Where can people get financial advice?
The world of money is a bewildering one. It’s little wonder that many of us get lost in it – particularly when bad luck, such as redundancy or bereavement, strikes.
Many charities and non-profit organisations run benefits, debt and money advice services to support clients with empathy and expertise through the toughest of times.
Yet in recent years, and particularly during lockdown, such services have come under huge pressure from both funding cuts and rapidly increasing demand.
Connect Assist runs expert money advice services for several organisations, helping to take the strain at this incredibly difficult time.
How can people get help with money?
Money advice services are there to offer judgement-free support for people who are facing financial difficulty.
Helpline financial advisors can listen to people’s money woes and untangle complex issues. They might offer credit or debt counselling: reviewing a client’s finances, and perhaps helping them set up a Debt Management Plan to repay their creditors and stop interest and charges from piling up.
And advisors can even help clients uncover money they are owed, perhaps from unclaimed benefits or forgotten pensions. Sometimes, these sums are life-changing.
A good advisor would never treat someone harshly for past unwise choices: they understand how quickly finances can spiral out of control.
Signposting for further support
One of the reasons so many people end up in financial dire straits is that the benefits, debt and money landscape is so complicated. According to official figures, around £16 billion in means-tested benefits was unclaimed in 2019.
Charities and agencies do sterling work in complementing the benefits system, but navigating between them can be confusing. So a key part of an advisor’s role is to signpost customers to further benefits and services, such as those run by the Citizens’ Advice Bureaux.
At Connect Assist, we use an excellent piece of AI-powered tech to guide customers through this labyrinth.
Oracle Intelligent Advisor is a powerful tool that enables clients to discover what benefits or other services they might be entitled to. It handles complex calculations and automates decisions, supporting the role of advisors or even allowing customers to self-serve.
It uses natural language processing and understanding, and can be customised for different languages. That means that people can access the information they need in a way that they understand.
By automating much of the advice process, Intelligent Advisor frees up expert staff to focus on the delicate and skilled task of providing empathetic counselling.
Funding for benefits, debt and money advice services
Sadly, just as many individuals have suffered financially under austerity policies and lockdown, so too have the organisations that seek to help them.
According to the Institute of Fundraising (IoF), 55% of UK charities say they are concerned that demand for their services will outstrip their capacity this winter. The sector is estimated to be facing a £10.1 bn funding gap.
The IoF has put together this helpful guide to Coronavirus emergency funding sources. But as every fundraiser knows, grant applications take time and expertise – and your overstretched staff may not have any to spare.
Freeing them up from frontline duties can help your charity to invest in its future by applying for relevant grants or loans. Again, the Oracle Intelligent Advisor can guide them through the process, helping you discover new sources of funding for your vital helplines.
Outsourcing your money advice services to Connect Assist
Our FCA advisors are qualified professionals, with the practical knowledge and personal skills to advise customers facing a wide range of financial challenges, as well as signposting to other organisations and charities that can offer additional support.
Meanwhile, our highly experienced benefit, debt and money advice (BDMA) advisors will listen and signpost customers to organisations that can help, although they can’t offer any kind of financial advice themselves. Our BDMA expert advisors are able to handle calls with an exceptionally high level of empathy to the customer’s situation and careful consideration of their mental health.
They run omnichannel helplines on behalf of several major charities, including Veterans’ Gateway and the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity.
We can work on an overflow basis, providing your helplines out-of-hours or during busy periods. As the Coronavirus furlough scheme winds down, we sadly predict a rise in calls to charity money advice services.
Contact us today to discuss how we can support you in your vital work.