On July 30 and 31, 2009, the Payment Cards Center hosted a conference, "The Future of Consumer Credit Counseling." The conference brought together a variety of stakeholders to discuss the evolution of the credit counseling industry, its role in the U.S. consumer credit market, and the opportunities and impediments to offering consumers more effective counseling, financial education, and workout products as viable alternatives to bankruptcy.
Payment Cards Center Visiting Scholar and keynote speaker for the conference, Michael Staten, Director, Take Charge America Institute, University of Arizona, addresses the audience.
Conference discussions centered on the challenges faced by the credit counseling industry, including the impact of the economic recession on the demand for counseling agency resources and the condition of consumers, declining budgetary resources, competition from the emergence of debt settlement companies, and proposed changes to state and federal regulations.
Conference speakers also presented the results of research studying the value of credit counseling and financial education. There was a consensus that more careful assessments of the effects of credit counseling services and debt workout products are essential. Developing a better understanding of consumer choices about incurring and repaying debt and the long-run impact of those decisions will be central to designing improved counseling treatments and workout products.
A summary of the conference is forthcoming.