FNB Debt Counsellor Conference
Debt Counsellors braved the early morning traffic in a windy Cape Town to make their way to FNB’s beautiful glass building in the city CBD. Debt Counsellors and attorneys from businesses both large and small gathered to meet with FNB’s Debt Review Centre.
After a short intro from Faadile and Buyile, Ms Athaly Khan spoke to the audience and outlined how FNB wanted to use the occasion to find solutions to some challenges. She briefly touched on recent systems challenges which had seen many Debt Counsellors a bit concerned but which had been resolved.
Buyile then took the audience on a walk down memory lane as he discussed some of the past developments for the department and areas where they had overcome past challenges. Though FNB have been a bit quiet (or as Buyile put it: “some people have been asking: “where have you been?“”) they are still firmly committed to the industry and consumers under debt review. Buyile said they had to stake a small step back and decided to try engage with the industry via an association level but would like to engage with as many Debt Counsellors as possible however this can be done.
Gert, Faadiel and others discussed possible process (and technology) improvements that may soon be seen like, increased functionality on the FNB app and use of USSD codes on mobile phones (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data).
FNB would also like to use technology to speed up and automate as many of the simple things in the process such as cancelling debit orders, drawing statements and getting paid up letters. Plans are already in process to do so.
A big focus of the day (other than informal chats and questions about industry developments) were around 4 main issues which FNB had identified as areas needing innovation.
For example, the process of creating a new reference number for payments made towards overdrafts (which are partially split form consumer’s cheque accounts) was discussed. FNB hope to now move the split and creation of the new payment reference number before the CoB phase. Also planned is monitoring the transaction account and seeing if it continues to be used. If not, it may be autoclosed after a certain time period or consumers can continue to use the account (without the overdraft, of course) as their normal transaction account (and normal fees will apply). Though the project is underway it may take another year or two to iron out all the kinks. For now, FNB are focused on preventing any “set off” money grabbing from consumers transaction accounts while under debt review.
Debt Counsellors were able to break away into several small groups and brainstorm around the various issues
After feedback on the workgroups, there was a chance to discuss the increase to VAT, Reckless credit investigations and the new Debt Counselling fees guideline issued by the NCR. Afterwards, the crowd enjoyed a delicious lunch and got to mingle before heading back to work.
A Successful Conference
FNB Debt Review are based in Gauteng and the Conference in Cape Town allowed many of the team to get to meet Debt Counsellors who they deal with telephonically and electronically, face to face. It also allowed the bank to speak to those who work with them every day and ask them for a fresh perspective on many key issues.
Ms Athaly Khan described the day as a success, saying: ” Today was gold!” She said:” None of us is as smart as all of us” referring to the clever ideas proposed by the many Debt Counsellors in regard to the 4 main topics of the day.