We are piloting a free, independent debt advice service and an early assistance program to support customers experiencing financial hardship.
The independent debt advice pilot will initially focus on our home loan customers in Victoria, Australia. Kildonan Uniting Care, recognised experts in the field of financial counselling, will provide the over the phone service.
The pilot identifies customers who may benefit from speaking with a financial counsellor and provides them with information on Kildonan services and how to contact them.
Program Leader, Katie Rattigan, says, “Getting timely access to information and independent assistance when our customers need them most can be a challenge, with long waiting periods for face-to-face financial counselling services often the norm.”
“We also know that customers will often prefer to engage with an arm's length service to get advice on their whole financial situation, including debts outside of their ANZ accounts.
“Our debt advice pilot will assist on both fronts, providing customers with access to financial counselling that is convenient, accessible and potentially less daunting than a face-to-face service.
“An important aspect of this pilot is independence and confidentiality, so we will not provide customer details to Kildonan and they will not report client details on who has taken up the service back to us,” Katie said.
We have also been conducting an Early Assistance Pilot to support customers who are showing signs of potential financial stress, before they miss payments. The initiative offers customers access to a range of early assistance measures to help them avoid more serious financial problems down the track.
The pilot commenced in July and is targeting over 3,500 credit card customers. To date, more than 11 per cent of customers contacted have accepted our offer of support and say they will benefit from changes to their credit card product.
Early assistance measures offered to customers include temporary reduced repayment arrangements, instalment plans, more convenient ways to manage accounts and access to financial education and literacy programs.
Importantly, almost all of the customers we have spoken to during the pilot have appreciated the call, even if they did not require assistance.
Given the early success of the pilot, we are now looking to expand the program of early assistance to customers with multiple ANZ products in 2011.