“Debt relief is an important issue to Rabobank. A huge number of people in the Netherlands have financial problems, and experience has shown that it’s difficult to escape from that situation. Geldfit is a great initiative that allows us to refer clients to debt relief services before things get out of hand. And those debt relief services can then explain how important it is to keep in contact with the bank. I’m involved in the project on behalf of Rabobank. We refer people to Geldfit from our own website Rabobank.nl, and in the future we aim to reach an even larger group of clients by informing those with a negative balance on their account about Geldfit.”

Daniëlle van den Akker, Rabobank Financial Self-Reliance Project Manager

Geldfit 

What’s better than helping people get out of debt? Preventing them from getting into financial difficulties in the first place. Geldfit makes people aware of their threatening financial situation, and gets them to act before it’s too late.

the effort to create Geldfit, which advises people about their financial issues. Geldfit uses a simple, user-friendly website. By answering five easy questions, people can get custom-tailored advice on how to get their debts under control. Geldfit has since been transferred to Schuldhulpmaatje, and in order to reach the right target group, Geldfit uses a tried-and-true method developed by the debt relief organization. “We can see which postal codes have a relatively larger number of people with financial problems”, says Nathalie Eilander from Schuldhulpmaatje. “By combining that data with marketing profiles, we can focus on which people to approach.”

Signal from the health insurer
Geldfit works together with companies that provide the services that represent people’s fixed expenses. “Think of banks, health insurers, and energy companies”, says Nathalie. “If someone doesn’t pay their monthly health insurance premium, that may be an indication that they’re having a problem. The insurer then sends us a notification, and we approach the person to ask them to fill in the questionnaire.”

Involved in the details  
Rabo Foundation supported the Geldfit pilot with a donation in 2017, and in 2018 the organization received a contribution to actually get started. The goal is to have Geldfit stand on its own two feet as quickly as possible. “In addition to providing financing, Rabo Foundation is also actively involved in the details of the project”, says Nathalie. “For example, the bank assigned someone to devote some of their time to Geldfit, and the Rabo Foundation network is immensely important. Bank employees help out with their knowledge and advice.

Rabo Foundation also arranges contacts with other debt relief organizations, like Buddy Payment. And the introduction that Rabo Foundation made to the Dutch Banking Association was essential, because now other banks are participating as well.”

National coverage
Geldfit has big ambitions. “We want to expand the number of municipalities and companies involved”, says Nathalie. “In 2018, only a few cities were active, but we’re aiming for national coverage. We also want more companies than just health insurers and energy providers to participate. And to prevent our efforts from becoming fragmented, we’re looking for partnerships with other debt relief organizations. Only then can we reach and assist the group of around 800,000 people whose debt problems are starting to get out of control.”

Clicking away
During the start-up phase in 2018, Geldfit already saw where the future challenges lay. “The main challenge is to ‘trigger’ the visitors to act. The fact that someone can fill in the questionnaire anonymously has some disadvantages as well. If the person doesn’t feel a sense of urgency, then they can just click away. So right now we’re trying out different ways to keep people on the site.”

Geldfit has noticed that it can sometimes be difficult to get municipal governments involved and to keep them involved. “We have to deal with the dynamics of municipal politics, like an alderman who resigns in the middle of a term, or local elections. Things like that can affect the collaboration that is essential for Geldfit’s success.”

In 2016, Rabo Foundation took the initiative to come up with a way to identify and deal with debts before they get out of hand. Other organizations, including Achmea, Nibud, Humanitas and Schuldhulpmaatje, joined in

The Netherlands / Financial Self-Reliance

Geldfit makes people aware

and gets them to act before it’s too late