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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

NCR/University of Pretoria research investigates blockages hindering effective debt counselling processes

Debt counselling was introduced in South Africa (SA) through the National Credit Act (NCA) in 2007. As a groundbreaking first for the SA credit industry, it enables over‐indebted consumers, through the assistance of debt counsellors, to renegotiate their repayment obligations, with approval from the Magistrates Courts.

Peter Setou, National Credit Regulator’s (NCR) Senior Manager: Education and Strategy, says the debt counselling process has disappointingly been obstructed by uncertainty and inconsistencies in procedures among the various parties participating in the process, and on interpretation of some of the key sections of the NCA and its Regulations.“There are too many instances of debt restructuring not being successfully achieved.Applications for restructuring are not being smoothly and quickly processed and finalised by the courts. And obstructed debt review process can have severe consequences for the consumer (in the form of house or vehicle repossessions), for the lenders themselves, and for the broader SA credit industry.”
Setou says that the NCR commissioned a research project, conducted by the University of Pretoria Law Clinic, to highlight shortcomings in the debt restructuring process and applicable law, and identify the parties responsible for delays or preventing the finalisation of the process. The study would then make proposals to improve the debt review process and identify where the NCA and its Regulations require amendment.

In examining the practices of credit providers/lenders, the study considers the level of their cooperation with debt counsellors, and the extent and degree to which they are reneging on agreements reached. It also looks at several areas where there is non‐compliance with the NCA.
For example, some take too long to issue a certificate of outstanding balance (COB) of debt – the requirement for this is five days, with the research study average shown to be at around ten days, although this has come down from a very lengthy 20 days. Some are not even responding to certificate of balance requests or some of these certificates contained incorrect and incomplete information.

In general the COB’s are getting closer to the 10 days period, however, are still outside the 5 days requirement period. Some credit providers failed to furnish copies of credit agreements when requested by the debt counsellor or consumer.

Many credit providers are not responding to debt restructuring proposals, others take too long to respond, and some even respond negatively by offering ridiculous offers for consumers’ debts. Many of their objections to restructuring proposals are based on legal technicalities relating to court geographic or monetary jurisdiction. In general, they are exploiting certain shortcomings in the NCA to obstruct the debt review process.

These types of undesirable practices have meant debt counsellors have been compelled to refer debt review matters to court without sending restructuring proposals for consideration and approval to credit providers.

Credit providers are also engaging in other unacceptable practices such as inappropriate set‐off of consumer assets against specific debts, and failing to stop debit orders when requested. They also continue to enforce repayment of debts while the consumer is formally under debt counselling, they sometimes terminate a debt review process that has already commenced, or take legal action against a consumer after a debt restructuring application has been lodged in the courts. The various product lines and divisions within a single credit provider do not communicate with each other, giving rise to inconsistencies.
Several other problems relating to credit providers were examined – incorrect or inappropriate interest rate reductions being used in their restructuring counter proposals; incorrect or unavailable documentary proof and affidavits; and obstructively excluding vehicle financing agreements from restructuring proposals, by claiming these are rental rather than finance agreements.

The debt counsellors themselves were also at fault in some instances.
For example, the NCA requirement is that a debt counsellor must make a determination as to ver‐indebtednesswithin 60 business days of receipt of the consumer’s application for debt eview. Several were found to be well outside this time limit, with the majority citing non o‐operation of credit providers as the reason. Several cases of lack of education, experience and competence by debt counsellors were identified, leading to ill‐informed debt restructuring proposals for consumers. There were cases of unacceptable proposals, and even no proposals, being sent to credit providers.

The study has made several recommendations with regard to practices and procedures which should improve the debt counselling process:

• Improved training of debt counsellors and credit provider staff;

• Improved communication between debt counsellors and credit providers;

• The formulas/software used by debt counsellors in evaluating indebtedness and the format of their restructuring proposals need to be standardised;

• The establishment of a special Ombuds office catering for debt review related matters, in order to streamline complaints and offer specialised dispute resolution. (The NCR is presently responsible for all complaints lodged against credit providers and debt counsellors.)

Several legislative and regulatory amendments to the NCA and its Regulations were also proposed, relating to:

• The education, experience and competency requirements for debt counsellors;

• The Certificate of Balance request should be standardised and included in NCA Regulations;

• The powers of the courts in cases where consumers are determined to be overindebted;

• An improved Form 16 (the form completed by the consumer at time of debt review application), which will assist debt counsellors to obtain sufficient and more detailed information;

• The burden and recovery of debt counselling costs, with credit providers also possibly bearing some of these;

• Several other recommendations on court processes, referrals to court when consensus on restructuring cannot be met, declarations of reckless credit and the consequential discharge of a consumer’s debt, the correct process when one of the parties withdraws from the debt review process, and cases when the consumer himself applies to court for relief from disabilities resulting from debtrearrangement.
Setou concludes that this research makes an invaluable contribution in resolving the current challenges experienced in the debt counselling process. “Debt review is an extremely effective debt relief measure and the NCR is committed to ensuring its optimal operation.”

Provided by
FEZILE AFRICA
Thanks to:LEBOGANG SELIBI
THE NATIONAL CREDIT REGULATOR

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Doing Job interviews online

So what should you do if you're asked to interview by Skype — or even brave enough to suggest it yourself?
Here is some advice from the experts:

First off, realize that we perceive people differently through a camera than we do in person. Bill McGowan, a former news anchor who now trains people to go on TV, starts his list of pointers with lighting: whether you're sitting in your kitchen or an office borrowed from a friend, make sure there's no bright light (like from a window) behind you. That will only darken your face. When your interviewer is talking, it's fine to look at his image on the screen, but when you answer, look at the camera. That's how to make "eye contact." Avoid wearing patterns and the color white, since we notice white spots on a screen first — you want your interviewer drawn to your teeth and eyes, not to your shirt. And don't forget that what's behind you is visible too. "It's best to put away the Mad Men bar," says McGowan.

Next, think about framing. Sitting flush with a plain white wall will make you look like you're in a police lineup, so angle your knees to the corner of your computer screen, and then turn your head slightly back to look at the camera. Sit tall in your chair, but not too close to the camera: the first three buttons of your shirt should be visible, or else you risk looking like a floating head, counsels Priscilla Shanks, a coach for broadcast journalists and public speakers. Most important, do a dry run with a friend to check your color, sound and facial expressions — neutral often comes off as glum onscreen. (See pictures of vintage computers.)

After all that, don't forget that this is still a job interview. Even though you're not meeting face to face, dress as though you are. When you "walk in," have your résumé ready — this time, as an e-mail attachment. And don't forget to do all the standard prep work. Are you ready to talk about your greatest weakness? "This adds another layer, but people will still expect you to be prepared to have a conversation with them," says career counselor Judith Gerberg.

Though that's not to say you can't acknowledge the medium. This past summer, Deanna Reed, principal of the Marie Murphy School in suburban Chicago, started doing Skype interviews and has already considered candidates from as far away as Asia. "The time difference was so great, it was like 1 in the morning for him," she says about a teacher in Japan. "I said, 'Oh, you had to get on your suit in the middle of the night?' And he said, 'No, I have my pajamas on the bottom.' He was fun — he had a real sense of humor." Even over video, it's possible to make a great first impression.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Making use of the banks "quicksell" facility

If you are in trouble the banks have recently been offering clients the opportunity to have them help you move the property through their Quicksell facility. It's not a auction and there is a bit more control in this process.

For an Example : FNB have quicksell facility and a website called www.quicksell.co.za. They say the quicksell option offers advantages to both the distressed seller and the buyer. Often people try to sell their homes via an estate agent when they realise they can't keep up the payments, but have been unable to get offers high enough to repay their outstanding mortgages (remember this is not about making a huge profit rather about cutting ones losses).
As part of the quicksell deal, FNB discounts the seller's residual debt and saves on commission which would normally go to the estate agent. Buyers get a 50% discount on transfer costs and registration fees- these are good things.

It is important to note that should there be a shortfall the client would still be liable for this (you have to sign for it). However, as mentioned, the shortfall amount may be reduced(discounted) by the bank. Some have had the shortfall reduced by as much as R100 000.

Here are some of FNB's stated benefits:
  • An attractive discount, of minimum of R30, 000 or 10% of current outstanding loan balance (which ever is greater), will be applied.
  • Any shortfall is repayable at the prime lending rate.
  • You stay in control of the sale of the property, meaning a minimum reserve price will be agreed upon upfront.
  • The estate agent's commission will be covered by FNB Home Loans which is part of the discount offering.
  • FNB offers buyers up to 100% bonds on all Quick Sell Properties.
  • Buyers receive a 50% discount on both transfer costs and registration fees


This should be considered as an option for those who are really struggling to sell there property and who need to reduce their debt. After all the debt repayments on R50 000 outstanding maybe much more manageable than repayments on R900 000 each month... even after paying rent somewhere.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Spice up your CV- advice from Gerard le Roux

Why not go have a look and see if your CV needs a little spicing up.(Editor)





2 CV Examples and My Analysis to Help You

Can your CV really have 'bash-down-door' power? You may think not. And that may be because:
You just don't know how to put "you" on paper in a way that creates impact; or
You may feel you're just average, there's nothing really special about you.

Do you mind me telling you you're wrong on count no. 2. Unless you're a real 'dingbat' you really do have something special to offer. This is a topic for another day however.

Regarding putting the best of you down on paper, in a CV, however, I've provided a lot of good info up at www.wowcv.net. And of special note, I've put 2 sample CVs up there for you do see and download. They also contain my inserted analysis of how I've written them and why I've done them the way I have.

WARNING! before you go there. Every CV is unique. No 2 CV's are ever the same (well, in my mind and practice anyhow) so the CV's you'll see were tailored to be just right for their owners (not for you!).
But nonetheless there's lots for you to learn from the samples and from my analysis.

You'll find them here:

http://getresponse.com/click.html?x=a62b&lc=056r&mc=m&s=Zyvg&y=T&

You'll also find more CV writing ideas at www.wowcv.net/gerards-blog - this is where I post any new ideas I have about how to make your CV really stand out. These are ideas that you won't read anywhere else.
Join me on Facebook.

Regards,

Gerard le Roux
CV Writer and Job Hunting Coach
083 744 5454
gerard@jobsearching.co.za
www.jobsearching.co.za [The Job Search Clinic]
www.wowcv.net [CV Writing]

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

What happens if i just don't pay...ever?

So what if you just don't pay?
Well if you are unable or unwilling to pay your debt and you just ignore it then it is very likely that your creditors will eventually take judgment against you (first there will be a summons).

Ok, so what happens then?
There are several things that can happen:

1) They can attach your assets
2) They can demand a portion of your monthly salary
3) You will be listed on the credit bureau (in a very bad way)

And just so you know the judgment stays in place for 30 years.
This means that your creditor has 30 years to collect what you owe.

So the truth is you will pay ...eventually.

It is always much better to make a plan with your creditors to pay them back over time or to approach a Debt Counsellor (or other qualified individual) to assist you to make such a plan.