Debt Counselling

“Spring is all about fresh starts, spring cleaning & planting seeds. The same, obviously,  would apply to finances. While debt eradication is not a seasonal matter, now is a critical time to look at your credit status, and “spring clean” the finances.

There are many out there that think they don’t need help. Consumers often run into short term financial challenges, ranging from missed & late payments to a cancelled card or store account. Many often “forget” that account which had been handed over, not realizing that the credit bureau doesn’t forget. The nett effect is, of course, a poor credit score and a negative impact on the consumer’s credit rating. It becomes a major challenge when consumers reapply for finance for a new vehicle, a new property, or a student loan.”

A major factor in this “forgotten account” phenomenon is that, unlike with traditional bills, once the account has been handed over, and eventually, judgement passed against the consumer, there is no regular reminder (in terms of an invoice or statement) of the adverse judgement. Often, there is an extended period of time from the time of the adverse judgement to the next time that the consumer applies for credit. As a result, at the time of the new credit application, the adverse judgement rears its ugly head; and the credit facility is declined. The impact, particularly when the credit is required for a critical, life-changing expense (student loans immediately jump to mind) can be a major setback for the consumer.

People often view debt counselling & debt review as a last resort solution – something only to be considered at the very end, when everything else fails. One of the reasons for this belief is the consumers’ ignorance of the mechanisms around debt review & debt counselling. This is compounded by the (incorrect) belief that once a person goes under debt review and seeks debt counselling, they can never be eligible for credit again. The simple fact of the matter is that debt review & debt counselling is, in effect, the first choice solution in assisting with over indebtedness. Our sector needs to work extra hard to change the negative perception around debt review and debt counselling.

Part of our marketing strategy at The Pioneer Group is to create awareness and educate our client base, and the public at large, on the mechanisms, processes, and value of debt review. One of our goals within this strategy is to change the negative perceptions and stigma associated with seeking help with debt management. There needs to be an understanding that debt review and debt counselling is a legal, effective tool that is designed and legislated to help consumers rather than to penalise or punish them. We are also working on generating an increased awareness that it’s not only salaried people that are eligible for debt review & debt counselling, but also, that pensioners and self-employed individuals are equally eligible too. The first steps that we have taken is to train and educate our service consultants on the nitty-gritty details of debt counselling, with particular focus on the understanding of all the benefits of debt review, dispelling the myths & misconceptions and making our debt counsellors fully aware of all aspects of the legislation and regulations around debt counselling & debt review.

As with any service offering, customer satisfaction is almost wholly dependent on the skill level and knowledge of the service consultant. No amount of marketing strategies and boardroom deliberations (on their own) is able to replace the coal-face interaction between the client and the service agent. We know and understand this very well, which is why we have focused considerable resources on our staff training, internal awareness campaigns, feedback sessions (with our service agents) and overall building of our human resource capacity. Equally, our (external) marketing campaigns are evolving to put the word out there that debt counselling & debt review is no more a last resort, but rather, a first step to be taken as soon as you feel that your debt is taking over your life. Life is for living, not paying to live or living to pay.