If your personal or business financial plan is in disarray as a result of South Africa's lockdown measures, the payment relief plan for Absa clients will provide an effective short-term solution.
During the lockdown many of us will likely be fretting somewhat about personal finances. You might be weighing your options about how to take back control of a maxed credit card for example, how to meet a car repayment, or the most worrying, seriously concerned about how you will pay your bond. These are worries that extend beyond lockdown especially if even one member of a household's job or income is threatened.
In light of the coronavirus and its impacts, and compounded by the amount of news and data that we have to process, stress levels are elevated and being prepared for a different financial future is yet another aspect that may add to feeling overwhelmed. And when we are overwhelmed, we freeze ... that's just the way we are wired.
Survival and your financial plans
But if you kick into your survival instinct, also something we are wired to tap into, and use the remaining days of lockdown to develop a revised financial plan, and to engage - albeit through technology - with the mechanisms that are in place to assist you, solutions will be revealed that will help you to prepare for the future. Many of these tools come from the financial services sector, not least of which are the banks.
Firstly you have to forget what you understand about financial institutions being only concerned with their need to make money for investors. This is not a time for business as usual, nor indeed life as usual, and why Absa has stepped up and created an extensive Covid-19 Payment Relief Programme.
Absa responds to lockdown impacts
Geoff Lee, Managing Executive at Absa Home Loans says that any relief programmes in the market cannot be as simple as providing separate solutions for different debt burdens: "There has to be a cohesive strategy so that the relief offered is broad-based. If an individual or a business owner has to break down all their financial obligations and try to find solutions to each, it is likely going to be time-consuming and potentially soul-destroying.
"Absa's Payment Relief Programme is for all our credit products, including home loans, vehicle finance, personal loans and credit cards, commercial asset finance, and mortgage-backed business loans. However, the Programme has been structured to build on what we have always recognised; that there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
"Since we were made aware of the Covid-19 national lockdown, we engaged with all the differing aspects of our client base, from individuals through to corporate, wealth, business bank, private bank and retail customers, to ensure that the relief package we present would be effective and have real value, yet still remain within the parameters of banking regulations."
How the programme works
At the very foundation of the relief programme is that there will be no administration fees, and relief measures can be implemented immediately for a period of three months. In addition, if your home owners insurance is with Absa and you pay it as part of your home loan instalment, these premiums will also be deferred and the cover will remain in place. Monthly service fees will be deferred as well.
Business and corporates are urged to contact their relationship managers, whereby a bespoke solution can be discussed depending on unique requirements and operations. Qualifying individual customers will be approached directly by an Absa professional to discuss whether or not they want to opt into the relief scheme, or they can email for more information.
"It may be that this is a short-term solution," says Lee, "but it will provide some breathing room in this time of uncertainty. The provision of this payment relief plan for Absa credit products is testament to our commitment to finding real, customer-focused solutions, and in getting closer to our customers when they need it the most," says Lee.
There is no doubt that the majority of South Africans are considering how to stretch and rework budgets to emerge from the lockdown without increasing their debt burden. What is crucial however, is to act now and not to panic. Plan ahead as best you can but do not bury your head in the sand.
There may be some comfort to be had in knowing that all markets, global and local, financial and non-financial, are in a similar slump, and that as the lockdown progresses, everyone's focus will start to shift from shock, to planning for recovery and implementing such plans.
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