Bristow & Sutor highlights female enforcement agent success
Traditionally, the public image of an Enforcement Agent (formerly bailiff) was exclusively male, but an increasing number of women are now entering the industry; often achieving fantastic collection rates and carving out successful long-term careers.
Bristow & Sutor specialise in local authority debt recovery and has collected council tax, non-domestic rates and penalty charge notices for over 42 years. The company directly employs circa 150 EAs located in strategic areas around the country, and whilst the industry remains predominantly male, some of the company’s top performers are female. As an equal opportunities employer, Bristow & Sutor are keen to see more women realise the opportunities available to them and consider careers in the collections and enforcement industry.
One example to draw inspiration from is Jessica Hewitt, who currently works as an EA for Bristow & Sutor. Jessica previously worked in security and immigration for the Home Office, so saw a role within collections and enforcement as a chance to transfer the skills she had already learned. She generally works alone, visiting debtors to discuss their situation and ultimately recover outstanding debts.
“As soon as I picked up what it was actually like to be an EA, I loved it” said Jessica. “I had lots to learn about the rules of enforcement, legislation and negotiation, but ongoing training at Bristow & Sutor has helped and I have enjoyed it every step of the way. Some things you learn on the job, like identifying truly vulnerable debtors, but this has helped me grow and expand my own knowledge in an important area. I love being my own boss, having flexibility with breaks and the buzz of resolving an outstanding debt. I still feel proud every time a case I work on is paid off in full”.
Bristow & Sutor operates a policy of ‘case rotation’ meaning that an EA only has ‘ownership’ of the case for one week during which time they will undertake visits and update the case file using their PDA. This means that when a further visit is undertaken, it will be carried out by a different EA who will have access to the case notes. Female EAs are often engaged with differently to their male counterparts and Jessica believes adding more women to this rotation can open the door for more success.
“In some instances, debtors might feel less intimidated by a female knocking on their door. This is not always the case, but I have definitely succeeded in some scenarios where my male colleagues could not. This was often because the debtor was simply more comfortable discussing their situation with me. I think diversity in the workforce is very important as it means debtors can expect access to somebody they feel comfortable speaking with, whoever that may be.”
All of Bristow & Sutor’s EAs are fully employed to ensure the company retains full responsibility and accountability. To provide full transparency on all visits, agents wear body cameras and travel in vehicles that are trackable. This is also essential for the enforcement agents own welfare, security and safety. The company also invests heavily in training, spending over £800k annually on courses and continual professional development. For any women considering a career in the industry Jessica has one piece of advice.
“Go for it. Working for Bristow & Sutor has been interesting, exciting and unlike anything I have done before. The industry will benefit from more women so you will be welcomed both by colleagues and clients alike. Training is available, you get to take control of your own career and the earning potential is great!”
No EAs are currently permitted to attend properties due to social distancing restrictions, but Bristow & Sutor has continued CPD training for staff as well as training on PPE. Once visits are permitted again, all Bristow & Sutor EAs will possess hand sanitisers, antibacterial wipes, disinfectant sprays, gloves, bin bags and self-stick envelopes. The company remains fully committed to the safety of staff, customers and the general public.