François Leblanc works as budget advisor at Entraide Budgétaire, a community organization in Ottawa, Ontario. His role is to help clients who are facing financial difficulties, usually related to debt, late payments or low credit ratings. Together, François and his clients compare the advantages and disadvantages of various options; then, François guides clients so they can make their own informed decisions about which options are best for them, take charge of their financial situation, diminish their stress and move toward healthy personal finances.
He thinks that the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada's tools and publications are very useful. “I am always on the lookout for information and tools that may be out there in the personal finance universe,” says François. “FCAC and the tools it has developed that are available on the Internet, they nicely complement what we already have. It can be inspiring in some cases, providing ideas that may be useful to me in my work with customers.”
François and his team are satisfied when they assist a client in avoiding a financial crisis and help them to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
My name is François Leblanc. I work for a community organization here in Ottawa called Entraide budgétaire, and I have worked there for eight years now.
As a budget counsellor, as the name implies, my role is to meet with people with low incomes who are facing financial difficulties, and who are therefore more susceptible of encountering problems with their finances. These people may have been faced with situations such as the loss of a job, divorce or separation. An untimely death may also create a situation where, “oops!” suddenly, only one person is left to support a family where previously there had been a couple.
The risk is in trying to maintain a certain lifestyle and using credit to compensate for a reduced income. So, if it reaches a point where the burden is very heavy, people will often come to us and say: “What can I do about this? I am not able to pay this back.” The first step is to listen to them, because every person or family will experience the situation differently. Once we have established a list of the different options or solutions available with the client, we look at the pros and cons of each of these options. My role, therefore, is to guide them through this process.
And so, throughout the process I have been able to share information with them, give them advice and increase their knowledge of personal finances. As a counsellor, I am always on the lookout for information and tools that may be out there in the personal finance universe. We are a small community organization, so we generally do not have the means or resources to do research, for example.
So, if we take as an example the FCAC and the tools it has developed that are available on the Internet, they nicely complement what we already have. It can be inspiring in some cases, providing ideas that may be useful to me in my work with customers.
When we can help someone see the light at the end of the tunnel and help them reduce the stress they may feel when they come out of isolation, generally what we see is a great weight lifted from their shoulders, and that alone is often wonderful to see.
For me, controlling money matters means a better quality of life for individuals, couples and families. Therefore, I see myself working in this field for a long time to come. It makes me happy to be there to help people at a time when they need it.