When you can’t do what you know is right because something’s stopping you, it’s very different from flatly refusing to do it. In terms of debt recovery, we believe that difference is huge and is one reason why we’re advocating and implementing a much fairer and empathetic approach to securing repayment of debts. Debt troubles often start from life events; injury or accident, relationship breakdowns, loss of a job, all mostly out of anyone’s control. Timing then becomes key.
Because after the life issue that causes the non-payment, it usually takes a person around 12 months to get back on their financial feet. And nine times out of ten they will, given the chance. Unfortunately, this rehabilitation timetable is sometimes ignored by a process that treats everyone the same and demands to secure debt repayment fast. And here’s where the DebtManagers’ approach makes all the difference.
Firstly, we purchase a company’s entire debt book for a discount.
Then we invest our expertise and a willingness to work with people to manage them out of debt at their pace and in ways that don’t add to financial difficulty.
Identifying hardship is also vital.
Our team of hugely experienced front-line agents are experts at recognising key signs and signals and then creating repayment plans to suit those individual needs.
We also recommend financial mentors to work with the ‘can’t pays’ to deliver independent advice and help educate customers about their rights.
‘Won’t pays’ are a different story.
While most Kiwis are honest and take responsibility for the debt they’ve signed up for, there are always the few who have the means but will do anything to avoid paying off their debt.
We use all diligence to check that there isn’t hardship when we identify this sort of customer.
But, making sure people fulfill their obligations when they can afford it is fair.
Otherwise the rest of the community and the business involved are basically wearing the cost of goods or service this person owes the debt on.
So when hardship isn’t the issue, and the individual refusing to pay won’t engage, is aggressive, elusive and has never made any payment, we need to work through the legal processes.
This time-consuming, costly approach ultimately risks higher payments, determined by the court, and usually results in much higher costs worn by the customer.
The legal option is always the very last step we take and even with those who try to avoid their obligations, we always approach each situation with positive professionalism and work with these customer strictly within regulations.
All of which gives our business clients complete confidence.
They know that by selling their debt to us, we will look after their customers, take care of their brand’s reputation and deliver financial certainty that might otherwise be lost.
What’s also important to note is the growing call for further, more robust regulation and guidelines around the behaviour and responsibilities for those engaged in debt recovery.
It’s becoming clear that New Zealand needs a more defined regulatory regime.
One that more clearly sets out acceptable conduct and processes for our industry, including the often-debilitating practice of adding fees and interest.
DebtManagers will be part of that conversation and are striving to create a system that creates a fairer financial world where everyone can thrive.
And that’s the positive difference we set as a benchmark, delivering fairer financial outcomes for the clients and communities we work within.