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Q&A with Randolph Taylor, Senior Counsellor and Financial Coach at Credit Canada
The AFC has partnered with Credit Canada, a non-profit agency, to provide entertainment professionals access to financial counselling and coaching, as well as Credit Canada’s Debt Management Program.
We spoke with Randolph Taylor, an accredited financial counsellor who has worked at Credit Canada for 15 years, about the services that the organization provides. This interview has been edited and condensed.
The AFC: Can you tell us a bit about your role at Credit Canada?
Taylor: I meet with individuals and families every day to discuss their financial situations, looking at details such as their income, their living expenses and their debt. And it is my job to explain, in my view, what their financial situation looks like, what position they are in to resolve their debt and what options they have to resolve debt they are having difficulties paying.
A career in the entertainment industry comes with unique challenges and risks. What experience does Credit Canada have in helping people in the entertainment industry?
We see many different types of people, from many different walks of life, that have the same struggles that someone that is in the arts industry might have and mainly that struggle is inconsistent income. There could be months where the income is good, with months where there is no income at all. That type of challenge is consistent across many fields.
One of the strategies to deal with inconsistent income is to squirrel away some funds when the income is high for when income is low. It seems pretty obvious, but it’s easier said than done. Credit Canada can help people identify specific strategies in order to be able to do that.
What would you say to someone who feels they will never be financially stable since they just don’t make enough money?
A lot of people have said to me over the years that they just don’t make enough and it’s difficult to budget when you have no money to work with. But even if someone is on social assistance, there is money to work with. It’s just a matter of looking at the financial landscape overall and trying to set up the expenses so that they fit into the realm of what is realistic for the person to do every month. We can always help identify some techniques to help someone live within their means.
Through The AFC’s Financial Wellness Program, entertainment industry workers can access both financial counselling and financial coaching. How are counselling and coaching different?
Financial counselling is more of a reactive step whereas coaching is a proactive step. So for example, whenever someone goes to marriage counselling, there is always an idea there that there is already a problem in place and we need to deal with whatever the problem is. With coaching, it’s more of a proactive step to help people before they find themselves with a problem.
The Financial Coaching Series that we offer here talks about many different areas of finance including money management and budgeting, purchasing property, investments, teaching your kids about money and other different things. It gives you an overall scope into many different areas of finance to help you be proactive instead of reactive in handling your finances every day so you don’t find yourself needing to do a counselling appointment to solve problems that have been created.
Can you tailor Financial Coaching to focus on the topics that you feel would be most useful to you?
Definitely. There are nine different modules and the person has the option to take all nine or just the ones that they feel are most pertinent to their case. I just finished a Financial Coaching series with a doctor and she was sure kids were not in her future, so we took out that part of it. It all depends on what the case is.
Outside of debt, what are the kind of problems that Credit Canada can help with?
Mainly money management and budgeting. I saw a teacher earlier this week and she doesn’t have debt, but she isn’t able to save and is sort of living paycheque to paycheque. She came to us because she has never felt that she is in control of her finances.
One thing I have said in my counselling sessions over the years is that not everyone is born with a frugal budgeting nature. There are some people out there, no matter how you slice the pie, finance is never going to be their forte. So how we can help is by giving people education with money management and budgeting so that they feel better equipped to handle their financial life.
Can you tell me a bit about how the Debt Management Program works?
With the Debt Management Program, we will contact any creditors that a person might owe, we will get the creditors to eliminate or reduce the interest charge on the account, then the person will be on a repayment plan where they will send one monthly payment to Credit Canada and we will then turn around and send the payment to the creditors until the debt has all been paid.
In doing a Debt Management Program, it’s not a situation where we at Credit Canada are paying off all of someone’s debt and then they are paying us back. It’s more of a scenario where the creditor that the person owes is on the left and the consumer is on the right. We come in between the both of them and we turn to the creditors and we say, ‘Hey, right now, you want $800 a month and you are charging 19 per cent interest. Can you eliminate the interest and can you accept a monthly payment of $300 or $400 until the debt has been paid?’ Once the creditor has agreed to this plan then the consumer will send a monthly payment to us, we will then redistribute the payment to the creditor until everything has been paid.
What kind of debt can you do this for?
Really any unsecured debt or debt that doesn’t have collateral against it. So, credit cards, lines of credit, loans.
What are some misconceptions people have about Credit Canada and its services?
One is that it’s only for people with debt. We do help people resolve debt, but we also help a lot of people with money management and budgeting.
Another misconception is that seeing a counsellor here will have an effect on your credit report. That’s simply not true. No one knows that anyone has an appointment here except us and the person who made the appointment.
What can someone expect when they call Credit Canada for the first time?
They can expect us to be respectful, to be polite and for us to take a very non-judgmental view of their financial situation and give some options which they can digest and decide what’s best for them.
The appointments are solutions-based. We are here to discuss the options to get them out of a financial jam, not to judge why they got into that situation.
Thank you, Randolph, for taking the time to speak with The AFC, and Credit Canada for partnering with us to help entertainment industry workers build and maintain financial stability.