Mental Health Awareness Week 2022: How fintech can help and not hinder

Ryan Hayes, COO - Advice Sector, Trustfolio (formerly TIPTrust)
09 May 2022

For those with mental health issues, dealing with personal finances can be a real challenge, making financial difficulty and debt more likely. On the other hand, as Money and Mental Health Policy Institute and others have found, financial difficulty and debt can create mental health issues due to the stress caused.

This is a huge issue and one that the fintech sector has tried to find solutions to. Taking the stress out of paying off debt and making seeking advice less daunting and more convenient with self-service digital platforms has however, in some cases, been more of a hindrance than a help. The theme for Mental Health Awareness Week 2022 is loneliness following the isolation suffered by many during the Covid-19 pandemic and the ‘new normal’ of remote working and communication that this has left us with.

At Trustfolio, we firmly believe that the latest technology has the power to transform the way debt solutions and advice are administered for the ultimate good of the consumer-in-debt. But, as a collective of people with first-hand experience of working across the debt landscape, we know that there is no replacement for human interaction and decision-making in what can be a highly sensitive and emotive transaction. Digital tools are great for those who have the means and ability to use them. But for the digitally excluded and/or those with mental health issues, the removal of the ‘human element’ creates more problems than it does solutions.

That is why our Debt Adviser Support Portal is adviser-led. The ‘online anywhere’ login to gain instant access to client credit reports empowers advisers to efficiently and effectively support those in any circumstances by putting a fuller picture of their finances at their fingertips without the need for clients to fill in or produce lots of paperwork. It is currently successfully used by more than 150 advice agencies including Rethink Mental Health whose advisers are able to help clients with mental health issues more quickly and easily as a result of being able to access their credit information instantly with only their verbal consent.

The Debt Adviser Support Portal is a fintech (or deb-tech as we like to call it) solution that’s designed to save its users time and money by automating and streamlining some processes but, unlike money management and budgeting apps, it doesn’t rely on consumer access and capability. Instead, it has a social purpose to give those supporting financial vulnerable people the tools they need to get the best outcome as quickly as possible.

The Portal is being developed into a full-service income & expenditure tool with features including instant access to online bank statements and automatic referral to insolvency practitioners where suitable coming soon. And suitability is the key. Advisers are trained and experienced in understanding what is and isn’t appropriate for each client. For some, accessing bank statements will only provide part of the picture or not be something the client is comfortable with, for others Open Banking will be transformative in resolving debts more quickly and easily in partnership with a trusted adviser. And when it comes to referring clients for solutions like Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs), this will be adviser-led and based on the clients’ specific circumstances using the data available to ensure it’s the best route.

With debt and mental health so inextricably linked, fintech solutions must be as inclusive and fit-for-purpose as possible if they are to be part of the solution to this huge problem.

Find out more about the Debt Adviser Support Portal and our other ‘debt-tech’ solutions.