DCASA Host National Online Members Meeting
DCASA’s First Zoom Meeting
The Debt Counsellors Association of South Africa (DCASA) hosted their first official members Zoom online meeting this month due to restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Hundreds attended and the session ran smoothly with no major technical hitches.
It is anticipated that in future regional meetings will be replaced (for a while) by these online sessions.
Russel Dickerson (DCASA President)
Russel began by talking about the new reality for many of working from home and how the Zooom meeting process will be used going forward. He also mentioned that there will be no Annual DCASA conference in 2020.
The associations income has been negatively impacted by the lack of regional meetings and the conference (with sponsorships). He thus urged members to pay their membership fees.
He then touched on the recent negative press of the Carte Blanche featurette on a major Debt Counselling firm. Perception is vital in an industry that asks members of the public to trust professional Debt Counsellors with decisions and suggestions regarding their finances.Russell also touched on the low number of consumers getting court orders restructuring their debt after entering the process. At a recent Consumer Friend webinar a very low percentage (23%) was mentioned according to their stats.
Russell then handed over to former DCASA President Paul Slot.
Paul Slot CIF Update
Paul, who you could hear is still recovering from a nasty bout of Covid-19 was upbeat but offered advice about the flu virus. He said members should please wear their masks, wash their hands and even then realise that they are still at risk. Paul himself is still in the recovery phase but is doing much better.
On the 26th June the Credit Industry Forum held their first virtual meeting since the Pandemic broke. He covered various subcommittees and offered brief updates.
Reckless Lending: This has been referred back to the relevant CIF committee to discuss if NCR actually has the capacity to handle complaints.
DCRS: There was a survey earlier the year of Debt COunsellors about their usage and how the credit providers respond to DCRS proposals. 48% of DCs said they always use DCRS in their court applications. On the other end of the spectrum, 18% said they never use DCRS in their court applications (or NCT applications).
‘very often Debt Counsellors are being pestered with counter-proposals to DCRS proposals which simply should not happen’
In the survey, 10% of DCs said credit providers never accept DCRS proposals they send. On the other end of the spectrum, 26% of those participating said credit providers never come back to them with counters on DCRS proposals. Counting those who lie in between (sometimes they get counters and other times not) this means that very often Debt Counsellors are being pestered with counter-proposals to DCRS proposals which simply should not happen. BASA say they are now investigating why those figures are so bad on the credit provider side.
Supposedly the pending DCRS improvements are now 50% done. BASA say they hope that these will really push up acceptance rates once all done.
Annual Reviews: A Proposal has been submitted to NCR by BASA. This was however referred back to Debt Counsellors for more info. Currently DCASA are waiting for that proposal from the CIF so that an official comment and response can be sent.
New Court Rulings: The CIF also discussed recent court rulings and impact on industry.
Timmy vd Grijp (NCR) Industry update
Next up was Timmy from the National Credit Regulator (NCR), who discussed the “new normal” and a recent report by Bain & Company (Aug 2020). The report discussed what it takes for smaller businesses to survive. They made several suggestions and observations including:
Offering real value to the consumer. Timmy pointed out that right now debt review is super relevant. He also highlighted how it is expected that higher LSM consumers are entering the process.
Rebalance the focus between physical and online. Debt Counsellors have to focus more on online (which tied in well with other presentations during the session).
Do away with complexity. Timmy said that while some progress has been made, the debt review process and fees need to be easier to understand for consumers.
Invest in digital.
Learn from Covid-19 & Lockdown. Timmy discussed the need to keep agile practices in place – those that were put in place due to the lockdown – if they have helped your team be more productive.
17.3 change in circumstances:
Next Timmy broached the topic of consumers who have had a negative change in circumstances and the NCR supported 17.3 process. He noted that it was never created with Covid-19 in mind but did help greatly when the lockdown began. A huge number of 17.3s were issued by all Debt Counsellors and some credit providers are still busy processing them. This process may intensify in the future when the economic fall out from the lockdown intensifies.
‘A huge number of 17.3s were issued by all Debt Counsellors and some credit providers are still busy processing them’
Now the payment holidays from big credit providers are coming to a close and many hard hit industries still have not opened up and have not recovered (nor will recover for a long time from the look of things). The entire situation is being discussed at CIF level but there are delays in getting feedback from credit providers. The NCR will share feedback once they receive it.
Online Compliance Monitoring:
Some DCs have received an invite to attend an online webinar hosted by the NCR about their monitoring of Debt Counsellors and how it will happen in the future. The brief webinar takes about 20 minutes and looks like it will be the way of the future which is why the NCr are eager to prepare Debt Counsellors. He asked Debt Counsellors who have been invited to please attend.
A main focus of the NCR currently is trying to reduce unallocated funds sitting at PDAs. The NCR say they are working with PDAs to try to interact with the relevant Debt Counsellors to resolve these funds. The issues may be as simple as incorrect ID numbers or account numbers supplied by Credit Providers (which was one of the issues highlighted in the recent Carte Blanche feature about one consumer).
NCR Circulars 1 and 7:
Timmy reminded everyone that after 17th June 2020 the normal 60 business days are counted. This will impact on 86(10) applications.
NCR DC Panel Update:
The NCR is putting together a panel of Debt Counsellors to help look after “orphaned” consumers whose Debt Counsellor is not available. The NCR are now assessing all those Debt Counsellors who applied.
‘The NCR is putting together a panel of Debt Counsellors to help look after “orphaned” consumers’
The DCASA session then moved on to finding new clients in a rather tricky time. For advice, several experts were called in to make presentations. These included:
Byron Massolini (the WIKID Agency)
Byron introduced the Wikid team and presented information about how many brands are cutting advertising spend at present. He said that most brands are moving back to basics (good client service). He pointed to the simple truth that brands who invested in online presence in the past are dong better right now than those who did not or had not yet.
He showed ho creativity and innovation are now needed to stay ahead of the pack and that companies need to be able to make quick moves and fast decisions with their marketing.
When discussing what is next for advertising and marketing and where Debt Counsellors can focus he suggested:
Use Google My Bussiness (local businesses are prioritised by google). Get good reviews, verify your listing, be sure to complete all the data on your listing, and obviously make sure your contact info is correct.
Google Ads & Facebook: Keep ads super targeted. He said it may be wise to only use Facebook ads on Facebook market place for now.
It is clear that given the pandemic digital services are the new normal. It is vital that you make your process super easy for your user and website visitors. Keep your call to action right at the top and have easy to see contact info. He advised giving your potential client all the choices to contact you. He finished off by asking if you are able to offer your entire service online?
Nikki Venter (the WIKID Agency)
Nikki showed how colour can enhance or hurt your branding. Colour can be described as a “silent salesperson” as it influences people on a subliminal level. This would apply to colour in your advertising and promotional pictures, text, website etc. It is a fact that your viewer will see the colour before they read the words.
Certain colour pallets also send certain messages and even fonts and images can send subliminal messages to your visitors and potential clients. Your colours should also be linked to who you are marketing to. Young people have different preferences compared to older consumers and things like this should be kept in mind. Having an expert help can make sure you avoid simple mistakes.
Philip shared info about BNI with those attending.
BNI is the world’s biggest referrals association. They focus on referrals and not leads. They have 270 000 members worldwide. He discussed the benefits of being a BNI member. One interesting fact he mentioned was that BNI offers local DCs exclusivity for offering debt relief within each BNI chapter (small group of referral members). He feels that referrals is the way of the future and that with things like PoPI coming into effect leads will eventually be a thing of the past.
Barry Maree (Mic Drop Media)
Barry is an expert on video marketing and said that including video on your webpage or marketing can increase your conversions by as much as 80%. People are lazy and like to watch content now. Video can be used in email marketing but it depends on the server you and your possible clients can use. Barry says that often links to video can work better.
‘including video on your webpage or marketing can increase your conversions by as much as 80%’
It is true that search engines love video (here longer is better. For example, 3 min or more on Facebook). Video really adds personality to your brand and gives it more substance in the mind of potential clients and if it is really smart or funny can get you social media shares.
Wrapping It Up
Russell then ended off the meeting thanking all who attended and spoke. There were around 200 members online for the webinar. His final thoughts were to “be ethical, be safe”.