The current economic climate, further driven downwards by the Corona pandemic, is seeing an exponential increase in consumer pressure. Household debt is among the highest levels ever, with more and more consumers unable to afford timeous and consistent debt repayments. The challenge facing the entire credit sector is the growth in volumes of distressed consumers; coupled with lower affordability (from decreased house-hold incomes).

All round, things are getting tighter. Consumers are unable to address their debt challenges on their own, and many more need to seek external help, without falling into the trap of loan sharks and other unlawful lenders.

Since 2001, The Pioneer Group has grown into one of the leaders in the debt services industry in South Africa. Our culture of commitment to the highest levels of service, coupled with a management-driven commitment to quality control has seen us evolve into a debt counselling service of choice, evidenced by a client-base of over 50 000. Our intensive human resource development programs, and streamlined business systems, coupled with stringent compliance with legislation & regulations; and instituting industry best practices has seen us consistently recognised through multiple awards and consistent recognition as a Top 5 industry performer.

Our approach is driven by our commitment to our 3Cs: Consult, Comply & Clear. This 3-step / 3-stage methodology ensures that all the stakeholders (client, creditors, legal & financial teams and the credit bureau) are informed and in the loop from the very beginning of the process. Everybody’s interests and concerns are addressed in a manner that results in a win-win situation, with the client having his/her debts settled, and the creditors having all their money due, paid up. Once the settlement plan objectives are met, the client’s credit record is cleared, paving the way to creating a clean, fresh credit record.

Consultation begins with our professional debt counsellors assessing the client’s debt status quo. By educating the client of the procedures involved in the debt-clearance process, the client is able to understand the commitments required from them. The financial analysis and affordability study ensures that a balance is achieved between living expenses and debt commitments. This allows the client the opportunity to live reasonably with sufficient cash-flow for essential items such as food, transport, utilities and education, while ensuring that a sufficient is utilised for debt servicing.

One of the factors in debt review is securing the client’s financial & property security. Legal compliance and contractual adherence is achieved via court orders. Once a suitable cash-flow plan (considering both living expenses and debt repayment) is developed by our consultants, the legal team gets involved. The Administrations cluster within the legal team team makes the negotiated plan legally concrete and financially possible by:

Removing any existing garnish orders from the salary (thus freeing up much needed cash for realigned debt repayments)

Converting the agreed payment plan into a court order (thus securing the clients’ property rights & creating peace of mind for the client)

The nett outcome of the legal processes is that the client has only a single debt-payment commitment to us. This single payment is in favour of ALL the debt commitments. We then handle the disbursements and distribution of the payments, ensuring that all fees and accounts are paid in accordance with the court order. The court order also ensures that the client has peace of mind and is free of any harassment from creditors and threats of repossession.

Debt repayment periods vary based on the unique circumstances and debt levels of each client. However, with our constant support, monitoring and evaluation, we are able to guide and assist the client over the entire duration of the agreement. What makes us stand out from the rest is the total commitment to the client and the process. Once all the debts are settled satisfactorily, we obtain clearance letters from creditors, which we then use to clear the client’s credit records from the credit bureau; thus creating a clean, fresh credit record for the client.

Over the next few blogs, we’ll take a look in a bit more detail and examine the nitty-gritties of the debt cycle, as well as some of our news, views, unique perspectives and industry issues around debt management and the debt services industry.