Free financial help from iMali Matters

9 September 2010

Free, face-to-face, personal advice and assistance with anything financial – from debt issues to bank accounts, wills, taxes, car purchases and burial societies – is now available, with no strings attached, from a new venture called iMali Matters.

A joint venture between the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Credit Ombud, FinMark Trust and African Bank, the Money Advice Association – trading as iMali Matters – aims to give South African consumers free, informed advice on money matters across the consumer spectrum.

“Lack of education in financial matters and knowing where to go when things go wrong are just some of the issues that affect many South Africans,” iMali Matters states on its website.

“With approximately 13-million unbanked or incorrectly banked South Africans, there is a great need to assist people in gaining knowledge to make the correct choices about their money.”

Three pilot advice centres have recently opened – in Wynberg, Cape Town, in central Durban, and in Germiston.

Each centre, according to The Star, is staffed by two expert counsellors “who will not only deal with individual cases, but [also] conduct free workshops and lectures on topics most needed in their areas”.

Each centre will also be equipped to provide a phone-in service to complement the walk-in service.

Imali Matters offers advice on specific needs, such as savings, signing contracts, taking insurance, inheritance, budgeting, financial products, getting the best deal, understanding account statements (including interest and charges), and understanding credit bureaus and reports.

Members of the public can also visit iMali Matters for redress on issues such as defaults, legal action, over-indebtedness, emolument attachment orders, overcharging, defective products, harmful business practices and unlawful contracts.

Visits will, “unless countered by the consumer, include a needs analysis of the consumer’s financial health … with specific and general guidance,” iMali Matters states on its website.

The advice offered, Credit Ombud Manie van Schalkwyk told The Star, “will be unbiased, not based on any brand or institution, and will not result in a sale. We have our own brand – iMali Matters – and will not be linked to any commercial venture.”

The pilot project, according to the Money Advice Association, will test the feasibility of offering money advice to low-income people in South Africa, working in urban areas to begin with. Funding for the pilot project is being provided by the Financial Education Fund and African Bank.

SAinfo reporter

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