E noho ra – a final message from Tim
I am a great believer in legacy. To me that’s about making a meaningful difference, preferably one which survives what the future holds because of its quality and power of endurance.
The legacy I am thinking about is FinCap’s, not mine. I was recruited to do a fascinating job, I did it for 40 months, I think I did it to the best of my ability and I believe I leave a strong organisation. I have been but one cog in a complicated machine.
FinCap came in at a tough time for the budget service movement. A time of great change, where concept, style, funding, leadership was all under review and reform. 40 months on there is only one question in my view. What would happen if FinCap ended tomorrow?
The network of 200 local financial capability and budgeting services is a complex world. The core work of each agency might be similar to all the others – one-to-one financial mentor engagement with people in financial hardship, sometimes complemented by peer-to-peer facilitated learning – but much else is different. Stand-alone and wrap-around. Small rural, large urban. MSD funded, and unfunded. Christian and secular. Maori kaupapa, Pasifika and general. More and less collaborative. Engaged and disengaged. That diversity makes universal solutions hard to develop, and means that feedback can be a little patchy. This has been the context in which FinCap has worked.
As an opening bid, I think the following 10 things wouldn’t happen if FinCap was off the scene:
- Our collective spirit would fade. That’s what newsletters, hui, national media, campaigns and data are all about.
- We wouldn’t have a world class client management system and data production across our network. We would all go back to less effective and individual systems (just like happens in Australia).
- The rules coming in 2021 obliging much more promotion of Financial Mentors by providers of credit contracts would have little impact, since that system needs one point of entry to Financial Mentors. That’s MoneyTalks now.
- Arrangements negotiated for and open to all 200 local agencies such as the banks privacy waiver, free real-time access to credit records, power credits and liability insurance wouldn’t survive – they need a central agency to make them effective and accountable.
- The big plans for workforce development and a career pathway for Financial Mentors, including microcredits and a diploma, might happen, but in isolation from the rich veins of consultation with local agencies which has been a feature of the past three years.
- The Quality Assurance system, poised for implementation, wouldn’t be a thing. It needs to be run by a body apart from the funder.
- The attention of the nation’s key financial services, utilities, politicians, public servants and media wouldn’t be regularly drawn to the network of 200 agencies delivering from 330 places and seeing 70,000 people a year in financial hardship.
- 131 local agencies would still receive very substantial funding increases – for at least the next two years – but the lobby for that to be made permanent would be weak.
- The growth of training options for Financial Mentors, to complement the greater focus on Mentor salary levels and the development of that professional grouping, would cease; and
- MoneyTalks, if it existed, would be run by an organisation outside our network, without the strong links with local services.
Those services and actions are the stuff of legacy. There’s a good way still to go. My one parting appeal to you would be for a generosity of spirit and an appreciation of the challenges involved in the journey towards a more coherent, collaborative and – dare I say it – united network. Otherwise it is so much harder for all of us.
Kia kaha! Go well,Nga mihi
P.S. If you want to keep in touch you can email me on my personal email – email@example.com
Introducing Olivia our MoneyTalks Helpline Adviser
My name is Olivia, and I joined the Moneytalks team in April this year as a Helpline Adviser, right after the lockdown.
Tauranga Budgeting Advisory Services (TBAS) was my first step into the financial mentoring sector. As a newcomer of the Tauranga city, I was eagerly wanting to establish more local connections and conquer my Asian shyness at that time. Then I saw the recruitment post of TBAS, looking for volunteers, I submitted my application on SEEK, went through the interview with two senior mentors, and started my first day right the next week.
The best thing about financial mentoring, is empowerment. We financial mentors empower our client’s confidence for their financial future, but when I am reviewing my journey with TBAS and Moneytalks, I realise how much I am empowered by our clients and teammates.
Starting this career as an unconfident and shy lady, but now I am able to confidently lead a conversation and give professional advice to my clients. There is a saying in Chinese, helping other people is helping yourself. And this is perhaps the magic of our “strength-based approach”, where our goal is to promote the positive and always look into the strengths and potentials of our clients.
During my spare time, I enjoy various sports and doing embroidery. I’ve also become very interested in Maori language, as I found there are so many similarities with Maori and Chinese culture. As we have the same concept of whānau, and deep bonding and attachment to our lands.
My favorite food or drink is bubble tea. And my favorite TV show is the Big Bang Theory, which is an American comedy television series about four scientists living together. My dog was named after one of the major character, Sheldon, who is the funniest and weirdest of the four.
Your chance to be a part of designing the new National Strategy for Financial Capability
The National Strategy for Financial Capability was released in 2015, it lays out five work streams that contribute to a vision of ‘everyone getting ahead financially’: getting New Zealanders to talk and learn about money, to plan for the future, to be debt-smart and to save and/or invest. The Strategy provides a reference point for organisations working in the Financial Capability space, a structure to tie their initiatives back to, and supports cohesion across the sector.
Unfortunately, the current strategy has not been a living document and nor has it been widely embraced or supported.
The Commission for Financial Capability is now reinvigorating a new National Strategy to set the direction for the next five years. The Commission believes the focus of the strategy should be to support stakeholders and partners, to better unite the sector, and to foster collaboration. The Commission wants to be sure that the strategy reflects the work and priorities of the sector, and they involve our stakeholders in its development as much as we can.
Their original intent was to hold a national hui to workshop the new strategy outcomes and opportunities, bring stakeholders and partners together, and build relationships across the sector. Since COVID-19 makes this impractical, the Commission is are currently running a series of fortnightly online workshops to discuss aspects of the strategy development, to share research data and information, and to facilitate connection and discussion with participants. You are welcome to attend any of these sessions. They will be sending out email invitations beforehand to people on their email list, but here are the details so you can save the dates (the topics may change but we’ll give you plenty of notice).
19 November 2020
Financial Resilience – connecting Financial Capability and Resilience in a post-COVID world
11 February 2021
Collective Impact – a model for effective community action
25 February 2021
Funding Structures – funding models for the hardship space
11 March 2021
Funding Models – funding across the sector
25 March 2021
Government, Policy and Financial Capability – advocating to Government
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to join the mailing list for the National Strategy and receive an invitation to the above meetings.
Commerce Commission moves to address rising telecommunications sector complaints
The Commerce Commission is asking for views on what telecommunications providers could be doing better to address increasing complaints about the sector.
The number of consumer complaints is an indicator of consumer experience and, over the past year, consumer complaints and enquiries to the industry dispute resolution scheme, the Telecommunications Disputes Resolution Scheme (TDRS), and the Commerce Commission have increased.
“The increase in complaints indicates that telecommunications providers need to lift their game to improve outcomes for consumers,” said Telecommunications Commissioner, Tristan Gilbertson.
Commerce Commission seeks view of pain points for consumers
The Commerce Commission is asking for views on:
- The key pain points being experienced by consumers across all dimensions of customer experience
- What needs to be done to address them.
This includes selecting and buying telecommunications services, the day-to-day performance of the service and provider, changing to another provider, and the complaints process.
“We’re asking for specific examples of the problems consumers are running into and views on how things could be done better. This will help us to understand what needs to change to make a meaningful difference for New Zealand consumers,” said Mr Gilbertson.
Contact Jake Lilley, our Consumer Issues Adviser on email@example.com if you have any views and he will feed them back to the Commerce Commission.
Commerce Commission seeks view on the Telecommunications Dispute Resolution Scheme
Recognising the importance of effective dispute resolution, the Commission is also calling for views on how the Telecommunications Dispute Resolution Scheme could be improved for consumers, as part of a formal review of these arrangements.
“We look forward to working with industry and consumer stakeholders to produce a plan for improving consumer outcomes – so we get satisfaction levels up and complaint levels down.”
Contact Jake Lilley, our Consumer Issues Adviser on firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any views and he will feed them back to the Commerce Commission.
Engaging with the newly elected Labour Government and your (possibly) new Members of Parliament
Ministers relevant to our areas of work
The new Government was sworn in on Friday 6 November with a couple of changes in the Ministers that are responsible for our areas of work.
The Ministers that relate to our areas of work are the:
- Minister of Social Development – the Honourable Carmel Sepuloni
- The Ministry of Social Development funds the Building Financial Capability sector (131 local services across New Zealand) and is the primary funder for FinCap.
- Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs – the Honourable Carmel Sepuloni
- Oversees the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment which is responsible for Consumer Policy and Consumer Protection.
- Oversees the Commerce Commission and also the Commission for Financial Capability.
- Minister of Community and Voluntary Sector – Priyanca Radhakrishnan
- Our services are part of the community and voluntary sector and so this portfolio is of relevance.
FinCap will be looking to meet with these Ministers to brief them on our sector and issues we face, building on our relationship with the Minister of Social Development and initiating a relationship with the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs and the Minister of Community and Voluntary Sector.
New Members of Parliament
In the lead up to the reforms of consumer credit law that took place last year, FinCap held a series of workshops around New Zealand emphasising the importance of engaging with your local MP and Government Ministers.
Why might it be important to engage with your local elected representatives?
- To ensure they are aware of your service and can refer people to you that need help.
- To show the value of Financial Mentoring and the local financial capability sector to Parliament and Government.
- To share the issues your communities are facing and make MPs aware of what is happening on the ground.
- To keep your local representative accountable to the people they serve.
MPs are also always on the lookout for an opportunity to engage with local organisations in their community (and for a good photo opportunity for their social media!). You can provide that for them by inviting them over for a visit to your service, whether it’s just to talk about what you do or to celebrate an event.
There are 40 new MPs in the new Parliament (electorate and list). There is a chance that your MP will be new.
When an MP changes so does their staff, so take the opportunity to also introduce yourself to their new staff members over the coming months. Office staff deal directly with the public and play an important role in advocating for the MPs constituents and pointing them towards services in the community. You might want to leave some flyers about your service with them.
Good practice guides
FinCap has produced “Good practice guides” to support Financial Mentors with their practice. The guides live on Te Papa Hou.
The Good practice guides are living documents and we welcome feedback on the topics and content.
Topics cover areas like best practice for Financial Mentoring, credit contracts, debt, dispute resolution, electricity, tenancy, employment, debt.
Contact email@example.com if you have any comments or suggestions about the Good practice guides.
Shopping for a loan leaflet from MBIE
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment have created a resource to inform people about new high cost lending rules, called Shopping for a Loan.
Your service should have received some directly from MBIE to distribute to your clients.
The resource has information about what to do before you agree to a loan, what to expect if you decide to borrow, knowing your rights and what to do if you have any issues.
View the resource here:
Order more of the resource here:
The Power Credits scheme through the Electricity Retailers Association of New Zealand has been extended until the 31st of May 2021.
Services on the scheme will have received an email from Jake Lilley our Consumer Issues Adviser about their allocation.
Please get in touch with him by the 12th of November if you have any questions on firstname.lastname@example.org
Skinny Jump not available currently in certain areas
The Skinny Jump address checker in your area may be coming up with no available coverage.
The areas affected are:
Kaitaia, Whitianga, Coromandel Town, Huntly, Te Aroha, Greerton, Fairfield, Otorohanga, Palmerston North, Patea, Shannon, Picton, Kaikoura & Riverton.
For the time being it may mean your organisation (in some of its locations) will need to take the Jump posters down and not actively promote the service, but that does not mean Skinny Jump will not be available again in the future.
Contact Sue Kini – the Stepping up Programme Manager if you have any questions on email@example.com
Rural Support Trust
A Financial Mentor wanted to share the details of this national NGO network with other Financial Mentors that work with rural clients.
Rural Support Trusts cover all aspects of rural agribusiness; dry stock, dairy, cropping, horticulture, forestry, poultry, and rural contracting.
They support all rural people – owners, managers, staff, and contractors. People can contact them to have a confidential conversation about any issues they are facing, including their business, employment, the weather, their finances or anything else they have concerns about.
They run workshops, get togethers and have events. They can connect people with further support if needed including business or financial support, health, mental health and counselling services.
Their services are free and confidential.
Opportunities for school leavers to work at Downer
Downer have full time roles available for youth as part of Whakatipu Tētēkura. They are hoping that you might have rangatahi in your community that are interested in being part of this programme.
What is Whakatipu Tētēkura:
Whakatipu Tētēkura is designed for Māori school leavers, and consists of a series of marae and classroom-based residential workshops where you will learn life skills training and qualifications to get you work ready and prepared for employment with Downer. This programme leads to full time permanent employment with Downer.
What’s on offer:
- The one week residential programme is– part marae based part classroom based which will give you:
- An introduction to the infrastructure industry
- Life skills training and qualifications to get you prepared for your new role
- Ongoing workplace, mentoring and qualification support
- There are two programmes 7th– 11th December 2020 and 14th-18th December 2020 (all costs covered by Downer).
- After you have successfully completed the programme you will be offered full time permanent employment (start date 2021) with career opportunities in front line crew positions nationwide.
Who can apply:
- They are looking for students finishing school or have recently left and are looking for a foot in the civil infrastructure door
- To be eligible you must be Māori between the ages of 17 – 24
- They are ideally looking for those who have a restricted driver’s license, bonus if you have a full class 1!
- They have roles nationally
Information for your client if they are interested:
- Apply now directly on line: https://bit.ly/2UmOcKN
- All we need from you is your CV, driver’s license details and what location you are looking for work.
- After you have applied online, if you are shortlisted we will give you a call for a phone screen – if you are successful you will have a face to face interview with a Downer manager in your location.
- If you impress the manager in your interview you will come to Christchurch for Whakatipu Tētēkura .
- After you have completed the programme you will be offered a contract and then start your new role.
- Please don’t delay your application we are looking to interview now
Please feel free to share this with your friends and whanau who might be interested.
If you would like more information you can visit: https://bit.ly/36Ch6MW
Advocating for Financial Mentors with Tenancy Bond Services to accept our Privacy Waiver
Last week a Financial Mentor emailed us to tell us that Tenancy Bond Services were not accepting our Privacy Waiver and were requiring the client to call up the centre and give verbal permission for the Financial Mentor to act on their behalf. This created extra work and stress for the client.
FinCap contacted one the people we work with a MBIE to ask why they weren’t accepting the Privacy Waiver. They passed the query on to the appropriate part of MBIE.
We got a swift response saying the information given to the Financial Mentor was incorrect and that they had subsequently made the information in their knowledge base for customer service representatives clearer.
They also apologised for this misunderstanding.
When issues like this arise, please contact FinCap and we will see what we can do.
We won’t always be able to help so quickly, but all information from the ground helps us to advocate for the systems that impact on your clients to become better.
That’s the beauty of working together as a sector.
Earlier this year, Malatest were commissioned by MSD to do two survey’s of the sector. One survey was of frontline staff and the other was of coordinators and managers in the sector. This is the second round of survey’s done. The first round was over the summer of 2018/2019.
They are worth reading for an insight into the views of the sector about the BFC system and also about the role of FinCap.
The survey’s can be found on the following links:
Frontline staff survey – https://bit.ly/32GsJkG
Leadership survey – https://bit.ly/38EtLBC
The Commission for Financial Capability has released its Complaints Snapshot for 2019/20, showing that we received nearly 10,000 complaints in the last financial year.
The Complaints Snapshot identifies through speech bubbles, some of the kinds of consumer complaints submitted to the Commission.
The impact of COVID-19 has seen a record level of travel-related complaints to the Commerce Commission in the 2019/20 year, and 20% of nearly 10,000 complaints relate to COVID-19 in some way.
Consumer complaints are important to the Commerce Commission and they continue to use these as one source of information in prioritising our work and identifying conduct they should investigate.
Complaints also show the Commerce Commission where consumers and businesses need more information to understand or comply with the law and help them show policy makers where the law is or isn’t working well.
The Commerce Commission cannot investigate everything and so they focus on issues relevant to the laws that that enforce that are likely to impact consumers and markets the most. They do not resolve private disputes. If complaints do not relate to the laws that they enforce, they often refer them to other agencies who can help.
FinCap encourages Financial Mentors to continue to put complaints into the Commerce Commission to help address the big issues we see in the consumer credit and debt collection areas.
You can read the latest Complaints Snapshot here:
Guidelines to help banks serve customer needs
The New Zealand Bankers’ Association has launched guidelines to help banks serve customer needs.
“The guidelines are designed to help bank staff deliver good customer outcomes. They build on the banking industry’s work following the Bank Conduct and Culture Review in 2018. They also reflect the Financial Markets Authority’s expectation that banks will serve customer needs. It’s all about making sure we continue to do the right thing by our customers,” says New Zealand Bankers’ Association chief executive Roger Beaumont.
“Customers are at the heart of banking and it’s important for banks to be clear on how they can best meet their customers’ needs.
“The guidelines set out six commitments that banks make to their customers, and how they will meet those commitments.”
The guidelines outline how banks will:
- Treat their customers fairly
- Recognise and prioritise customer interests
- Give customers clear, concise and effective information
- Design and provide products that meet customer needs
- Provide good customer care
- Identify, fix and learn from their mistakes.
“These were all identified in the conduct and culture review as areas where banks could show they were prioritising their customers.
“We worked with our member banks to develop these guidelines. We also consulted the FMA. In working closely with these stakeholders, we think we’ve come up with practical guidance in clear language that will help banks continue to deliver the good customer outcomes we all expect today,” Beaumont says.
The Banking Ombudsman, Nicola Sladden, says “I see these guidelines as a positive step. They support banks to meet their obligations under the Code of Banking Practice, and achieve better outcomes for their customers”.
The new guidelines flow from the high level commitments banks make to their customers in the Code of Banking Practice, and are designed to sit with the guidelines to help banks meet the need of older and disabled customers published last year.
The guidelines to help banks serve customer needs are available here: https://bit.ly/2GWGggd
Reserve Bank seeks to preserve benefits of cash
19 October 2020
The Reserve Bank – Te Pūtea Matua is taking on a new role of steward of the cash system “to preserve the benefits of cash for all who need them”, Assistant Governor Christian Hawkesby told the Royal Numismatics Society of New Zealand annual conference (Monday 19 October 2020).
“Cash is being used less as a means of payment and access to cash is declining. However, cash provides important benefits to many people, including legal tender money, social and financial inclusion, peer-to-peer payments, backup payments, and privacy and autonomy,” said Mr Hawkesby.
“We encourage every banking sector participant to consider their role in supporting the needs of their customers, including those who depend on cash for their everyday needs”, he said.
To support its strategic leadership, the Reserve Bank is building new analytical, policy and governance capability.
“In the years ahead, some of the biggest questions facing central banks could well be around the future of money itself”, Mr Hawkesby said.
The Reserve Bank’s immediate priority is to work with the banking and service industries to ensure that the cash system continues to be fit for purpose. Initiatives include reshaping vaulting arrangements, banknote standards, and building towards a sustainable future. Ultimately, a more transformational solution might be needed.
“Looking forward, we remain open minded about how the technology of money and payments will continue to evolve,” Mr Hawkesby said.
He added that central banks around the world, including the Reserve Bank, are researching retail central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). “Although we have no imminent plans to issue a CBDC, we are well-connected and considering these developments very closely.”
The Reserve Bank’s new direction for money and cash has emerged from its Future of Cash – Te Moni Anamata initiative which involved extensive public consultation in 2019.
Responsible Lending laws under attack in Australia
The Australian Government is planning to get rid of responsible lending laws.
Australia’s responsible lending laws were introduced in 2009, following the Global Financial Crisis (GFC).
The laws require banks to ensure a loan is “not unsuitable”, able to be repaid “without substantial hardship”, and meets the customer’s “requirements and objectives”.
They’re a preventative measure to make sure banks don’t sell loans, including credit cards, to people who can’t afford to repay them.
These laws influenced New Zealand’s Responsible Lending Principles which have been strengthened through the consumer credit reforms introduced in 2019.
The proposed laws are yet to be seen, but there are two key changes that will drastically change the balance of power in our marketplace.
- The law will no longer require lenders to properly verify the affordability and suitability of a loan.
- People will be restricted in taking action against the banks when they do the wrong thing.
- There won’t be any oversight or enforcement of consumer protections.
Read more about the proposed reforms here:
Consumer Action Law Centre website: https://bit.ly/2UppDwV
Article about Financial Counsellors response to the issue: https://ab.co/35qCwgx
CFFC research on financial literacy
The Commission for Financial Capability (CFFC), ran a survey among more than 3000 New Zealanders from January to June this year. It used questions from an OECD toolkit to measure understanding of basic financial concepts such as interest, inflation and risk diversification.
Only 22% of respondents answered all questions correctly. Results showed that while New Zealanders had a good understanding of inflation, interest and risk and return, they struggled with understanding compound interest, risk diversification and the time value of money – key concepts in growing money long term, particularly for retirement savings.
In the youngest age group (18-34), men and women started with the same score, but men increased their financial knowledge more with age.
“New Zealand’s results are consistent with other OECD surveys in which women score lower on financial literacy tests than men, and show they are risk-averse when it comes to investing,” says Jane Wrightson.
“Yet we also know that women are, on average, better than men at managing money in the short term, and when they do invest, are on average more successful than men.”
Wrightson says knowledge is key, and financial capability education is essential for girls while still at school.
Read the full press release here: https://bit.ly/3ltBplB
Read the full research report here: https://bit.ly/35q60Lg