Money Adviser or Debt Counsellor

The Job and What's Involved

Cash PileMoney advisers, sometimes known as debt counsellors, help people whose debts have become too large or complex for them to handle. They offer free, impartial, and confidential advice on managing money and coping with debt, and they often also deal with creditors and courts on their clients' behalf.

As a money adviser, you could work with clients face-to-face or on a telephone helpline.

Your work might include:

  • Talking to clients about their money problems and helping them to stay calm.
  • Looking at clients' income and outgoings.
  • Working out a realistic budget.
  • Helping clients to prioritise their debts.
  • Advising about bankruptcy and court proceedings.
  • Checking that creditors are demanding the right amount.
  • Negotiating with creditors to arrange affordable, realistic repayments for the client.
  • Advising about any welfare benefits clients may be eligible for.
  • Representing clients in court.

With experience, you could take on more complex casework, act as an intermediary (apply on someone's behalf) for a debt relief order (DRO) or become involved in social policy work.

In a full-time job you would typically work standard office hours, Monday to Friday, although some jobs may involve evening or Saturday sessions. Part-time work may be available.

You could spend your day speaking to clients in an advice centre or office, or you may visit outreach centres or clients' homes to give advice. You may occasionally need to attend court.

Full-time starting salaries are around £20,000 a year. With more experience and responsibility, earnings can rise to around £28,000 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

The most common way into this career is to volunteer in an advice centre. You would often start with giving general advice, then train in money advice once you have more experience.

Most opportunities are with Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB), advice centres run by local authorities or other voluntary organisations, and Money Advice Units/Money Advice Support Units (MASU). You could also find work with universities, colleges or trade unions.

Jobs are often fixed-term contracts of up to two years, depending on available funding. Vacancies may be advertised in the local and national press and on employer websites. Competition for paid work can be strong.

It usually takes at least a year as a volunteer before you would be considered to have enough experience and knowledge to apply for paid work as a money adviser.

You could also move into money advice work if you have experience in other areas such as:

  • Consumer advice.
  • Welfare rights work.
  • Debt recovery for a bank, council, utility company or similar organisation.

Education and Training

Most employers will not ask for qualifications as your experience would be the most important thing, but you should have a reasonable standard of English and feel comfortable with maths.

For some jobs, it may be an advantage if you speak a minority community language.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Your employer will provide initial training when you start work, and you will also learn on the job from experienced advisers. You would also receive ongoing training throughout your career, to learn more about specific issues and keep up to date with new laws and practice.

As a paid or volunteer adviser with a Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), you would follow their nationally recognised training programme in general advice work, plus specialist training in money advice. Alternatively, you could follow the Money Advice Trust's 'wiseradviser' online training programme.

You may also have the chance to work towards NVQ's at levels 3 and 4 in Advice and Guidance and NVQ's at level 3 and 4 in Legal Advice.

You could also get online and short course training from the Money Advice Trust (MAT), which provides training to its member organisations, and you could join the Institute of Money Advisers (IMA), which offers training days to members on specialist areas of money and debt advice.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A money adviser or debt counsellor needs

  • A genuine desire to help people.
  • The ability to put people at ease and build trust.
  • Good communication skills (in both speech and writing) and listening skills.
  • Good negotiation skills.
  • A non-judgemental and unbiased attitude.
  • Respect for confidentiality.
  • The ability to relate to people from all backgrounds.
  • Confidence with numbers.
  • Good organisational and time management skills.
  • The ability to prioritise your work and meet deadlines.

Your Long Term Prospects

With experience, you could become a specialist caseworker, or be promoted to a team leader or management post.

Get Further Information

Institute of Money Advisers (IMA),
Stringer House, 34 Lupton Street,
Leeds LS10 2QW
Tel: 0845 094 2384

Money Advice Trust (MAT),
21-26 Garlick Hill, London EC4V 2AU
Tel: 020 7489 7796

Advice UK,
6th Floor, 63 St Mary Axe,
London EC3A 8AA
Tel: 020 7469 5700

Citizens Advice

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS)

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