Debt counselors, often referred to as money advisors or financial consultants are professionals who are hired to assist people or companies in difficult financial situations, i.e. who find themselves in extremely large debt, and are not able to handle it themselves. Counselors offer advice on every financial topic under the sun, from wealth management, to budgeting, bankruptcy, and financial planning for eventual mitigation of and relief from debt. Debt counselors are also needed to participate in proceedings in courts or dealings with creditors on behalf of their clients.
Academic & Professional Qualifications
Although there are no hard and fast academic qualifications needed for taking up a debt counseling job, a degree would definitely boost your chances of nailing the job with a large organization. Several degrees and diplomas are valid for a job as a debt advisor, from finance-related fields like accountancy, commercial studies, economics and finance, to therapy-related majors like psychology and others. When hiring debt counselors, firms always prefer candidates with solid work experience over graduates or others with formal academic qualifications.
Work experience in the finance sector, maybe as a cashier, consultant or advisor, or even in a non-professional role, as a budget manager for a start-up, society or community group would ensure that you have a fair idea about financial dealings and debt relief. Consumer advice and welfare rights are related fields as well. For a more grounded approach to debt counseling, there are always a number of voluntary jobs which you may apply for, especially in charities and organizations, and your capability in helping vulnerable clients could be a deciding factor for big firms.
Some Traits a Good Debt Counselor Must Possess
A career in debt counseling is ideal for flexible, adaptable aspirants who are well-versed in the area of debt management, and are compassionate, eloquent, good with people and willing to help them in times of financial distress. Much like any other therapist or counselor, a debt counselor will have to hear out his client’s problems and issues while being empathetic, impartial and unbiased. You must be a good listener, and work well under pressure as well as deadlines as most clients would come to you when they are fighting extremely testing situations. You must respect their confidentiality, and be able to relate to clients from several backgrounds. A counselor should be trustworthy as well, and the knowledge of a foreign language wouldn’t hurt, if you are working within a community. Finally, good organizational, administrative and vocational skills are a must, especially when dealing with creditors.
What You Would Need to Do As a Debt Counselor
A debt counselor would need to thoroughly discuss and go over the nitty-gritty of his client’s initial debt and overall financial situation by assessing the monthly or weekly expenditure against his or her income. Emotional support is also important to help stressed clients through tough times. You would need to sort out all payments by prioritizing the ones which need to be handled sooner. Moreover, debt relief and financial planning go hand in hand, and you will need to chalk out a management plan for your client which holistically covers all payments which the client would need to make in a month and other expenditures as well. It is your job to follow-up with the client, check whether they are keeping within the allotted financial constraints and then provide supplementary advice. If you wish to know more about debt relief, click here.
Should they be late with payments, you must follow them up by negotiating with the creditors and going through all the formalities. Several clients may also have fallen victim to unrealistic loan schemes which require them to pay obscene amounts of money in a very short time. It is your job to liaise with the creditor and see if a reasonable agreement can be reached. You must handle all relevant paperwork and documents, and also attend court hearings and legal proceedings to provide legal support for your client. If the client is not able to manage his debt and is bankrupt, you must provide any assistance within your means to help them through bankruptcy.
A Job in Debt Counseling- Do You Have What It Takes?
Debt Counselors and caseworkers also make a very good salary, which varies with the administrative level they have been assigned. It is a challenging job, and involves a lot of effort, from working at a desk or a computer, to liaising face-to-face with clients and creditors. This is a tremendously rewarding job, if you are willing to help a variety of clients.