Partnership Orientation

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1 Partnership Orientation BALANCE is a comprehensive financial education and counseling service. We partner with financial institutions, employers and other organizations nationwide to support their goals: Strengthening relationships with account holders Providing financial education Helping individuals and families in crisis Reducing losses Helping those you serve reach their financial goals Serving the underserved Those you serve view you as a trusted source of information and guidance. Make it easy for those in need to ask for help by referring them to BALANCE for financial advice. There is no fee to your account holders, so they can address their financial issues without concern for price. Our counselors will help them establish financial control, get out of debt, and attain their goals resulting in fewer losses for your organization and increased business opportunities as account holders become prepared to save, invest, or purchase a home. 595 Market Street, 16th Floor San Francisco, CA

2 BALANCE Client Services Toll-free InfoLine We provide immediate telephone access to counselors so callers can get answers to a wide variety of money management, personal finance and credit-related questions - in English, Spanish and a variety of other languages. Just a few of the topics our counselors can discuss: Home buying Money management Buying or leasing a car Debt repayment strategies Handling a job loss or other financial crisis Credit reports and credit scoring Savings plan options Calls typically last from 5 to 30 minutes, depending on the client s concern and the level of assistance they need. However, clients can talk to a counselor for as little or as much time as they need. Most callers receive additional educational materials through the mail, via , or by viewing and downloading information from our website. Some InfoLine callers will be referred to another service with BALANCE, such as credit report review, money management counseling, or housing counseling. Credit Report Review In a credit report review counseling session, we review the content of the caller s credit report and provide education about credit scoring, maintaining or improving the report, correcting inaccuracies, and identity theft. Almost everyone can benefit from education about credit reports and credit scores. Account holders who can especially benefit include: Those who have been denied for a loan Those preparing to apply for a loan Those using credit for the first time Those with inaccurate information on their credit report Those struggling with fraud or identity theft We conducted a study of BALANCE clients who received credit report education and counseling to determine the impact on their credit scores one year later. Two-thirds of the participants improved their credit scores by an average of 36 points. As our counselors will explain, families and individuals you serve have several options for accessing their credit reports: A free report from the credit bureau in cases of loan denial Free reports from the Annual Credit Report Request Service, Fee-based reports from the credit bureaus Fee-based reports from BALANCE 2

3 Money Management Counseling We offer pre-scheduled telephone counseling appointments throughout the day and evening, weekdays and weekends. Each session lasts about an hour and can be conducted in English, Spanish and other languages. The counselor will work with the caller to determine and address specific needs, including: Money management Goal setting Budgeting Savings plans Debt repayment Bankruptcy prevention Home purchase Avoiding foreclosure Each 60-minute session is action-oriented and there is no limit to the number of sessions callers may have. A counselor will outline the options, choices, rights and responsibilities discussed during the session, so callers have a clear understanding of next steps at the end of the call. All our counselors are certified consumer credit counselors completing not just a comprehensive in-house training program, but also a series of exams developed in conjunction with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling and Purdue University. Housing Education Program We offer comprehensive pre-purchase education for individuals and families striving to buy their first home. Our counselors develop a detailed action plan including tools for money management, savings, debt repayment, and credit report improvement. For those struggling with mortgage payments, we provide early delinquency intervention counseling to help avoid foreclosure. Our counselors will work closely with callers to determine the best options available for dealing with missed mortgage payments. Debt Management Often, clients we counsel are struggling with debt. Many have high balances and interest rates, pay only the minimum due, and use credit to supplement their income. We explore all of the options available for effective debt repayment: Accelerating payments Increasing income Decreasing expenses Adjusting interest rates Refinancing loans Accessing home equity Debt Management Plan If an individual is having trouble making ends meet, is receiving collection calls or letters, or is not able to make progress in repaying debt, a Debt Management Plan may be a good option. Through this plan, we consolidate debts and request concessions from creditors including lowering payments, re-aging accounts, and reducing or eliminating interest and fees. The plan enables consumers to repay their unsecured debt in three to five years. Nationwide Referral Database It s not unusual for some callers to require services outside the scope of what we provide. To meet these needs, we have developed an extensive national database of referral sources. We never refer to any specific for-profit organization; the database is strictly comprised of social service, consumer assistance, and other non-profit community service organizations. 3

4 Online Education Our online tools give the individuals and families you serve access to financial education and budgeting guidance without them having to ask anyone for help. These resources are especially helpful for those who are hesitant to pick up the phone or just need information immediately on a specific topic. There is an array of web resources to choose from including: BalanceTrack BalanceTrack is a series of education modules designed to help consumers navigate all the elements of personal finance. Each module includes five chapters of easily absorbed content and a quiz. Many also include a podcast of the content for users who learn best by listening. Because we share the quiz results with you, partners often use the program for consumer education, staff training, or as a requirement of special loan or savings programs. MyBalance MyBalance is an easy-to-use tool for creating a comprehensive money management plan. Through step-by-step guidance, users create an accurate and realistic spending plan that gives them a clear picture of where their money is going and helps them determine what changes will improve cash flow. MyBalance also helps consumers put their debt in perspective and create a plan for becoming debt free. Upon completion, users may submit their information to BALANCE for a counseling session, or opt to inform you that they ve completed a money management plan as part of a requirement you ve set for certain products or services. InBalance An online checking account management education program, InBalance helps account holders struggling with courtesy pay overuse to develop the tools to successfully manage their account. Financial Education Our education site has a library of educational tools for mastering personal finances. From publications to mini-sites and podcasts, all the in-depth information needed on personal finances is a click away for the community you serve. The calculators section, a particularly popular part of the site that our partners often link to, gives people the figures they need to make informed decisions. Our monthly e-newsletter, Quick Tips, and quarterly web newsletter, Dollars and Sense, provide timely advice you can share with your audience. As a partner you can link to these resources from your website. 4

5 A BALANCE Partnership Supports Your Goals Point of Denial Loan denial is a delicate process. Those with credit challenges may not see any way to resolve their financial needs other than through a loan - and if they can t get it from you, they may instead get it from a sub-prime or predatory lender, aggravating the situation and potentially putting other accounts at risk. Offering counseling at the point of loan denial is a positive alternative that provides effective options for resolving the problem. Bankruptcy Prevention Surprise bankruptcies individuals filing while current with their accounts continue to plague the industry. Providing counseling and education to all helps even those borrowers you have yet to recognize as a risk. Collections Support Borrowers falling delinquent on accounts are high-risk for charge-off and bankruptcy. Offering counseling focusing on repayment options helps them get back on track. Community Outreach In today s competitive marketplace, providing financial education differentiates your organization from other financial institutions. Whether you re targeting new employer groups or providing education to meet CRA requirements, providing tools to help develop personal financial control sends a message of your commitment to supporting success. The added value of the education and counseling provided through a BALANCE partnership opens the doors of new employer groups as well as increases opportunities for employee exposure at existing employer groups. Primary Financial Institution Most financial institutions strive to be their account holders primary financial institution. Financial counseling brings those on the borderline into the financial mainstream, enabling them to take advantage of the products and services you offer. As those you serve become ready to purchase homes and cars or invest for the future, we refer them back to you for the services they need. Staff Support BALANCE counselors will support you in your role at your organization. A referral to BALANCE frees up your time to reach your departmental and organizational goals while still ensuring continued individual assistance. Partnership Support Tools We ve compiled marketing, education, implementation and outreach tools for our partners to maximize usage of our program and support your institution s goals. Log on to to view these tools. 5

6 Financial Education and Counseling Make a Difference We surveyed clients 18 to 36 months after counseling them, with the goal of determining the long-term impact of counseling and education on their financial lives. We asked in the survey what, if any, significant financial changes have taken place since the time of the counseling session: 40% purchased or refinanced a home 21% purchased, refinanced or leased an automobile 72% significantly reduced their debt 40% began or increased a savings or investment plan Families and individuals who receive financial education and counseling are likely to buy a home or new car or invest money in the near future. We not only prepare consumers for these decisions, but refer them to you for the financing or investment product they need. BALANCE Referrals Just about anyone can benefit from financial counseling and education, from borrowers in crisis to those needing just a little guidance in reaching their goals. Do you know an account holder who Has an account in collections? Was declined for a loan? Wants to buy a first home? Is regularly using payday loans? Has excessive NSF activity? Is struggling to keep afloat after a layoff? Has questions about credit reports and scores? Needs help with checkbook balancing? Is trying to get a new car? Is going through a life change divorce, marriage, starting a family? Wants to start saving for the future? Is considering bankruptcy? If you know someone in any of these situations, you know someone who can benefit from counseling and education. Making a Referral A referral for further financial assistance will be more meaningful when it comes from you, particularly when so many people don t know where to turn for help. By explaining that BALANCE services are available as a no-cost benefit of being an account holder because of your commitment to helping individuals achieve financial success, you are not only helping your account holders, but strengthening your relationships. 6

7 Common Scenarios There are many circumstances in which you might refer someone to BALANCE. These common scenarios are examples of ways to effectively explain how BALANCE can help your borrowers achieve financial success. Declined for a loan: 1. Discuss the loan denial and inform the account holder of their right to a free credit report. 2. Provide a BALANCE brochure or the phone number, explaining that it is a free, confidential financial education service and a benefit of being an account holder. 3. Explain that BALANCE counselors will: Review the credit report Develop a plan to improve the credit score Explain how to handle inaccuracies Help them improve their credit rating so they can be approved in the future Major life change (divorce, job loss): 1. Provide a BALANCE brochure or the phone number, explaining that it is a free, confidential financial education service and a benefit of being an account holder. 2. Explain that BALANCE counselors will: Help with developing a money management plan Review all the expenses and help determine priorities Explain the options available for getting through a difficult time with minimal credit damage Develop a plan of action for short-term financial crisis and long-term recovery Provide resources for additional assistance as needed New account holders: 1. Provide the individual a BALANCE brochure or the phone number, explaining that it is a free, confidential financial education service and a benefit of being an account holder. 2. Explain that BALANCE counselors will: Explain and answer questions about credit reports Help create a money management and savings plan Answer a wide variety of financial and credit-related questions Help them to prepare for significant purchases such as a home or car Accounts in collections: 1. Provide the individual a BALANCE brochure or the phone number, explaining that it is a free, confidential financial education service and a benefit of being an account holder. 2. Explain that BALANCE counselors will: Help them develop a money management plan and establish financial priorities Set up a plan of action to help them get current with all their creditors and reduce their debt Address the impact of late payments on the credit score Explain the options available for managing their debt potentially including a Debt Management Plan Preparing for homeownership: 1. Provide the individual a BALANCE brochure or the phone number, explaining that it is a free, confidential financial education service and a benefit of being an account holder. 2. Explain that BALANCE counselors will: Review their budget to ensure they can handle the cost of homeownership Work with them to develop a savings plan for down payment and closing costs Review their credit report and score and determine a plan for improvement if necessary 7

8 Service Hours Notes Time Zone Monday-Thursday Friday Saturday Alaska 4am 7pm 4am 4pm 7am 4pm Pacific 5am 8pm 5am 5pm 8am 5pm Mountain 6am 9pm 6am 6pm 9am 6pm Central 7am 10pm 7am 7pm 10am 7pm Eastern 8am 11pm 8am 8pm 11am 8pm Test Drive BALANCE Call and describe your concern to a BALANCE counselor. You can use a typical question the families you serve might have, or one of the following common scenarios: I m having trouble paying my bills. What are my options? How can I design a budget? I just received a notice that my wages will be garnished. What can I do? How can I get a copy of my credit report? I want to buy a home in the next few years. How can I prepare for that? I am getting a divorce. Who is responsible for bills and how will this affect my credit? At the end of the conversation, feel free to identify yourself as a test caller and provide feedback or, if you prefer, remain anonymous. Call BALANCE toll-free BALANCE REV0314 8

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