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Moving forward and lessons from across the ditch

soraiyaSoraiya Daud

Communications Advisor | FinCap

As the Communications Advisor at FinCap I thought I would use this blog post as an opportunity to talk about FinCap and the changes that have happened in the financial capability and budgeting sector.

You might be thinking, who on earth is FinCap and what do they do?

In short, FinCap supports financial capability and budgeting services at a national level. We emerged out of a redesign of the budgeting sector that happened over a period of five years. When our organisation was created it was given very long name, The National Building Financial Capability Charitable Trust. Thinking of a new, pithier name was a very long process but, in the end, we settled on FinCap, officially launching in September 2018. The name FinCap reflects our mandate to support New Zealanders to build their financial capability. Our logo has a huia bird in flight, representing the unburdening of people from the ties that hold them back like debt or financial hardship and stress.

Settling on FinCap has been a relief, not only for us but also for everyone we work with. What does a new shorter name mean? To me it means that we can now focus on our mission, to support the next stage of development for the financial capability and budgeting sector.

Part of the re-design of the sector has been to shift from budget advice to financial mentoring. The Ministry of Social Development have supported this shift through the development of new resources, moving from a prescriptive approach to budget advice to mentoring people through their financial challenges. We have been embedding this change through strengths-based training and new professional development modules for financial mentors. When you come across the term financial mentor, it is effectively the new iteration of budget advisers.

Another development is taking a systems approach to financial capability. There are many different players in the financial capability world, all with their own areas of expertise, including The Commission to Financial Capability, government agencies, industry associations, microfinance organisations, social enterprises and budgeting services.

FinCap have been committed to working in a collaborative way to achieve systemic change. While we believe in power of financial mentoring and the one on one relationship between people and a trusted adviser, we know this does not result in systemic change. By bringing people together from different parts of New Zealand society we can start to tackle some of the system level issues.

There is a real mood to work in this way. The recent Financial Inclusion Industry summit brought together industry, government and the NGO sector to tackle some of the challenges around financial inclusion.

As an example, today, FinCap and the New Zealand Bankers Association hosted Norm Kalcovski, the Head of Customer Care at NAB Assist, part of National Australia Bank for a workshop on how banks in New Zealand could improve their hardship processes. NAB Assist have transformed the way in which they deal with customers in financial hardship, moving from cold, severe, debt collection to a compassionate approach. Rather than being at logger head with financial counsellors (the Australian equivalent of financial mentors) they invited then in to audit and help improve their processes. The main thing they changed was the way they dealt with hardship applications. National Australia Bank used to take 21 days (the statutory maximum) to process hardship applications, requiring massive amounts of paperwork, on top of the stress people were already experiencing. They changed their process to trusting the customer’s story and empowering their agents on the phone to find solutions. They went from 21 days processing time to 15 minutes. NAB haven’t just changed their culture and processes, they’ve put their own money behind their approach, introducing hardship grants for customers experiencing family violence. Listening to Norm speak about what has happened at his organisation made me think about the potential to change not only financial institutions but also government departments. The public and private sector could learn a thing or two from this approach. I couldn’t help but think of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group’s work and the need to change Work and Income processors and culture, for the sake of clients and staff.

Finally, I want to put a plug in for our new financial helpline, MoneyTalks. We know that there is a significant barrier to getting help. The MoneyTalks helpline is a way to reduce that barrier, by providing multiple channels for people to talk to financial mentors. It’s a great place to refer people to if you think they would benefit from specialist help with their finances.

MoneyTalks is available from Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm and on Saturday from 10am to 2pm.

 

This blog has been contributed by a member of the ComVoices network. The views presented here are not necessarily those of ComVoices.

ComVoices is a Wellington based network of national community and voluntary sector organisations. It was established so that sector organisations would have a more powerful voice at Government level and in the community.

Click here for our websitehttp://comvoices.org.nz/