FinCap pānui – October 2021

Welcome from chief executive Ruth Smithers

Tēnā koutou

It’s been an interesting time recently with the change in alert levels and the uncertainty
surrounding COVID-19.

I want to acknowledge how difficult the lockdowns have been for many of us, and if there’s
anything we can do to support you please feel free to reach out.

It’s been great to hear many of our financial mentors have continued to support our
communities – whether it’s been through online support or helping in the foodbank.

We were travelling back from our regional hui in Whanganui when we heard the latest Alert
Level 4 announcement.

This meant I had to drive another five hours back to Taranaki so I could lockdown with my
whānau but, luckily, I made the 11.59pm deadline.

It’s been great to catch up with many of you online during this time to help you build the
connections with other services in your region.

We’ve been able to answer some of your questions, so check out our guidance for financial
mentoring services page on Te Papa Hou if there is something you’re unsure about.

It’s important to note changes to the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act (CCCFA)
will now come into force on 1 December 2021 because of COVID-19.

Unfortunately, we’ve also had to postpone some of our upcoming regional hui to later as we
know many of you would prefer to have these face-to-face.

This was a hard call for us to make but your safety is our top priority, so we’ll only resume
the regional hui under Alert Level 1.

We’ll keep everyone who has registered up-to-date through email, but you can also check
out any updates on our regional hui page on Te Papa Hou.

Until then, make sure you keep ‘some gas in the tank’ for yourself so you can continue with
your amazing work in your communities.

Ngā mihi mahana
Ruth

Lockdown didn’t slow down North Shore service

The latest lockdown has been tough for many whānau in Aotearoa, and those in Auckland
are especially feeling the pinch.

North Shore Budget Service has been in service for more than 26 years and continued to
work with their clients in the region throughout lockdown.

Following the fallout from COVID-19, their financial mentoring services were in high demand.

Read more on the FinCap website

Support our bid for sustainable funding

FinCap is calling for an increase in overall funding to higher levels and for all financial
mentors so we can continue to support our communities.

We know many services received an increase in funding to help your community through the
first COVID-19 lockdown in early 2020, and this funding is set to end in June 2022.

Many services have run on the ‘smell of an oily rag’ for far too long, and we want to try and
help alleviate some of this pressure so you can focus on what’s most important – the
communities we serve.

How you can help

We’ve developed a toolkit to help us campaign for ongoing, sustainable funding for financial
mentoring services through your local media.

We’ll share this toolkit with the primary contact we have on record for each service in a
separate email this week.

We’re also asking all financial mentors to take a few minutes out of your busy day to fill out
this survey by COB Monday 25 October.

The data we collect in this survey will help support our bid – you can share as much or as
little as you want.

We’ll approach this funding at a systemic level with the Ministry of Social Development and
Minister for Social Development and Employment Carmel Sepuloni.

New tools for sector following training review

We’re pleased to let you know you can now access the two new tools which have been
developed as part of our ongoing training review.

The independent review is being undertaken by the Fin-Ed Centre at Massey University to
understand what training is available to financial mentors, to better determine the needs of
the sector.

These tools have been developed independently by the Fin-Ed Centre:

  • Competency Framework
  • Self-assessment Tool

The Competency Framework consolidates the skills, knowledge and competencies an
effective financial mentor needs and will be a guide for the sector going forward.

We’ve worked with key national and international stakeholders engaged in BFC workforce
training to develop this resource. Please keep in mind this is a living document and will keep
evolving as we continue this journey together.

The Self-assessment Tool measures competency levels of both individual financial mentors
and the sector collectively. It will help us identify individual training and professional
development needs and provide an indication of any areas needing further developing within
an organisation.

This will support a focus on what areas you may want to develop immediately and in going
forward.

Both resources can be used as ongoing professional development and appraisals tools.

New Red Flags being released for sector

The Commerce Commission has revised the Red Flags resource to reflect the recent law
changes. Following feedback and input from financial mentors, it has evolved into a more
comprehensive guide to help mentors deal with the credit related issues they regularly
encounter.

The new Red Flags covers 12 red flag areas such as mobile traders, high cost lending,
disclosure, responsible lending, assessing for affordability and suitability, debt collection and
more. Each page sets out the law in more detail, the red flags that mentors typically
encounter and guidance about what you can do.

A page on Next Steps provides detailed guidance on how to deal with the issues including
interacting with lenders, dispute schemes and the Commerce Commission. There is a page
dedicated to vehicle finance providing guidance on how to deal with issues under the
Consumer Guarantees Act, including vehicles purchased on finance where faults are
substantial or cause safety issues.

The new Red Flags will be launched at the Commission’s upcoming Consumer Adviser
Seminars on 6 and 8 October and hard copies can be ordered for your service through a
survey that will follow the seminar, or by contacting credit.advocacy@comcom.govt.nz after
the seminars.

A voice for those in need: latest submissions

We’ve been busy with some important submissions to help support our vision of people,
whānau and communities free of hardship. Submissions are one way we can advocate for
system-level change.

If you haven’t ready them already, we encourage you to check them out:

  • 27 September: Draft report to the New Zealand Telecommunications Forum Inc. on
    recommendations for improvements to the TDRS
  • 25 August: Letter of support for Consumer NZ submission responding to the Market
    study into the retail grocery sector Draft report
  • 25 August: A fair chance for all; Breaking the disadvantage cycle; Scoping the Terms
    of Reference for an inquiry
  • 20 August: Improving the framework for the Authority’s information gathering
    Consultation paper
  • 12 July: Extending the Electricity Price Review’s Final Recommendations to the Gas
    Market June 2021 Consultation Document

For more information on any of these submissions, get in touch with our policy advisor Jake
Lilley on jake@fincap.org.nz or keep up-to-date on our FinCap submissions page.

Thanks for sharing your debt collection stories

We want to say a big thank you to all of our financial mentors who spoke with Victoria
University senior lecturer Victoria Stace and Liz Gordon, of Pukeko Research, to help with
our research on debt collection.

We released the report in September and gained lots of traction with media including Radio
NZ, Stuff, Magic Talk, Newstalk ZB and NZ Herald. Our policy advisor Jake Lilley has been a
great spokesperson for us on this topic.

This has been an important opportunity for us to highlight the need for robust regulation to
counter unfair debt collection practices in Aotearoa with decision makers and we hope this
has kickstarted this conversation.

Read the full report on the FinCap reports page

Save the date – financial capability webinar

We’re inviting financial mentors to join us on our What’s happening on the ground? webinar
in November for key stakeholders.

The Retirement Commission has asked us to run this webinar as part of the National
Strategy for Financial Capability.

The webinar will be held on Wednesday 17 November from 10am to 11am on Zoom.
This is an opportunity for us to give people in positions of influence some insight into the
important mahi we do and the impact we have on people’s lives.

We’d be delighted if you can attend but please keep in mind this session is aimed at
stakeholders, so we’ll prioritise questions from them.

If there are specific queries you want to raise with FinCap please use our usual channels.

You can register to attend using the link below, and we’ll share more details about how to
attend with everyone who registers closer to the time.

Harmoney will pay $7 million in compensation

Some of your clients may be entitled to a refund from Harmoney, following a recent ruling by
the Commerce Commission. However, due to the potential number of affected borrowers it
may take up to two years to complete this process.

Since it started business in August 2014, Harmoney has charged borrowers a ‘platform fee’ that it added to loans arranged through its platform. The nature and amount of the platform fee has changed several times since Harmoney began trading; it was initially a percentagebased fee of up to $1500 and was changed to a fixed fee of up to $500.

The Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act (CCCFA) requires that fees must be reasonable and cannot exceed the lender’s transaction-specific costs. As part of its settlement with the Commission, Harmoney has admitted that its platform fee was an unreasonable establishment fee.

Harmoney has agreed to charge no more than $165 for any establishment fee on new consumer loans for the next five years.

Harmoney will repay a total of $7 million to approximately 37,000 borrowers it over-charged on loans entered into between 26 August 2014 and 25 August 2021, and will be contacting affected borrowers as part of the settlement.

If any of your clients had loans with Harmoney that were entered into between 26 August 2014 and 25 August 2021 they may be due a refund. In October, Harmoney have undertaken to have information on their website for borrowers to register the account they would like the refund paid into.

You can read the settlement agreement on the Commerce Commission website.

Housing crisis: low-income left exposed

Garages, shared housing, tiny homes… the list of ways to afford housing in Aotearoa goes on.

Nelson Budget Service says there is not enough rental housing to meet demand in their region.

“Many people are struggling to find anywhere to rent, let alone it being both a suitable and
an affordable place to live,” says financial mentor Lisa Dyer.

Read more on the MoneyTalks news page

Key credit documents now in seven languages

Many people face challenges when it comes to credit reporting, and language barriers can
create extra pressure where it’s not needed.

To help with this challenge, Centrix has recently translated two key documents into the
seven most spoken languages in Aotearoa:

  • Your Credit Report (other languages)
  • FAQ’s – Other Languages

These documents are now available in English, Māori, Chinese (simplified), Hindi, Korean,
Samoan and Tongan.

We hope this will help support people who need to find out more information around credit reporting.

Partnership making a difference on the ground

We recently highlighted some of the great work being undertaken by services as part of our
partnership with the New Zealand Bankers’ Association.

We were given the opportunity to speak to chief executives from 17 different banks recently
to give them insight into some of the challenges faced by the people we support.

Murupara Budget Advisory Services Trust shared some feedback from some of their clients
who are learning about digital literacy as part of this.

The service is helping people in their community access online banking by providing tools
and training to help them do so – you can meet some very happy clients in this video.

We also have some resources from banks around digital literacy to share with you on Te
Papa Hou to help your clients.

We’ll also have more resources to share with you to help you promote your service in your
community soon.

Communities of Practice

We also have some of our communities of practice underway, and we’ve had some great
feedback from financial mentors so far.

Marton & Districts Budget Service financial mentor Cherie Duncan says the regional CoPs
have been great so far.

“I enjoy seeing familiar faces and getting to know new mentors outside of my district. This
helps build my collaboration with other services and agencies across Aotearoa,” she says.

“I love the fact that we can share our journeys or stories with others, or ask for advice when
we are stuck finding solutions to hard cases we come across.

“Our community practice has helped me feel more confident in voicing my opinions and
opening doors to other people within our sector and being heard to make positive changes.”

If you’re interested in joining a CoP or already have one and would like to tap into our
resources, please email financial mentor advisor Bella Tioro on bella@fincap.org.nz.

Money a hot topic for Sorted Money Week

Te Aroha Family Budgeting Services financial mentors Lyn Beer and Sandie Cooper at their
stall during Sorted Money Week

A cup of hot soup was the ticket to get whānau in Waikato talking about money as part of
Sorted Money Week recently.

The week is a timely reminder to take control of your personal finance through initiatives in
schools, workplaces and communities.

Te Aroha Family Budgeting Services set up a stall in the middle of town and handed out hot
soup to passers-by during the week to promote the service – going through four crock pots
in three hours.

During the day, they connected with a local councillor who suggested they apply for
community funds for the cooking classes they want to run, signed up a new client and were
given six free family passes to a local show (which were given to some grateful clients).

“It was such a success that we are thinking of doing this at least quarterly, and change the
free food to something seasonal,” says manager Sarah Matafeo-Ross.

On a national level, MoneyTalks put together a joint video with Heart Foundation to promote
ways to eat well on a budget which had some great feedback from those involved.

We also posted this article to our Facebook page which was shared by the Ministry of Social
Development and Office for Seniors NZ – and reached more than 3000 people.

Client Voices training on Community Heart

We now have an online course for Client Voices on our online learning platform Community
Heart called Client Voices for Financial Mentors. This is available to anyone with a
Community Heart account.

The course is focused on introducing financial mentors who will be using the application
regularly. Ideal for new financial mentors but recommended for any current financial mentor
interested in making the most of all features in Client Voices.

There are 11 modules which you can complete in your own time. The modules each focus
on a major aspect of Client Voices, taking you on a deep dive to help you understand which
features are available and how you’re expected to use them.

We are also developing a course aimed at managers, which we hope to release by the end
of 2021.

Other training

We’ve had an increase in the use of Community Heart but we still only have 10 percent of
our registered financial mentors using it. There are two new programmes also available:

  • An Introduction to the Strength-based Approach
    Risk Management Protection and Insurance 2

We encourage you to complete these online modules if you haven’t already. Get in touch
with training programme advisor Nige Cox on nige@fincap.org.nz.

Referrals from our MoneyTalks team

Our MoneyTalks team has had some cases recently where they’ve referred callers to their
local service, and the service has been closed for an extended period of time without our
knowledge.

If your service won’t be attended for an extended period of time and you won’t have an outof-office response, please get in contact with our MoneyTalks lead Angela Smart via angela@moneytalks.co.nz to let us know.

We can hold off on any referrals until you are able to take them again.

Join the FMA for World Investor Week 2021

World Investor Week 2021 is happening from 4 – 10 October this year to raise awareness
about the importance of investor education and protection. It’s hosted in Aotearoa by the
Financial Markets Authority (FMA).

The theme is Investing FOMO? Take a Mo’ which supports recent FMA research that almost
one-third of investors said they’d jumped into an investment in the last two years because
they didn’t want to miss out.

The FMA is focusing on the many thousands of people who have recently taken an interest
in investing through online platforms, so they can make informed decisions and protect
themselves against risks.

Check out their media campaign promoting The Five D’s of DIY Investing:

  • Do your due diligence
  • Drip feed your investments
  • Diversify
  • Don’t freak out if markets go down
  • In Doubt? Talk to a financial adviser.

Something to share?

If you have a story to share, please reach out to communications advisor Amie Hickland at
amie@fincap.org.nz.

Follow FinCap and MoneyTalks on Facebook to keep up to date with the latest news and
information

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