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This apprenticeship standard has been approved for delivery by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education.  However, starts on the apprenticeship will only be possible once a suitable end-point assessment organisation (EPAO) has given an ‘in principle’ commitment to the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) to deliver assessments on this apprenticeship standard. Once the ‘in principle’ commitment has been approved by ESFA, funding for apprentice starts will be permitted and this message will be removed

Overview of the role

Assess a customers full circumstances and provide suitable advice to enable the customer to best manage their debts.

Debt adviser

Details of standard

Occupation summary

This occupation is found in the debt advice sector. Employers range from local authorities and charities through to commercial organisations, all of whom provide free debt advice to customers.

The broad purpose of the occupation is to assess a customers full circumstances and provide suitable advice to enable the customer to best manage their debts. This advice must delivered to high quality and always in line with Financial Conduct Authority rules, guidance and principles.

Typical activities include making suitable enquiries in order to understand the customers past decisions, present difficulties and future aspirations. The Debt Adviser then assesses the holistic picture including the customer’s income and expenditure, family composition, debt commitments, and any factors affecting well-being, vulnerabilities or health; which they analyse in the round to create a customer budget and an accurate customer financial statement. They handle confidential and sensitive information, providing the customer with information about all available suitable solutions, which can range from budgeting advice through to formal insolvency solutions.Many solutions are free to access but some solutions may come at a cost. Debt Advisers must have a comprehensive awareness of all potential debt solutions in order to carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages of all available options with each customers individual circumstances. This can often include solutions that are not available through the Debt Advisers own organisation and will therefore mean sign-posting the customer to another organisation. The debt advice assessment typically happens at least twice in the customer journey; at the point of initial advice and then later at an annual review, however Debt Advisers will sometimes see customers with on-going complex circumstances much more frequently.

In their daily work, an employee in this occupation interacts with mainly customers and/or their advocates – with the right consent - and creditors. In some organisations, the Debt Adviser will be responsible for customer casework from start to completion, in other organisations the Debt Adviser may work as part of a larger team responsible for casework and may therefore specialise in certain aspects of debt advice.

An employee in this occupation will be responsible for supporting customers in financial difficulty, many of whom will have multi-complex vulnerabilities. Such support is often provided against a challenging back-drop; for instance, many customers may feel there is a stigma when talking generally about their own money, or may find it hard to talk about their personal relationships even when these are affecting their debts.

Debt Advisers have a responsibility therefore to approach debt advice in a non-judgemental, supportive way, build and maintain a customer relationship, encouraging openness but showing resilience where necessary in order to help the customer to find a suitable solution; this can mean being persuasive, for instance encouraging a customer to maximise their income through a positive change in lifestyle, but also pointing out any associated risks. To achieve these aims the Debt Adviser must carefully manage their own workload; balancing customer interaction with regulatory requirements and keeping accurate and compliant records at all times. They may be liaising with creditors, government agencies or other stakeholders in order to maximise income, reduce outgoings or arrange further customer support mechanisms, and will adopt the best possible and appropriate stance in order to achieve the desired outcome for the customer. A Debt Adviser will normally work on a one to one basis with their customer, and will have considerable accountability for the advice they give, however they would also be typically supervised by a senior person (who could be, but is not always, a more experienced Debt Adviser themselves) who will be the point of escalation for complex customer cases.

Typical job titles include:

Creditor liaison officer Debt adviser Debt solutions adviser Financial solutions adviser Insolvency practitioner Personal finance manager Review specialist Solutions adviser


Occupation duties

Duty

KSBs

Duty 1 Debt advice regulations - Perform their day-to-day duties in accordance with the requirements covering all aspects of the Financial Conduct Authority's regulatory framework, guidance and Principles.

K1 K2 K7 K8

S1 S2 S7 S8

B1 B3 B4

Duty 2 Know your customer - Validate customers’ identity and assess their Mental Capacity to make informed decisions at every touch point and respond accordingly. Where the customer is represented by an advocate, validate they have the correct authority to act.

K1 K2 K3 K8

S1

B1 B2 B4 B5 B6

Duty 3 Develop a budget - Gather and assess customers’ financial situation, relevant personal circumstances and foreseeable events to ensure the most suitable advice is provided.

K2 K3 K4 K5 K7 K8

S2 S7 S8 S9

B1 B3 B4 B5

Duty 4 Make a recommendation - Provide professional, compliant and suitable debt advice - provide an accurate financial statement and reflective suitability statement.

K2 K3 K5 K6 K7 K8 K9

S3 S7 S8 S9

B1 B2 B4 B5

Duty 5 Evidence - Gather and analyse evidence to support the recommendation such as wage slips, credit reports.

K3 K4 K8 K10

S2 S5 S6 S9

B4 B5

Duty 6 Financial capability - Provide both budgeting advice and income maximization opportunities ranging from switching energy suppliers to benefit entitlements.

K2 K4 K7 K8 K9

S3 S4 S7 S8 S9

B1 B4 B5 B6

Duty 7 Extra support - Assess whether other organisations are likely to assist the customer (financially or otherwise) either through specialist guidance or direct support. Sign-post and make referrals as appropriate to organisations in the commercial, public and not-for-profit sectors. Identify the impact of vulnerabilities and provide extra support or signposting (as appropriate) in order to safeguard the customers best interests.

K2 K3 K8 K9

S4 S5 S7 S8 S9

B1 B4 B5

Duty 8 Record keeping - Produce accurate and good quality record keeping to enable a consistent and smooth customer journey.

K2 K8 K10

S5 S6 S8

B5

Duty 9 Expressions of dissatisfaction - Identify and respond to expressions of dissatisfaction and seek early resolution or escalation where required.

K2 K9 K10

S3 S7 S8

B1 B2 B4 B6

Duty 10 Debts and assets - Set realistic expectations with customers in order to agree the next steps and prevent detriment. Clearly articulate any risks in terms of expected creditor behaviour asset liquidation and enforcement action.

K2 K3 K4 K5 K6 K7 K8 K9

S2 S3 S7 S8

B1 B2 B4 B5 B6


KSBs

Knowledge

K1: How to verify and record customer identity before providing debt advice, in accordance with both data protection (GDPR), Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulation and organisational procedures. Debt Advisers will know the procedures for working with formal and informal advocacy and the relevant consents and authority to act. Back to Duty

K2: How to recognise the signs of customer vulnerability, and how to identify the likely impact that has on both the customers’ financial and general well-being. They must know how and when to sign-post the customer to other forms of support. When to escalate an issue within their own organisation, or externally. Back to Duty

K3: How to establish their customers overall financial circumstances, impact of vulnerabilities, future aspirations, income, outgoings, and debts. How to identify key information likely to affect the customers overall financial situation and decision-making. Back to Duty

K4: The wide potential range of income and capital types such as wages, benefits and savings. How to collect, verify, calculate and manage data relating to the customers income in order to calculate gross, net and disposable income. Back to Duty

K5: Debt types including secured debts (for example mortgage debt), consumer credit debts (for example catalogue debt), priority debt arrear (such as utilities), and informal debts (for instance to friends and family). The Debt Adviser must know the recovery processes and rules for all these debt types. What makes a debt a fraudulent debt and know the procedures needed in these circumstances. The Debt Adviser will know and understand Industry expenditure guidelines. Back to Duty

K6: How to gain the necessary intelligence on the creditor & their typical behaviours, including the creditors normal stance and appetite for interest suppression, negotiation, debt waiver, and legal action. Back to Duty

K7: The range of both debt solutions and expenditure reduction options available, including the costs, benefits, and financial implications for the customer. Income maximisation and the general options available such as employment opportunities and benefit entitlement. Back to Duty

K8: How to access and keep up to date with Financial Conduct Authority rules, guidance and principles relevant to the provision of debt advice / debt counselling. Back to Duty

K9: The ethical standards that the organisation and sector requires of Debt Advisers and the implications of these for the role i.e. Professionalism, honesty, Integrity. Back to Duty

K10: How to create, verify and record customer information securely using an organisations IT system. Back to Duty

Skills

S1: Correctly identify the customer and/or any customer advocate by applying regulations and organisational procedures. Identifies the likely impact of vulnerabilities on the customers ability to manage their finances and general well-being. Back to Duty

S2: Creates a realistic financial statement and budget for the customer by asking open and closed questions needed to illicit the full facts, including a root-cause analysis. (This will often be in sensitive or difficult circumstances for the customer). Back to Duty

S3: Represent payment offers and customer circumstances to creditors, adjusting the approach to help ensure the best outcome. Actively influences changes in customer behaviour that is in the customers own best-interests, such as adopting life-style changes that will reduce outgoings. Back to Duty

S4: Identifies external stakeholders relevant to the customer. Creates and maintains a network of stakeholders needed to expedite casework effectively and to conclusion. Back to Duty

S5: Recognises their own value within the team and the impact of their actions on others working in it. Collaborates and supports colleagues internally and stakeholders externally to achieve results whilst also being able to work independently. Builds and maintains positive relationships within their own organisation. Back to Duty

S6: Applies organisational quality standards in order to deliver effective outcomes within the risk, regulatory and governance requirements. Plans and prioritises activity accordingly to effectively manage competing work demands. Back to Duty

S7: Adapts the advice provided taking account of the customers history, including for instance previous advice given and whether this was heeded. Considers both their analysis of the evidence and application of the Regulatory Framework to what is most likely to work well, tailored to the individual customer. Recommends a product, combination of products, or sign-points the Customer to other assistance as appropriate. Articulates to customers who do not wish to proceed with the given recommendation (some of whom may be insistent) why the debt solution recommended is the most appropriate. Take account of the customers own preferences, the term of debt relief and future changes to determine whether alternative solutions are appropriate. Back to Duty

S8: Communicates effectively with customers, colleagues, professional contacts and third parties using written and verbal communication. Offers a clear and full explanation. Uses suitable empathy with the customer to enable a positive outcome. Back to Duty

S9: Recognise, monitor and respond to debt advice events (such as change in circumstances) that will trigger a new or updated assessment. Back to Duty

Behaviours

B1: Displays honesty & integrity in actions and approach to work and customers. Is ethical and non-judgmental and demonstrates the principle of utmost good faith. E.g. acts honestly when dealing with customer queries, ensuring they are treated fairly whilst upholding brand values. Back to Duty

B2: Empathetic and un-bias approach to supporting customers. Show the necessary resilience and stand by difficult decisions. Back to Duty

B3: Takes responsibility for their own continuous professional development, and actively records development in their current role. Back to Duty

B4: Both hears and listens actively to what the customer has to say. Has a probing, inquisitive approach to questioning. Provides assuring responses to help engage the customer where needed. Back to Duty

B5: Supports the customer to make their own informed financial and lifestyle decisions. Takes ownership for the customer journey to an appropriate conclusion. Back to Duty

B6: Strives to resolve customer concerns at the earliest opportunity. Receives and handles objections in a calm, professional manner. Back to Duty


Qualifications

English & Maths

Apprentices without level 2 English and maths will need to achieve this level prior to taking the End-Point Assessment. For those with an education, health and care plan or a legacy statement, the apprenticeship’s English and maths minimum requirement is Entry Level 3. A British Sign Language (BSL) qualification is an alternative to the English qualification for those whose primary language is BSL.


Additional details

Occupational Level:

3

Duration (months):

18

Review

This apprenticeship standard will be reviewed after three years

Status: Approved for delivery
Level: 3
Reference: ST0766
Version: 1.0
Approved for delivery: 2 April 2020
Route: Legal, finance and accounting
Typical duration to gateway: 18 months (this does not include EPA period)
Maximum funding: £6000
Trailblazer contact(s): Sebrina.McCullough@thinkmoneygroup.com
Employers involved in creating the standard: Think Money, Gregory Pennington, Money Plus Group, Step Change, Christians Against Poverty, Citizens Advice, Money & Pensions Service, Pay Plan, In Control Debt Solutions, Lowell Group, Moorcroft, Money Advice Trust
LARS Code: 552

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