Debt counsellors are responsible for dealing with complex debt situations, helping people to manage their finances and eventually become debt free. They provide impartial, confidential and practical help and advice to clients whose debts have got out of control, advising on issues such as financial planning, budgeting, money management and bankruptcy. they may be required to take on managerial responsibilities, such as leading a team of several debt counsellors or training new debt counsellors.
Debt counsellors liaise with creditors on behalf of clients, give legal advice and support clients with court proceedings. They also give emotional support to clients who are stressed or anxious about their financial situation.
They may work with clients face-to-face, in an advice centre or office, or visit outreach centres or clients’ homes to give advice. Others may work on a telephone help-line. They occasionally need to attend court.
Their tasks might include:
- talking to clients about their debt situation
- looking at clients’ income and expenditure
- offering emotional support to clients
- working out a realistic budget
- helping clients to determine priority payments
- preparing monthly payment plans for clients to follow
- advising about bankruptcy and court proceedings
- checking that creditors are demanding the right amount
- negotiating with creditors to arrange affordable, realistic repayments for the client
- advising about any welfare benefits clients may be eligible for
- representing clients in court.
Relevant work experience is of more importance than formal qualifications and most debt counsellors begin in a related voluntary role. It is important to demonstrate good people skills, so experience working with people in any capacity, but particularly with those who are vulnerable, will be of relevance.
It would be useful to have worked in a finance-related job such as a bank cashier, or in debt recovery, or even in a non-professional role such as managing a budget for a community group or society. Experience using computers working in an administrative capacity, would also be useful as debt counsellors divide their time between desk-based duties and liaising with clients.
As debt counsellors progress they may be required to take on managerial responsibilities, such as leading a team of several debt counsellors or training new debt counsellors.
- debt counselling companies
- charities that provide debt counselling
- citizen advice bureaux
- trade unions
- self-employment, with relevant experience