Is Consumer Credit Counseling Becoming Less Relevant?

I could not help but notice the number of new financial initiatives that seem to just disregard Consumer Credit Counseling as we know it with groups like the National Foundation for Consumer Credit.

Could it be true that out in the wider world the NFCC and its members have just lost their luster?

Here is what prompted my question over this.

Last year the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) launched a new financial coaching initiative to help people deal with their financial issues and to become more successful. The initiative was announced last year and seemed tailor made targeted to the mission of nonprofit consumer credit counseling agencies. The goal was to “provide financial coaching services at critical points in consumers’ lives as they move along the path to financial stability. Isn’t that exactly what credit counselors say they do?

So flash forward a year and I don’t know if NFCC took a swing at this one, but they didn’t win. Instead the CFPB went with Armed Forces Services Corporation. And now the Armed Forces Services Corporation is looking for local agencies to partner with.

And even those groups that apply to be partners don’t need to be NFCC members of credit counseling agencies. It seems the luster of nonprofit credit counseling expertise is, well, worthless to some.

All an entity needs to do to be considered for this CFPB opportunity to score brownie points is “To be a good fit to host a financial coach, a potential organization must, at a minimum, be focused on economically vulnerable consumers, have the capacity to integrate a financial coach, provide an environment conducive to effective coaching, and serve consumers of the targeted geographic areas.” Seems like a perfect match.

You don’t even need to be a nonprofit.

So maybe that’s a one-off thing.

Today I read the new Farm Services Administration information about the Farm Loan Pilot Project. This project calls for credit counseling to be given, but guess what, not by NFCC. Nope, instead it will be delivered by the Farm Service Agency. “FSA also provides direct loan customers with credit counseling and supervision to enhance their opportunity for success.” – Source

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Is Consumer Credit Counseling just becoming so irrelevant that public entities are not even considering using the services of experienced agencies? Or is it that credit counselors are not interested in counseling rather than DMP enrollment?

What do you think?


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