Why Do Some People Think Trustees Have a Sad Job?
“A licensed insolvency trustee! That must be one of the saddest jobs in the world!”
I have heard that comment many times.
The first time I heard it I was at a house warming party for friends of ours.
There were scores of people at the party.
Most of whom my wife and I had never met.
I was in the kitchen when I found myself standing beside an attractive woman of about 35. We smiled at each other as strangers do.
“How do you know the Jacksons?” I asked her.
“I don’t really know them at all. My husband works with Bill Jackson, so that’s why I’m here.”
“And how do you know them?”
“Same as you. My wife knows Margaret Jackson. Margaret is my wife’s Monday friend.
They go walking along the seawall every Monday.”
After a bit more conversation she said, “What do you do?”
Admitting I Was a Trustee
“I’m a trustee in bankruptcy.”
That’s when she hit me with it. “A bankruptcy trustee! That must be one of the saddest jobs in the world!”
I was shocked at her comment and could only manage an inane reply such as, “Oh, it’s not that bad.”
We drifted apart after our brief conversation.
I was shaken by her remark about trustees in bankruptcy; one of the saddest jobs in the world?
I had received my trustee license about two months ago and was very proud of the accomplishment.
I already had my accounting designation and an MBA but the trustee license was by far the most difficult achievement.
A three year course of studies led to a written exam where there was only a 38% pass rate. I was one of the lucky ones who passed.
A few months later I had to go through an oral examination by a group made up of an insolvency lawyer, a trustee in bankruptcy and two representatives from the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy.
It was a grueling and stressful exam. The questions were fired at me.
As soon as I answered one question they went on to a different question, looking for a weakness.
One of their techniques was, when I gave my answer for one of them to say, “That’s not right! A friend of mine went bankrupt and he said ……..” Another technique was for one of them, when I gave an answer, to look at me in surprise and say, “Are you sure of that?”
Finally the ordeal was over. They all thanked me for coming. I escaped from the room.
Passing The Insolvency Exam
A few weeks later I received my results. I had passed! I was a trustee in bankruptcy, albeit with a two year restriction.
I could only practice under the supervision of an experienced trustee. This is a common restriction as a safeguard that newly appointed trustees are properly qualified.
Later that evening I found myself next to the same woman who had so shaken me up with her sympathetic comment.
The conversation got around to my job again.
“You know, being a trustee in bankruptcy is one of the best jobs in the world,” I told her.
“But how could that be? She asked. “You spend your time with people who are going into bankruptcy. That has to be so depressing!”
“That’s not how it is at all,” I explained. “The people I deal with have been struggling with debt problems, sometimes for years. When they finally come to me they have made a decision to deal with their problem.
It’s a happy time for them because they are facing their problem and doing something about it. After they go into bankruptcy all their stress disappears. No more calls from collectors. No more worrying about their wages being garnisheed. They’re on their way to a fresh financial start.”
The woman listened to what I said and then gave me a bright smile. “A trustee in bankruptcy! That must be one of the best jobs in the world!”.
“Thank you for this website and this Q&A service. It is very helpful in building an understanding about the BIA!”
– Anon, Ontario