In an effort to provide “a broader range of services,” CredAbility of Atlanta and ClearPoint Credit Counseling of Richmond, Va., have agreed to merge by Dec. 31.
The newly created ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions will be headquartered in Atlanta.
By the time the merger is complete it will be the second largest nonprofit credit counseling organization in the nation after Money Management International of Houston, said Scott Scredon, a spokesperson for the company. “It’s a perfect combination of expertise and strengths that blends online and face-to-face services.”
The merger brings together two of the oldest nonprofit credit counseling organizations in the nation. CredAbility was founded in 1964 and ClearPoint in 1971. Together they have counseled nearly 2 million financially distressed households during the past five years, Scredon said.
Chris Honenberger, the CEO of ClearPoint, will also serve as CEO of the new counseling agency, while Phil Baldwin, the CEO of CredAbility, will become its president. The 30-member board of directors also will be equally shared will 15 members from each organization.
The goal was to combine the strengths of CredAbility’s housing and bankruptcy counseling with ClearPoint’s credit card repayment plans, Honenberger said. The new agency will be able to offer “more robust full-service counseling and education,” to the growing number of people who are seeking financial counseling and education.
Combined assets include 50 offices in 15 states including California on the West Coast and New York on the East Coast. Staff of more than 150 credit, housing and bankruptcy counselors, and financial educators will continue to be accessible seven days a week over the telephone and the Internet.
A primary benefit going forward, according to Baldwin, is that joint resources allow for new investments in technology updates and funds needed to develop a new suite of long-term financial advisory services for low- and moderate-income families.
The program will be an addition to the traditional budget and debt reduction advice, particularly those overwhelmed with credit card debt or seeking help to avoid foreclosure or bankruptcy that these credit counseling agencies historically have offered to people in financial distress.
“Both CEOs are very interested in pursuing options for low-income families that as a rule do not have access to retirement planning or other long-term advisory services,” Scredon said.
They already started a pilot financial advisory program for Hispanic households earning $75,000 or less annually that is scheduled to expand nationwide in 2014.