‘I want to be a credit counsellor when I grow up,’ said nobody, ever. Interestingly enough, life has a way of taking people down a path. Today, many people find themselves offering credit counselling services.
If you’re experiencing financial problems and are looking for help with debt management, debt consolidation or money management, visiting a credit counsellor can be a great first step.
This is as long as the credit counsellor holds the right credentials.
More and more financial professionals have started offering credit counselling services claiming to have the best interest of the consumer at heart. As a largely unregulated profession, separating ‘the wheat from the chaff’ is increasingly important.
When you pick a credit counsellor, it’s important you look for the following 5 qualities:
1. They work for an accredited agency.
An accredited not-for-profit credit counselling agency should always be your first choice. An accreditation certificate from Credit Counselling Canada is the ‘gold seal of approval’ for credit counselling in Canada. You can check to see if an agency is accredited here.
As a national association for non-profit credit counselling agencies, each member must go through a full accreditation process. Members must achieve the standards established by the association and maintain those standards annually. Some of the standards require members to; provide an annual external financial audit, provide face-to-face counselling, and ensure their volunteer board is representative of the community the agency serves.
2. They hold proper certification.
You deserve to receive help from qualified professionals. Credit Counselling Canada requires all counsellors to complete the Accredited Financial Counsellor Canada (AFCC) designation. Upon certification with the AFCC, counsellors must maintain professional continuing education credits. Ask to see a certification if it isn’t hanging on the office wall before you pick a credit counsellor.
3. They don’t receive commission.
Credit counsellors should not be paid commission or receive incentive-based revenue. There is no exception to this rule with Credit Counselling Canada. Any fees paid go to the agency and services are available regardless of your ability to pay.
4. They don’t offer one quick fix.
Your financial trouble didn’t start overnight and it won’t be fixed overnight. It takes time to solve money problems. Providing a quick fix option should trigger the alarm bells. If the solution sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
A genuine counsellor will give a complete financial assessment. Based on this assessment, they will lay out many options. Counsellors are not there to sell any product. Their job is to ensure the consumer has the money management skills and the support they need to achieve financial success.
5. A great credit counsellor always put you first.
The number one priority for all counsellors should be your best interest. A good counsellor tailors their approach for each consumer. They listen, engage and create positive relationships. They make you feel like you matter.
There are many great credit counsellors, even if they never knew they would end up a credit counsellor. These people not only meet the above standards but, most importantly love helping others.
If you need help with debt management, budgeting or general financial education, we can help you pick a credit counsellor. Click here to find a credit counsellor near you.