Sands & Associates, BC’s largest firm of licensed Credit Counsellors, Proposal Administrators and Trustees in Bankruptcy released results of their third annual BC Consumer Debt Study today, specifically focused on markets throughout Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. The third annual BC Consumer Debt Study profiles trends and key information regarding consumer debt levels and debt reduction strategies used in British Columbia.
The 2014 study by Sands & Associates is the only BC-specific study to gather and analyze responses from nearly 900 individuals throughout the province to take an in-depth look at consumers’ debts, the factors causing their financial difficulties, strategies used to resolve debts and the level of knowledge consumers have regarding their debt restructuring options.
The 2014 BC Consumer Debt Study highlighted the following trends:
- Overextension of credit and financial mismanagement was cited as the number-one primary cause of financial difficulties.
- Nearly 65% of respondents indicated that making only the minimum payments on debts was the trigger for them to conclude their debts were becoming a problem.
- 12% of individuals were charged a fee to meet with a debt solution provider other than a licensed Trustee – of this 12%, fees of $1,000 or more were charged to nearly one-quarter of respondents.
- 57% of participants felt they had a good or excellent grasp of financial skills and concepts, however, only 3% correctly answered a series of questions relating to knowledge of debt and debt solutions. Of that 3%, all had previously filed a Personal Bankruptcy or Consumer Proposal.
As debt levels continue to rise among Canadians, concerns among industry professionals surrounding consumers’ debt knowledge and understanding have also increased. British Columbia residents continue to remain particularly vulnerable due to a lack of both awareness, and regulation surrounding non-legislative debt settlement options.
Blair Mantin, Vice-President of Sands & Associates offers further insights, “The high cost of living in BC’s lower mainland combined with attempting to service debt at unmanageable levels often leaves people reaching out for solutions in the wrong ways. The need for consumers to become better educated when it comes to debt management tools and identifying warning signs that could reduce their personal distress and financial difficulties is very real. Too many British Columbians are driving blind when it comes to debt.”
Mantin urges consumers to take a closer look at their finances, if your debt payments are higher than roughly ten percent of your monthly take-home pay, you should investigate whether professional debt assistance is necessary. He invites individuals with further questions or need of an assessment of their available options to contact Sands & Associates for a free, confidential consultation.
About Sands & Associates:
Celebrating 25 years providing debt solutions, Sands & Associates is British Columbia’s largest firm of licensed Credit Counsellors, Proposal Administrators and Bankruptcy Trustees, focused exclusively on personal and small business insolvency services. Currently operating from 12 offices throughout British Columbia, Sands & Associates uses a non-judgmental, empathetic approaching to helping resolve financial difficulties and has been recognized as a multi-year Consumer Choice Award winner.