Financial Counselling: The Importance of Debt Counselling Session

Financial Counselling- The Importance of  Debt Counselling Session

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By Bromwich+Smith Staff | 1860 words | Reading Time: 9 minutes | Date: 2023/04/25

When a client comes to Bromwich+Smith struggling with overwhelming debt, we find that they have stress that touches every aspect of their life. This is why I strongly believe that the one on one debt counselling sessions clients receive when they  file a Consumer Proposal or Bankruptcy is so important- but maybe I am biased. My name is Kathy Reimer, I am a Registered Insolvency Financial Counsellor. I work with a great team of 5 counsellors at Bromwich+Smith. 

My personal journey in becoming a Registered Insolvency Financial Counsellor has been a mixture of education, experience and a love of helping people overcome obstacles to improve their lives.  I was employed by RBC for 37 years, my last 10 years as a Financial Planner.  I received my Financial Planning Designation in 2012 and was required to stay current on my knowledge by passing annual exams on both credit and investments.   I enjoyed working with clients, particularly in developing financial goals so clients could achieve the lives they wanted.    My ongoing education with RBC gave me great knowledge in loans, mortgages, everyday banking, insurance, wills & estates, and investments.  I enjoyed my work tremendously but decided to retire in late 2017.  Quickly, I realized my life lacked several important elements:  purpose, people and the ability to earn my own money.  Then, Bromwich+Smith and I found each other!  I love working in insolvency, and Bromwich+Smith has helped me achieve my goals.  After working as a Debt Relief Specialist for around 18 months, I passed the Canadian Association of Insolvency and Restructuring Professionals (CAIRP) course in insolvency counselling (PCIC). That was when my journey as a Financial Insolvency Counsellor began.  All in all, I have over 40 years experience in the financial services industry and clients are my passion! 

What happens during Financial Counselling with Bromwich+Smith? 

Counselling is an incredibly important time for clients, with the purpose of helping clients gain the skill and knowledge set they need so they will never become insolvent again. They have the opportunity to ask questions, and they are provided with great resources.  We work through a budget template which is incredible, as once we do the budget with the client, they often have a “wow” moment.  Our time together is also a chance to help clients find a way to manage their money that suits them, to encourage them to start saving ( I am a strong advocate to Pay Yourself First!).  
There is a strong psychological relationship between money management and self esteem, self confidence and feelings of security, it takes a bit of focus, commitment and a few tools to help people.  I want clients to look at their financial habits, look at the “why” behind the ‘what’ and examine it.  Then make the necessary changes slowly and carefully.  While I do address financial stressors, there is so much more to talk about.  

During time with my clients, my goal is to introduce them to at least one basic financial management principle that will bring value to their everyday lives.  Often it is basic budgeting skills, other times it is setting goals, so they can move forward.  I emphasis the importance of saving, the magic of compound interest and investment returns and my personal passion—I explain how credit card interest and the average daily balance method used by credit card companies can deplete purchasing power.    In all sessions, it is important to invite clients to share what they are learning by going through their journey, provide encouragement and reassurance.  It is truly an honor to talk with clients, they are often in a vulnerable position and, by the time counselling rolls around, they have lots of questions. 

I discuss the importance of everyday habits and building a great financial reputation with clients.  I let them know how important savings is to build a financial reputation.  While savings does not report to the credit bureaus, it certainly shows habit and intention for a potential lender or home equity provider.  It is important to have a squeaky-clean credit history from here on in, there are lots of ways to make sure that happens.  It’s so much easier to have the ability to borrow for the big things in life, at competitive rates, by showing off your savings and repayment habits.  If a client works hard on habits, the credit score will come.  I truly want you to know that there is so much more to a financial reputation than just a credit score. 

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How does a Financial Counsellor prepare for a session?   

To prepare for a session, I review the file, looking at  what happened to cause them to file insolvency,  look at their income and family situations.  I also look at liabilities, this helps me understand what the “go to” credit has been so I can personalize my counselling and ensure they are getting the most out of our time together. 

What do I want you to know before coming to see a Financial Counsellor? 

I want clients to know that the sessions are designed for them, not for us.  I want clients to be engaged, to ask questions, to raise concerns, to ask methods and best practises that have been successful for other clients. We hold the two sessions as a requirement of their debt relief program, and my hope is that both sessions are of value and inspire clients to think, plan, execute the things that may need to change.  Additionally, I want clients to share their best practises as well so I can pass them along. 

Generally, when both sessions are complete, I hear lots of positive feedback, especially in the areas of saving and budgeting.  People are often eager to have the second session, they sound much more confident, less stressed and have lots of questions.  Lots of times clients are apprehensive about attending counselling, but by the end are so happy they did.  

I would invite clients to engage themselves in the counselling process, ask questions and tell it like it is.  Financial Counsellors are a hearty bunch of people, there is nothing we haven’t heard, we want success for our clients.  Mostly, although we appreciate our clients, we never want to have them as clients again! 

FAQ for Financial Counselling: 

  1. What is financial counselling? 
    Financial or debt counselling is a process where a professional counsellor provides guidance and support to individuals or businesses struggling with financial difficulties. During your financial counselling session at Bromwich+Smith you will review budgeting tools, strategies, and money management  as well as anything you would like to discuss with your financial counsellor. 

  2. Who can benefit from financial counselling? 
    Anyone who is facing financial difficulties, such as overwhelming debt, may benefit from financial counselling. It can also be helpful for individuals who want to improve their financial management skills and secure their financial future. 

  3. What happens during a financial counselling session? 
    During a counselling session, clients work with a financial counsellor one on one to develop a budget, learn basic financial management skills, and discuss strategies for improving their financial situation. 

  4. Is debt counselling only for people who are considering bankruptcy? 
    Debt Counselling is part of debt relief programs including bankruptcy. However, counselling can be helpful for anyone who wants to improve their financial management skills and secure their financial future, regardless of whether or not they are considering bankruptcy. 

  5. How can I find a financial counsellor? 
    There are many organizations that offer financial counselling services, such as Bromwich+Smith. You can also search for financial counsellors in your area online or through your local government. 

  6. How much does financial counselling cost? 
    The cost of financial counselling can vary depending on the organization and the services provided. Some organizations offer free or low-cost counselling services, while others may charge a fee. 

  7. What should I bring to a debt counselling session? 
    It's a good idea to bring any financial statements, bills, and other documents related to your finances to your counselling session. This can help the counsellor get a better understanding of your financial situation and provide more effective guidance. Your counsellor may reach out to you prior to your appointment with a list of items to bring to ensure you are able to make the most of your time together. 

  8. How long does a financial counselling session typically last? 
    Counselling sessions can vary in length depending on the organization and the needs of the client. Some sessions may last only an hour or two, while others may be longer. 

  9. Will my information be kept confidential during a Financial counselling session? 
    Yes, financial counsellors are bound by strict confidentiality agreements and will not disclose your information to anyone without your consent. 

  10. How can I get the most out of my debt counselling sessions? 
    To get the most out of your debt counselling sessions, it's important to be open and honest with your counsellor, ask questions, and be willing to make changes to improve your financial situation. 

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