NextStudent Education Finance Advisors Deliver Premier Service in Student Loan Industry

Recently, student loan companies and their representatives have come under fire for questionable business practices ranging from collection methods to marketing efforts. For student loan borrowers, financing their college education and choosing the best lender for their funds often is one of the most important decisions they will face in their college career. Investing considerable time in researching the character, track record and reputation of a lender pays major dividends that immediately may not be evident, according to NextStudent, the Phoenix-based premier education funding company.

One of the prime criteria that borrowers may want to consider in their selection process is the lender’s commitment to customer service, often exemplified in the training required of the company’s phone representatives. At NextStudent, students or their parents are assigned their own personal Education Finance Advisor, or EFA, an individual to guide them from start to finish through the often-confusing landscape of student loans.

NextStudent’s dedication to making student loan funding a simple, easy process through outstanding service, a priority reflected in excellent customer feedback, is no accident. In order to meet these demanding standards, EFAs are required to complete NextStudent’s own rigorous six-month, on-the-job certification process, where they demonstrate mastery in each of four subject areas, including NextStudent’s Student Loan Consolidation, Federal PLUS Loans, Stafford Loans and Private Student Loans.

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What to Expect from Finance Advisors

From time to time, all of us need to get some outside counseling on how to handle our finances in general, or to deal with a particular financial issue that has come up. But where do we go when these situations arise, and how can we evaluate the quality of the advice that we are receiving? Here are some tips to help you select finance advisors that will steer you in the right direction.

One of the first signs of really good finance advisors is that they will ask questions – a lot of them. You want to be wary of someone who attempts to cut your off and give you a textbook answer to your query in twenty five words or less. Advisors who have the best interests in mind for the people they counsel will want to explore in more detail what is happening in general with the person’s finances, rather than handing out a canned response and then rushing off to meet the next person. While you may find it odd that your advisor asks questions about your work and what your family likes to do in the way of recreation, remember that the idea is to understand how your family makes money and spends it normally. Armed with that background, the advisor can supply possible options for you that might have never come up otherwise.

Along with asking questions, good finance advisors know how to listen to the responses. By stepping back and letting you talk, your advisor is also providing you with a chance to work out solutions in your own head as you articulate the circumstances surrounding the financial issue. Being a good advisor means being a bit of a psychologist and not just providing you with road maps of things to do. A large part of it is listening to what you say, asking clarifying questions, and getting you to do some thinking on your own. Often, a good advisor is more of a facilitator, helping clients discover their own answers and then providing some constructive counsel on how to proceed.

Finding finance advisors that will work for you may be as simple as talking with a trusted friend, or scheduling an appointment with your banker. In other instances, you may want to speak with an organization that provides financial counseling at little or no charge to people who need some assistance in dealing with a sticky financial issue. Check around your community and see what types of resources are available to you.

How to Pick a Trusted Financing Advisor

Many business owners and financial executives want to ensure they can rely on an independent ‘trusted’ financing advisor when it comes to their business finances. How does one pick such an advisor? Naturally in today’s environment business owners don’t have time to waste, and if they have financial or growth challenges they are looking for someone that can bring expertise and solutions to their business.

We are constantly told that business owners are looking for a firm they can trust, respect, and has, of course, credentials.

We believe this whole area of developing a trust between the advisor and the company is a two way street. It is incumbent on the business owner to make sure the goals and needs of the company are made very clear. Business owners or financial managers should not blur the issues to the point that each party does not understand the goals and the respective roles.

When a trusted financing advisor is chosen he or she needs to be given access to the reins and information on the business and its challenges.

Business owners need to ensure that the specialist firm they are dealing with has experience either with the challenges they are facing, or the particular industry the customer is in. Many business financing challenges are industry specific, so this is not the time to be training and advisor on your business! Most people realize though that many financing challenges are somewhat generic in nature, so although an industry expertise is often helpful, it is clearly not always 100% required.

The business owner and financing advisor need to be able to have effective dialogue and communication on what the operational and financing issues are. Many times there are what we call ‘ warning signs ‘, yet in other cases companies are already clearly in trouble.

A financing advisor needs to be given information and clarification on issues related to:

- Sales
- Profits
- Currenet lenders
- Working capital issues
- Asset issues
- Future goals of the company

Naturally the above list is hardly all inclusive, but it is a solid start to the dialogue. The business absolutely has to have a handle on what the intermediate term goals are. Management needs to have a strong sense that the business advisor can assist in the recovery, and the advisor must be given the tools that he or she needs.

Both the business owner and advisor should have frank discussions around the probabilities of success and the timelines associated with that success. What’s realistic, what isn’t.

Business owners and financial executives should clearly check the background and experience of the advisor. References are of course highly recommended. Professional affiliations are of course important, but not critical. References from lawyers, bankers, and accountants are often excellent sources of information. The business advisor should clearly be indicating they have the right attitude and credentials around the business owners financing needs. It is certainly not unrealistic to have solid discussions around timelines and action items responsibility.

Ultimately business is of course people, so chemistry is important, and the business owner should have a sense they could work with the financing advisor. However, at the end of the day you don’t have to like people to get the job done ( it certainly helps though!). Credibility and experience are ultimately always at the top of the list.

All engagements should of course be documented properly re success, work fees, etc. A credible business financing advisor will of course be willing to sign any required non-disclosure document.

In summary, a trusted business financing advisor is a valuable ‘ out of the company ‘ asset to any firm. Business owners and financial mangers should choose such an advisor carefully, and pay important attention to the qualities and capabilities that advisor can bring to the table, and ultimately, the firms success.