Banks are offering a huge range of support for customers in difficulty, but one adviser says a relatively small percentage of customers have actually needed to take those measures up - and some who did are already in a position to return to full mortgage and insurance payments.
Global Finance founder Ajay Kumar says that once lockdown was announced, his brokerage initiated its BCP within 48 hours, and set about getting in touch with each of its 7000 customers individually - a huge task, but also a unique opportunity to touch base and ensure the team was offering maximum support. He says some customers simply needed clarification on what certain support measures meant, and advice on whether or not they were right for them.
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“We invoked our business continuity plan within 48 hours of knowing about lockdown, and we tried to contact all of our 7000 customers to find out how they were,” Kumar told NZ Adviser.
“About 450 customers told us that they needed advice on how to manage the situation, whether they should take payment holidays, what that’ll mean for them, etc.”
“A lot of people thought a loan holiday meant no payments now, or in the future - but that’s not the understanding of the bank,” he explained. “If you take a loan holiday, you’re still liable to pay interest plus principal payments from that holiday period. So we offered advice to everyone depending on their situation, and all of those 450 customers ended up taking help and were satisfied with it.”
Kumar said that around 90% of Global Finance customers had no issues or worries about their finances, but for the 10% that were in difficulty, banks tended to be “extremely cooperative.” He says working with insurers was a little trickier, but that ultimately solutions could always be found.
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“Whatever requests we made to help our customers, the banks got things done very quickly,” Kumar said.
“That’s directly helped us to strengthen our bond with the customer, because they appreciated that we came to help them in a tough time. We weren’t selling anything, and they really appreciated our services.”
“After lockdown, many of our customers have gone back to full repayments as a result,” he added.
“Insurance can be quite challenging, and some insurers are offering premium holidays but wouldn’t cover you throughout that period. But depending on the quality of the insurance company, we could negotiate a solution for the customers - and the customers were very happy.”