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Consumer Affairs
Sunday, July 1, 2007
Potential risks

“Training and education may be the best defence against contravention of the National Credit Act (NCA).” This is the view of Nikki Wouterse, CEO of ICG Learning Solutions, the division of Educor focusing on corporate training in conjunction with Intec College.

“The financial losses which a business could face as a result of non-compliance are huge and business leaders need to ensure that staff across the spectrum are aware of implications and guidelines set out in the Act,” she says.
The NCA aims to protect the consumer by prohibiting reckless credit practices, promoting responsible credit granting and enforcing a non-discriminatory, fair and standardised credit industry in South Africa.
Specified in the Act is that from 1st June 2007, companies must ensure that employees have the appropriate knowledge and competence - or a plan to acquire this. In particular, employees that should be trained include all those who initiate credit and approve agreements including call centre agents, front line sales staff, third party brokers and credit office employees.
There are many industry sectors affected by the NCA including banks, micro lenders, retailers, government financial aid schemes, hire purchase companies, financial services companies, insurance companies and mortgage originators.
“While many of the larger corporates have already begun training, a recent national survey highlighted that some companies are not yet aware of the full implications of the NCA on their businesses,” she says.
“The implications of not complying are significant, including being deregistered as a credit provider, having transactions terminated if they do not comply with regulation and fines of up to R1 million.
“There have been too many cases in the media recently of directors being held responsible for company fraud and inadequate corporate governance for management not to take the possible consequences of the NCA extremely seriously.”
Apart from the requirement to ensure that staff are knowledgeable, The Intec College workshop guides companies through the obligations of the credit provider. To name just a few, these include the likes of registering with the NCR, showing no discrimination in how credit agreements are implemented, providing good reasons why credit may not be given (or limits not increased), providing credit information in any official language in an easy-to-understand manner, fully disclosing interest rates and credit costs on advertising material, remaining within the interest rates and other costs prescribed by Act/Minister, and refraining from credit offers on the basis that agreements will automatically be enforced unless consumer declines an offer.
The Intec College workshop is a one-day course, aimed at cost-effectively giving employees the knowledge to guide their activities, in line with what is allowed by law.
Courses are fully-facilitated and interactive and can be run at corporate training venues, or client venues in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein and Polokwane. All learners will receive a certificate and relevant reference material.
Intec College will also run special courses to train debt counsellors. This is crucial to the successful implementation of the NCA, as there are currently not enough fully-qualified people to refer over-indebted individuals as set out in the Act.
“Our infrastructure and national presence is a substantial advantage, thanks to our backing from Educor and Naspers. The benefits of 100 years of distance learning expertise ensures that we can facilitate national roll-outs of such training.”
For more information, or to enrol, please call 0860 10 40 14 or visit www.ncaworkshop.co.za. 

Copyright © Insurance Times and Investments® Vol:20.6 1st July, 2007
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