Education is nothing without understanding

Elaine Hill Photography
Conor Devine

IN a period of dramatic and rapid political, social and economic change it is amazing how some things just seem to never alter.

Polling time draws closer in Northern Ireland, in the UK on the EU referendum and for the race for the White House.

The outcome of all three elections, and last week's Irish election, will have a serious impact on all of our lives, but on matters of such importance it is incredible how little we really know about each race and their respective outcomes.

I am reminded of a quote from business colleague, good friend, and ‘Rogue Trader', Nick Leeson, who on numerous occasions in state of the nation discussions, goes back to the notion that “education is nothing without understanding'.

Recently, a front page of a leading Irish business newspaper led with the story that many are of the view that the American private equity companies who control large chunks of the island's real estate loans, are waiting to after the elections in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland before they move aggressively on the borrowers.

The huge challenge with this entire process is that there is a complete lack of knowledge and understanding around it, which is creating a lot of uncertainly and causing many people across the country to have sleepless nights.

Count yourself lucky.

Recent TV debates and newspaper narratives present to us the different views of Cameron, Boris Johnston et al and their respective positions on our place within the EU, but what they are completely unable to do, is tell us exactly what the outcomes will be and more importantly set out clearly why we should remain or depart.

In the States, Donald Trump is gathering up a head of steam in the race for the White House and most people's view of him is based on perception without really understanding how he has become so successful over the last 30 years.

You can see there is a common thread here. In general, there is a lack of understanding of the real and important issues facing society.

The fact is that unless we fully understand the implications and outcomes of any of the above, we must be disqualified from making any valid comment.

The news is delivered as only a snapshot in time and no newspaper could devote the paper, or website copy or bandwidth to fully present all the facts so that an individual can make an informed decision.

All hope is not lost and whilst it maybe is said that a little information is dangerous, no information is certainly catastrophic.

Every day our team of consultants engages with some of the smartest white-collar business people in the North; doctors, dentists, estate agents, business owners from all corners, all burdened with property debt and in search of a way out.

Despair and anxiety does not discriminate it covers all demographics and all geographies.

What binds these people together is fear and ignorance – fear that they have no way out of their current financial predicament and an ignorance of the possibilities and the knowledge that there is an alternative to formal insolvency processes.

There are professionals who are capable of delivering relief not only from the fear that a companies property debt but relief from debt itself.

In all of this it is imperative that there is education, that there is understanding, on whether it is who to vote for or what to vote, or in fact just arming yourself with all of the information to make an informed decision about the issue of debt and insolvency, which has the potential to dramatically affect businesses and their families.

After all, ‘an investment in knowledge pays the best interest' – well that's according to Benjamin Franklin.

:: Conor Devine ( is principal of GDP Partnership (@EquityExpertsNI) which specialises in mediating with banks.


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