How to Provide Expert Debt Advice Some Issues and Notes for Professionals

by admin on 19 October 2010

In the provision of debt or  money advice, there are three client specific issues that I would like to highlight as important. The first concerns prioritizing advice, the second is the importance of meeting the client’s needs and the third is managing the client’s expectations.

Prioritize the Most Indebted and Most Vulnerable

The service needs to be prioritized towards ensuring that appropriate and timely information is provided for the most vulnerable clients first. Every effort should be made to assist them in accessing their rights and entitlements. This includes ensuring that all information is accessible in a way that people with low literacy skills can understand.

How a Debt Adviser Meets the Client’s Needs

When you provide advice to people in a debt situation you need to be especially cognizant of the fact that the people are often under severe stress and feeling quite desperate. There is more than a financial problem to tackle, indeed the money advice process has a substantial counseling aspect to it. The issue of establishing trust and confidence early is essential to the advisory process. Inaccurate or incomplete information will impair the quality of the advice given, it is therefore imperative that the client does not hold back any information.

The central issue in providing an advice and advocacy service is that you are building up a detailed accurate picture of not only the client’s finances but also their life situation, of which their debt problem may only be a symptom. The adviser needs to understand and meet the client’s fundamental needs whether that is helping the client access a health service, disseminating information regarding their social welfare entitlements or contacting their creditors on their behalf.

How a Debt Advice Professional Should Manage the Clients Expectations

In providing an advice and advocacy service there is a need to manage the somewhat unreal expectations of some clients. It is important to make the client understand that you haven’t the power to cancel their debts nor can you provide them with credit. Negotiating with the creditors is not a trivial matter and If the client neglected communication with their creditors it will make it that more difficult to convince the creditors of the merit of the debtors case.

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