Experiences From The Ground: Sharing by a Counselling and Processing (CNP) Staff
This is my 11th year with Credit Counselling Singapore (CCS).
How it all began.
As I do not recall submitting an application, I was pleasantly surprised to receive an invitation to attend an interview with CCS. I then realised that it was a job agency that had approached CCS on my behalf. Curious, I researched and was moved by the positive testimonials from people who had benefited from the not-for-profit counselling services which CCS is known for.
What I do at CCS
I joined CCS as an Administrative Officer performing general duties. In line with CCS’ goal to provide growth opportunities for staff, I was sent for courses on telephone etiquette and techniques. I was then upgraded to a Customer Service Officer (CSO). On a daily basis, I interact with help-seekers over the phone and attend to walk-in clients. I explain CCS’ help process which involves attending a free virtual or in-person Info Talk on debt management, and thereafter submitting counselling request documents, before making an appointment to attend a one-to-one session with CCS Counsellors. Clients are presented with knowledge on various debt management options so as to make informed decision on how they choose to proceed. Where appropriate, CCS will help work out a repayment proposal for their creditors’ consideration if they meet the required criteria.
As with any customer facing job, I need to learn how to manage challenging situations. As such, I sat in several actual sessions to observe how CCS Counsellors guide help-seekers who are confronting financial issues. Oftentimes, clients are emotionally stressed because they may be facing collection actions from their creditors. They are cash-tight but are pressured to make payment or face more serious legal actions.
Knowing the emotional burden that problem debt places on families, every day counts. So to expedite the process, I guide help-seekers on completing the counselling request form and advise them to come prepared with the required documents so they can fully benefit from the counselling session. For help-seekers who are not computer-savvy or are Mandarin-speaking clients, I help them to register for the Info Talk.
Growing up with CCS
When I joined in 2012, CCS had a staff strength of about 20 and the office was located at Maxwell Road. CCS now has about 50 staff and is located at 51 Cuppage Road, our fifth office location. I was involved in the office relocation exercise twice; from Maxwell Road to Middle Road in 2013 and then to the current office in 2019. I am grateful that CCS Office is easily accessible, so that we can reach and continue to serve our beneficiaries.
I am honoured to be part of the celebrations during CCS’ 10th Anniversary in 2014, wherein Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, the then Minister of Finance, graced the occasion as the Guest of Honour. He also officiated CCS’ launch in October 2004. The other mile-stone event was in 2012 when CCS won the President Charity Award.
I have wonderful memories working in CCS. I enjoy the regular outings and activities which help to strengthen the bonding among staff.
Who am I?
Basically, I am a quiet and reserved person. Working in CCS made me a more “out-going” person and more confident to interact with colleagues. I learnt practical skills and built knowledge over the years at CCS that I apply in daily life. Knowing what could happen to a person who doesn’t manage money matters properly, I endeavour to live within means and save money for “rainy” days.
I also upgraded myself by taking part-time courses. I obtained Higher NITEC at ITE and Diploma in Human Relations Management at the Republic Polytechnic. Thank you, CCS for endorsing my request for flexible working hours so that I can attend classes during weekday evenings.
I enjoy watching comedy shows to unwind. During weekends, I visit my uncle and play with his grandchildren. I always make it a point to have eight hours of sleep every night.
A rewarding career
I would like to share two incidences that gave me lasting impressions. The first was regarding an incoming call I received. The client was fazed by the calls from his creditors which included banks and licensed moneylenders. He was a stage-4 cancer patient in remission. The incessant collection calls could trigger a re-lapse of his illness. Except his wife, he didn’t share his debt issues with his children and his siblings. Whilst undergoing treatment, he shared that he thought of ending his life. Moreover, he had just started a new job and could not take off or leave.
I told him that he made the right decision to call CCS. I scheduled a night counselling session for him after sharing the services provided by CCS, inviting him to CCS office, and guiding him on downloading the documents required to complete the counselling request form. I felt his sense of relief after successful submission of his counselling request package - that CCS may be able to assist him.
The second incident relates to a counselling request I received by post. When going through the documents, I noticed his NRIC number started with “T” instead of “S”. The client was only 21 years old. I wondered what could have happened to cause him to incur indebtedness at such a tender age.
Making sense of debt
Debt is part and parcel of life for many people. Hence, an organisation like CCS plays important in rendering a helping hand to the young and older population to manage their financial issues through counselling, coaching and education.
CCS has many programmes. For example, CCS promotes the prudent application of borrowings through our “Use Credit Wisely” programme. To address Singapore’s population are greying, CCS rolled out a “Cents’ible” Retirement course. As money management are skills that everyone should possess, I am proud to be assist CCS to introduce more programmes to reach out to the underserved community where financial advice is not readily available.
Last, I strongly feel that we should spend within our budgets. Always ask yourself is this your needs or wants. Pay your credit cards bill on time and in full. If you have problem debts that you are unable to, seek help early. You are not alone. CCS is here to help you.
Contributed by David Low, Credit Counselling Singapore.
Published 30 June 2023