Prior to COVID 19, there was already a push by financial institutions to transform their application processes from an “in-person” process to an online platform procedure offering a more convenient process to consumers. However, as a result of COVID 19 and the implementation of lockdowns and various restrictions regarding the movement of persons, out of necessity, that push by financial institutions became a catapult into the realm of online applications and approvals within the credit industry. Many of us who are accustom to the traditional process may feel a bit hesitant in transitioning into this new forum. To assist and continue to make credit work for you! here are a few tips to help guide you.
Conduct your research and make inquiries With the transition to an online process, most of the information about the various financial products and loans are available at your fingertips online. Therefore, rather than undergoing the time-consuming effort of visiting various institutions to make queries in determining which option is best for you, you can review the information from the various websites to obtain a preliminary view of the financial products being offered. By researching online, you may also avoid credit checks being conducted through the in-person visits to the financial institutions as agents will usually seek to obtain a preliminary review of the consumer to be able to better advise or answer their queries. This will result in credit checks appearing on your credit report which may raise an alarm to future creditors.
The online platform may also provide more information such as customer service reviews which may not have been otherwise readily available to you. However, despite the fact that some information would be online, always try to confirm such details or ask questions through a direct call or email to the financial institution or using one of the online chat agents, if available. Remember, most websites may have a disclaimer regarding the accuracy of the information posted, its dependency on certain terms and conditions or the liability for it to change. Therefore, before acting upon the information always seek confirmation as to its accuracy and its applicability at the present moment and your particular circumstances. Also, try to obtain an estimation of the timeframes for the online application process and the manner of finding out whether it was successful. Do you have to log back into the system, will an email be sent, will you get a call to confirm such?
Check your credit report Not only should you research the financial product and institution but also research you. Review your eligibility like how you believe the financial institution would. The review will usually involve your credit report. You can request a credit report. Remember you are entitled to at least one free credit report a year. By having a report before applying you can see whether there is any inaccurate information provided on the report that would need rectifying prior to submitting your application or whether you have to prepare yourself to answer any questions regarding your credit ratings. To improve your chances of success for the application, a credit report can also highlight whether you have any accounts with small balances to clear off to improve your debt to income ration or whether you should bring any accounts that may have been in arrears current.
Make sure the information provided is Accurate and Complete First, some applications have required fields that failure to insert information will result in the inability to proceed with the application process. However, even where the field is not a required field, an omission of any particulars may delay or halt the approval process. Therefore, it is also best to complete the application in its entirety. Further, in this age of strict compliance and due diligence requirements within the financial sector, the information provided would be verified. Ensure that the most accurate information is therefore provided. Usually, a more informal approach is taken to things done online where nicknames are used or things are conducted on a first-name basis. However, an online application process is still a formal process. Ensure that your full legal name is submitted, ensure there are no mistakes in name, address, contact numbers or email address etc.
Having Supporting Documentation Have all of the information you may typically require for an in-person application process such as bank statements, salary slips, personal identification cards and driver’s licence etc. Even though it is online, the qualifying criteria will still follow the standard traditional process.
Have your e-signature ready or other electronic tools Remember, there will most likely be the standard requirements for signatures on online applications, there may be a need ahead of time to figure whether an e-signature can be applied or whether you may have to print and scan your signature. Your supporting documentation may also have to be scanned and uploaded as well.
The month of April is used to celebrate and promote financial literacy and the development of financial skills to effective aid with financial planning, management of personal finances and the navigation of financial concepts in the financial sector. When individuals are equipped with such skills and knowledge, they are likely to be fiscally responsible and financially stable which results in economic growth for societies.
We all operate and interact with the financial sector in some form or fashion, therefore financial literacy is not simply for those who work within that sector. It is therefore recommended that greater emphasis by placed on ensuring the education system adopt a policy to promote financial literacy within the curriculum of the schools starting from the primary level. With such programs in place, the next generation would be empowered to advance financially. However, financial literacy should not be left to the education system, as steps can be taken to promote financial literacy at home within the family such as engaging everyone about spending and budgeting as well as financial planning for the future. If financial literacy is not adequately promoted in school or within the family, there are simple steps that can be taken to develop or increase your financial literacy.
• Read a book or journal on financial topics Use the public library or make use of the many free resources online to aid, to develop or enhance your financial literacy and awareness. Take on the challenge of learning and therefore make notes as you go along and seek to apply such knowledge by developing your plans and goals with each chapter or each principle.
• Listen to a podcast on the area If you do not like to read or may find it difficult to dedicate the time, maybe a podcast would serve as a better tool for developing your financial literacy. A podcast also allows you to listen and intake information while also performing other mundane tasks within the household like washing dishes and therefore for those who have hectic schedules, this can serve as a useful method of learning.
• Subscribe to a financial blog, website or social media pages Sometimes, reading an entire book could be overwhelming and it may be better to get information in segments, therefore subscribing to a blog or website may prove to be a better method to retain information or seeking guidance and also keep you on track for continuous learning.
• Have discussions Within your network, there may be someone who has had to deal or is engaging with a particular financial transaction and aspect and therefore from their experience they may have developed and gained a better knowledge or understanding as a result. Do not be afraid to reach out, ask for advice or make queries to find out information.
• Use Financial Management Tools For those technologically savvy, the use of apps can also provide advice and guidance for managing your finances as well as aid with organisation and accountability.
• Attend a seminar or enroll in a course Those who have developed a certain level of financial literacy but wish to be more serious and enhance their knowledge may consider taking this step to receive further exposure into new concepts. They can also build connections with experts or those who are similarly seeking to increase their financial literacy to help along the journey to financial wellness.
• Ask Questions, Collect Brochures As we all interact with the financial world, we also come into contact with experts when we are conducting various transactions. Take this opportunity to find out more information about the particular transaction you are engaging in. Ask questions or for clarification on areas you are unsure about.
It is often recommended that a part of financial literacy or beginning a journey to financial wellness also include an assessment of your credit report. A credit report will provide an overview of your credit history and is the means by which most institutions evaluate your requests for extension to credit. You can visit our page main website www.ccbl.info.tt/ to determine how you can obtain your credit report for review.