01 Dec 2023 | Posted In Money advice news

A new report by the Personal Finance Research Centre entitled ‘Joined up: supporting debt advice clients through strong referral partnerships’, presents new evidence about debt advice referrals. It aims to stimulate discussion about how to ensure referrals work well for debt advice clients across a complex ecosystem.

The report contains analysis of StepChange debt advice data and interviews with StepChange team members including debt advisors, and others. The key findings of the report include:

  •  Most StepChange clients have experienced some sort of referral to another organisation. Three in five (59%) clients have either been inwardly referred to the charity from another organisation or were subsequently referred outwards following their advice session.
  •  Many clients are often referred to multiple different organisations. Of those who were referred by StepChange to another organisation during debt advice, over a quarter (28%) were signposted or referred to three or more different organisations.
  •  Most referrals from StepChange to other organisations were to mental health support, income maximisation or benefits help, abuse related support, and bereavement support.

While there is no single ‘correct’ way to make referrals, the report finds there are a number of key elements for advice agencies and advisors to consider. These are about ensuring that:

    1. Clients’ referral needs are identified in the first place
    2. Clients understand where they are being referred and why
    3. Clients are referred at the right time for them
    4. Referrals are smooth and effective
    5. Clients are referred to relevant organisations
    6. Feedback loops are used to improve referrals

Read more here.