Omnichannel communication is the future of consumer interaction

By on February 13th, 2018 in Industry Insights
TrueAccord Blog

Today, consumers engage with service providers and businesses through multiple digital devices and platforms. They expect to be able to research car loan interest rates on their iPad, then see an ad in their Facebook news feed on their desktop, and finally apply for the car loan application on the bank app using their mobile phone. According to a ComScore study, 50% of consumers rely solely on their mobile devices for all of their banking needs. These numbers reveal just how comfortable consumers are with digital communications and banking.   

An omnichannel approach creates a consumer experience that is consistent, complementary and seamless as they move across channels. This is now an expected way for consumers to interact with businesses, and that expectation continues into the debt collection process. Surprisingly, many debt collectors are still using phone calls and letters to get the attention of the consumer, but because their methods are so out of date, many customers will ignore or miss their communications all together, leaving a tremendous amount of debt unpaid.

What is an Omnichannel Debt Collection Strategy?

An omnichannel debt collection strategy is a consumer-centric approach to communicating with consumers. It’s a personalized and intelligent strategy of marketing that provides a seamless experience, regardless of channel or device. Consumers can now engage with a company in a physical store, on an online website or mobile app, or through social media. They can access products and services by calling a company on the phone, by using an app on their mobile smartphone, or with a tablet, a laptop, or a desktop computer.

When utilizing an omnichannel debt collection strategy it’s important to note that you’re not just making your website mobile friendly or sending an email reminder once a month. It’s not using multiple channels in order to stay ‘top of mind’ to the consumer. According to TeleTech Consulting, “To succeed with emerging channels, you can’t leapfrog over the basics. Instead, you must build a solid customer experience foundation from which to incorporate all interaction channels. This means setting up people, processes, and technology to identify, differentiate, customize, and interact with customers to meet their needs and resolve their issues.”  An effective and precise omnichannel debt collection strategy will use the consumer’s behavior to personalize every interaction and communication in order to nurture the customer through the collections process until their debt is fully paid.

Consider the Customer Journey

Most businesses are aware of their customer’s journey. Consumers take this same journey when paying off their debts, but traditional debt collection agencies or agents are not nurturing their consumer through the process, which leads to ignored calls, irritated consumers, and unrecovered debt.

TrueAccord understands that in order to appropriately nurture the consumer through the process you must use the technology and platforms they are most comfortable with. We reach our consumers through text messaging, email, and push notifications on their devices. The average American spends 4.6 hours a day on their cell phone, but most of that time is spent on apps, searching the web, and texting.  A recent study by Informate, found that globally people are not spending time on speaking on their phones. Further, the FCC has warned the American people not to answer any unknown phone calls in order to remain safe and avoid scams. An omnichannel debt collections strategy is the only effective way to meet consumers needs, which is why 95% of TrueAccord’s customers resolve their debt through self-service, online, without a single phone call.

Customer Journey in the Omnichannel Debt Recovery Strategy

From the consumer’s viewpoint, paying off a debt and making a purchase for a product or a service are very much the same, so it is no surprise that they need the same amount of nurturing and follow a very similar customer journey. TrueAccord uses behavior analytics and machine learning to create a personalized omnichannel debt collections strategy that is seamless and effortless for the consumer.

Every step in the debt recovery process is determined by the consumer’s behavior and needs. TrueAccord consumers will experience an individualized consumer journey unique to them. Personalization coupled with flexibility enables TrueAccord to collect more debt from more consumers. TrueAccord’s customers are able to utilize payment plans to pay off debts because they are easy to set up, offer many choices and nurture and motivate consumers to stay committed with positive messages.  

The following chart is an example of one consumer’s personalized journey from debt collections to debt recovered.  As the consumer moves through the different stages, the decision engine decides on what channel to use, what content and how often based on the consumer’s interaction with the platform.

Click here to download a larger version of this diagram

Precision in an Omnichannel Debt Collection Strategy

A personalized omnichannel debt collection strategy is a very precise method of interacting with consumers. This is not a throw-it-all-at-them-everywhere approach to consumer communications. TrueAccord’s intelligent omnichannel debt collection strategy will actually communicate less frequently than a call center would, 3 times a week on average. There is no need to call the consumer 10x a day for weeks on end, or to send expensive direct mail letters in various color paper just to be ignored. The omnichannel approach communicates less frequently but much more effectively, reducing call volume by more than 95% and attempting to contact consumers about three times per week. Because the communication responds to each individual consumer’s behavior it has maximum impact resulting in 50-500% more funds collected than traditional agencies.

An intelligent omnichannel debt collections strategy is a relief to today’s consumer. They are looking for a way to take control of their debt and manage it on their terms. TeleTech’s study found that, “simple tools that give customers more say in their interactions can also improve the experience in the long run.” TrueAccord is the tool consumers with debt are looking for. We believe debt collection does not have to be a stressful never-ending process. When consumers are met on terms that make them most comfortable, and given options that suit their needs, they are happy to pay off their outstanding debts.

Today, 64% of consumers approach businesses with the expectation of personalization and streamlined digital access, an omnichannel intelligent approach to debt collections is a necessity for the success of debt recovery. TrueAccord is the only collections platform powered by machine learning, which allows us to meet consumers exactly where they are and guide and nurture them efficiently through their personalized debt collection process until the debt is fully recovered.  We view the process through the eyes of the consumer and work to deliver an integrated experience that enables a seamless transfer between channels.

To get a larger version of our customer journey diagram, click here

Real issue for debt collectors is the irrelevance of telephones

By on February 6th, 2018 in Compliance, Debt Collection, Industry Insights, User Experience
TrueAccord Blog

Originally posted on American Banker’s BankThink blog.

In the past few years, the debate over limits on financial institutions’ electronic communications with consumers has focused on an outdated device: the telephone.

That is very well how the debate could continue under new leadership at the Federal Communications Commission, as industry supporters will likely urge the FCC to ease up on robo-calling restrictions.

In 2015, the FCC disappointed the financial services industry, which had wanted more flexibility on robo-calling restrictions. The agency’s ruling under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act went further, all but ending debt collectors’ use of robo-calls to cellphones. Then-Commissioner Ajit Pai, who is the new FCC chairman, wrote a scathing dissent. In it, Pai wrote, “The TCPA has become the poster child for lawsuit abuse.”

He is correct. In debt collection, TCPA litigation increased 31.8% from 2015 to 2016 while Fair Debt Collection Practices Act litigation decreased during the same time period. This isn’t surprising. The FDCPA puts a cap on damages while the TCPA does not. Furthermore, the 2015 FCC ruling provided broad and ambiguous definitions with many openings for legal action.

Lawyers have been making a living out of suing and settling with debt collection agencies for a long time – often in a way that can seem abusive. The industry is advocating for Pai to undo a lot of that perceived harm by reducing collectors’ TCPA-related compliance and litigation costs.

But if Mr. Pai loosens the rules on robo-calls, he will hurt consumers by subjecting them to more unwanted calls and also hurt debt collectors and creditors by allowing them to sink back into short-term complacency about their collection methods while the world changes around them.

Phone calls are losing relevance as consumers migrate to communicating with companies over digital channels. Indeed, the tech company Neustar reports that 97% of business calls go unanswered. Yet, some debt collectors are trying to stop regulators from placing limitations on their calling strategies – strategies that are harmful to consumers who don’t even want to communicate by phone.

To be sure, some debt collectors are acknowledging the communication trend.

Take, for instance, Albert Cadena, president and chief operating officer of USCB America. Cadena took the stand at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s field hearing on debt collection in Sacramento, Calif., in July, and said: “Communications is a key thing in our industry. We talk a lot about reaching out: letters, calls. The key thing … is to respond, communicate, talk to the collections agency whether it’s first party or third party.”

Perhaps unwittingly, Cadena was suggesting that communication is not as effective as it could be, and that traditional modes of communication (calls and letters) have become largely ineffective.

His remarks were made the day after the CFPB published its outline for a proposed regulation in debt collection – a document that was more than three years in the making and published a year after the FCC’s broad TCPA ruling. In the bureau’s outline were sections that point to the direction the industry should actually focus in on when communicating with consumers: email and text message.

The Trump administration may defund the CFPB, and the FCC may roll back its TCPA ruling. Debt collectors may hope for simpler compliance requirements and less frequent enforcement actions. However, in terms of the policy around telephone communications, both supporters and detractors of these agencies’ regulatory agenda are debating about a disappearing world. A policy focused on phone calls and written letters is inconsistent with a new generation of borrowers that responds to emails and social media posts. This debate is still focused on the minutiae of the FDCPA, a rule from the 1970s that forbids the use of postcards, while some consumers never set foot in a bank branch or talk to a banker.

Not all industry players are ignoring these realities. Several large issuers and banks have been leading the charge in shifting from call-heavy, to digital-first and consumer-friendly collections. The CFPB’s proposal explicitly calls out email and text messages as technologies for debt collection. The future of the industry lies in adapting to consumer behavior and the fact that consumers are not answering their phones.

TrueAccord’s 2018 Predictions for Debt Collections Market

By on February 1st, 2018 in Debt Collection, Industry Insights

The year 2017 was full of intriguing developments in the US debt collection industry.

  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau published a report that revealed debt collection was the issue most complained about by American consumers. Along with mortgage-related complaints, debt collection makes up about half of the 1.2million issues raised with the CFPB since it started accepting complaints in 2011.
  • The Federal Communications Commission adopted a new set of rules aimed at shutting down robocalls, an engagement method which has long been used by traditional collection agencies.
  • And, despite a growing regulatory pressure matched by increasing consumer demand, the pace of technological and product innovation in the space remained slow.

As we move through the early weeks of 2018, it is time for us to assess how the debt collection landscape might change and advance in the coming year. Here are our predictions for the rest of 2018.

Levels of consumer debt in the United States will continue to rise

Midway through 2017, Nasdaq.com commented that consumer debt in the US was rising at an “alarming” pace. In the second week of 2018, it was clear that that trend shows no sign of slacking, as NowThis reported that credit card debt had reached an all-time high of $1.023trillion. Student loans have become the largest source of household debt outside of mortgages. The most recent reports indicate a total US student loan debt of $1.48 trillion – that’s an average of more than $37,000 per graduate. And the student loan delinquency rate is 11.2%.  Car loans are also rising. Automotive News confirmed in September that Americans owe $1.1tr in auto loans – a new record.  At the same time, the cost of consumer goods and services is also increasing. The cost of several major areas of household expenditure – including medical expenses, housing, and food and beverages – has increased faster than income growth since 2007. The American economy is strong and shows every sign of remaining so in the coming months. And while the economy remains strong, people across the nation will keep spending. The need for a new generation of consumer-centric, automated, technology-driven debt collection experiences has never been greater.

Traditional methods of debt collection will become progressively less effective

The total recovered by debt collectors has declined steadily in recent years, falling from $13.3billion in 2012 to $11.4bn in 2016. At the same time, the CFPB reports that the net credit card charge-off rate – a handy barometer of the efficiency of debt collection – has risen gradually from a low of 3.8% in the second quarter of 2015 to 4.9% in the second quarter of 2017. One of the reasons why less debt is being recovered is the methods which have traditionally been used. Telephone calls and letters are not how modern consumers want to be approached. They find it easier to block phone calls; they want an interactive, user-friendly solution that is tailored to their needs and allows them to use their preferred technology in a way and at a time that suits them.

There is an app for everything these days. The average internet user now spends more than two hours a day on social media and messaging services. All consumers are spending more and more time online and millennials, the largest demographic in debt today, spend an average of 223 minutes each day – more than three-and-a-half hours – on their mobile devices, up from 188 minutes in 2016. And yet the debt collection space has not seen the sort of technological innovations that will allow it to keep pace with this new mobile-first age. Agencies are reacting by consolidating for scale but, as the CFPB report stated, they are still using the same methods for collection.

The debt collection industry will need to start investing in technology and creating customer-centric experiences

To counter the above trends, it’s imperative that debt collection agencies invest in data-driven technology that allows them to learn about, and understand, the behavior of the consumer. In short, they need to ask themselves the following questions:

  •   How can we have a conversation with consumers?
  •   How do we track their behavior?
  •   How do we then adjust our strategy to ensure better results?

It’s not just millennials. Older demographics also want a more customer-friendly, consumer-focused approach that is driven by digital technology. Consumers want to pay off their debt, but they want to do it in a way and at a pace that is convenient for them.  There needs to be a shift in creating tools that make it easier to pay off debt, so more people will do it. That means investing in the technology that allows for a user-friendly, omnichannel approach.  Flexibility, convenience and a great user experience are key to more debt being recovered. The industry has to begin its shift to use technology, automate and implement user-centric approaches to collections to keep pace with increasing levels of debt and consumer preferences.  

The pace of Fintech innovation will continue to be high

While the gap between spending and debt collection by traditional agencies continues to grow because of a reliance on outdated methods, in the banking and investment spheres there has been a large number of entrants that have quickly gained market share.  The wealth management space has seen disruption by newcomers such as Wealthfront, RobinHood, and Betterment offering financial planning and investing for just about anyone.  By lowering the barrier to entry and creating great user experiences they have been able to quickly penetrate the market and to go head to head with the more traditional established firms.  Challenger brands such LendingClub and SoFi are also re-imagining the lending pace, making it easier for consumers to access alternative loans.  These disruptors are bringing great marketing and compelling user experiences as a way to differentiate and gain market share with much smaller teams. As a result, they are challenging and changing consumers’ behavior. The debt collection industry needs to aspire to a similar agility simply to be able to keep pace with this hi-tech innovation.

Emerging companies will need to devise strategies to tackle debt collection

Emerging brands in the consumer space who are looking to grow retention and advocacy will need to address the issue of debt collection. They need to absorb the lessons of the current landscape and integrate optimal collection practices into their customer proposition sooner than later. As well as recovering more debt, this process will by definition help to increase customer retention. Emerging brands tend to focus first on growth and, as a result, they lack the expertise to carry out collections in-house and do not relate to traditional agencies’ methods and values. While they are focusing on their core offering, it is important that they embrace a more forward-looking method of debt collection. They will need collections processes that align with their organizational core values and their customer’s preferences, putting more pressure for innovation in the collections space.

Podcast: Creating a Positive Impact in Debt Collection Using Technology and Building Consumer-Centric Experiences

By on January 29th, 2018 in Compliance, Debt Collection, Industry Insights, Machine Learning, Product and Technology

Our CEO, Ohad Samet’s, recorded a podcast with Lend Academy discussing the positive impact technology is creating in the collections space and the need for more innovation. Will discuss TrueAccord’s unique approach to debt collection using data-driven, digital communications to create deeply personalized consumer experiences.  The podcast also covers the current state of the collections industry and where it’s likely headed as regulatory pressure, consumer preferences and compliance requirements converge.  Will cover how TrueAccord is using machine learning to deliver deeply personalized and engaging experiences for consumers while achieving higher recovery rates across various debt types.

Tune in and learn:

  • The state of the debt collection industry today and where it’s headed
  • How the use of machine learning is personalizing the debt collections experience for greater conversions
  • Why code-driven compliance outperforms traditional collections practices by reducing risk to organizations
  • How understanding consumers’ preferences for easy, self-service options with flexibility empowers  more consumers to pay off their debt and get on a path to financial health 

If you’re rather read the transcript, download it here.

Using Your Tax Refund To Repay Debt: Taking a Consumer-Centric Approach

By on January 23rd, 2018 in Debt Collection, Industry Insights

How appropriate is it that the Tax Season starts on December 31st?  The day before so many of us gear up for our New Year’s resolutions, often involving some sort of fitness goals or better eating habits, but sometimes the best intentions can fall flat, according to US News 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by mid-February.

There are clear similarities between the mindset that will help you to achieve your fitness goals and the one required to pay off a debt successfully. It’s all about pacing yourself and setting realistic expectations in the beginning. If you set an over-ambitious goal and aim too high, there’s a greater chance that you will quickly become disheartened and abandon your campaign. By setting a steady pace and you will feel accomplished, motivated to keep going, with a much greater likelihood of a positive long-term outcome.

Set realistic goals   

We know you that many of you intend to use your tax refunds to pay down your debt. According to a survey conducted by Credit Karma 62% or those surveyed expect to get a tax refund, and 40% of those plan to spend the money to pay down their debt.  We want to help you be successful, and help turn your intentions into actions.  TrueAccord will start the conversation early, using positive and encouraging content to motivate you towards getting started. We know you have choices to make, and we know that by building trust and creating a positive conversation we can help you to get started with your repayment process, and towards your better financial future.

TrueAccord approach

TrueAccord is leading the way in providing new, easy, digital, customer-focused ways for debt collections process.  We are building a process that fits your needs.  But even when you do want to pay it off, it can be really hard to get started.  You may feel overwhelmed, fear it will take forever, after all, average credit card rates today are around 12.5%, significantly adding to the length of time and payment amounts. This is where the flexibility of payment plans and the best digital user-experience sets us apart from any other collections process you may have experienced.

The power of positive communications and UX

We’re not like traditional, old-fashioned agencies who turn up the heat by making more calls and sending more letters. This is not a user experience that will motivate people to take action, in fact, it can do quite the opposite.

TrueAccord starts the conversation as early as December, building on your own intentions and keeping debt repayment at the top of your mind.  We focus on encouraging messages personalized to individual situations, with the built-in flexibility needed to figure out what will work for each consumer.  And we give you the tools that make it fast and easy to repay, with on-demand access to a personalized dashboard via a mobile phone, tablet or desktop. It’s part of our mission to redefine the debt collection process by making it more personal and user-friendly.

Choices for a personalized approach 

TrueAccord offers a variety of payment plans on a regular basis, and during the tax season, we test more options to give you more ways to get engaged.  Some of you may pick to pay a larger sum up front and then smaller amounts going forward, or you may set up the first payment in advance of the refund day, or start out with smaller amounts and gradually increase over time. We test different messages and offer a variety of options to see what works; it’s all part of the personal approach. Again, the similarities with a New Year fitness campaign are compelling. Everybody has a different target and a variety of ways and means to get there. But as long as you feel better, fitter and happier with your financial world by the end of the process, we’ll be happy too.

Welcome 2018!

By on January 5th, 2018 in Company News, Culture

Happy New Year! As we look back at 2017, we are thankful for a year full of growth for the company and for our team.  We hit some amazing milestones that could not have been possible without a smart, strong, passionate and dedicated team.

December is a month of celebrations, and we had an amazing holiday party to end the year.  We shed our casual work attire and had fun dressing to the nines and dancing the night away.

Of course, December is also a great time to give back and help those less fortunate.  We partnered with the San Francisco Fire Department for their Annual SFFD Holiday Toy Drive and were able to provide gifts to a number of program recipients. There are a few of us here at TrueAccord who benefitted from this program as kids, so it was awesome to see things come full circle. The SFFD Toy Program has been in operation since 1949 and strives to ensure all kids have a great holiday season full of toys. The team loved the idea of giving back and we hope to do more events like this in the future.

Our team continues to grow, we welcomed the final hires for 2017: Aviv Peretz, Senior Data Scientist / Cherlynne Serafino-King, Talen Acquisition Partner /Rocky Chau, Customer Engagement Specialist

Looking forward to what 2018 has in store.

Obtaining Consent In Digital Debt Collection

By on December 13th, 2017 in Compliance, Debt Collection, Industry Insights

There are few industries left that are as ripe for disruption as the collections industry is right now. In the case of collections, the old adage of “if ain’t broke don’t fix it” has guided the process for collection agencies for the better part of 40 years. Collectors knew that they could reliably collect on past due accounts by simply sending a letter or two and calling debtors repeatedly until they made contact and then convincing the debtor to pay off the account. Creditors built their customer contracts knowing that the collections model of phone and letter outreach was well established. Today, things are changing and they’re changing fast. Nearly 77% of American consumers own a smartphone. Naturally, consumer preferences on how they want to be communicated with have evolved, and at TrueAccord we’re working hard to stay on top of this trend, while maintaining the highest standard of compliance, and pushing the industry to catch up to the times.

The collections practices set out by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) were designed primarily to protect consumers from abusive contact by collectors in person, by phone, and by letter, but gave little thought to new technologies or how they would be used by consumers. It was only last year that the new proposed rules on debt collection were announced by the CFPB referencing new digital communications methods. This announcement has been creating waves for both creditors and debt collectors and now is the time to start thinking about consumer communications preferences and how to leverage new communications tools to contact your customers, even in collections.

The legal standards for how to obtain consent to contact a debtor is outlined in regulations and in basic agency law. In almost all cases consent to contact a consumer transfers to an agency. Most creditors have added to their contracts provisions allowing for consumer contact by mail and phone with some forward thinking creditors including consent language for the creditor to service the account using email or even better, digital communication channels. However, not many contracts underlying a debt that gets placed in collections anticipated a collector wanting to contact a debtor by email or text message.  With new rules coming, now is the time to anticipate this change and create broad consents that incorporate digital channels that currently exist, and that may be created. An example of a broad consent in a contract might look like:

“If we need to contact you to service your account or to collect amounts you owe, you authorize us (and our affiliates, agents, contractors and third party servicers) to contact you at any number you provide, from which you call us, or at which we believe we can reach you, at any email address you provide to us or at which we believe we can reach you, or through any social media or other digital communications platform you may use. We may contact by calling or texting. We may contact you using an automated dialer or prerecorded messages. We may contact you on a mobile, wireless or similar device, even if you are charged for it.”

This clause incorporates phone, email, text, social media, and leaves the door open for new technology like push notices.  Even though there is some uncertainty around the ability to contact consumers using all of these new channels it’s important to think ahead for when the laws catch up to consumer preferences. It’s not uncommon for a consumer to reach out to TrueAccord and ask for us to text them account details and we wouldn’t be surprised if a consumer asked us to contact them using other messaging apps like Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger. With the consent language above a collector could respond to consumer demand and use these channels to contact a consumer in the way they want to be reached. Respecting consumer preferences will open the door to more successful collections opportunities benefiting consumers, collectors, and creditors.

Life at TrueAccord: November Edition

By on December 8th, 2017 in Company News, Culture

It’s been a really busy month for us at TrueAccord, and we’re a little late in posting, we almost can’t believe it’s December.  We’ve had some incredible highlights from November, the biggest was closing our Series B, which is going to help us grow our team and continue with our mission to change the debt collection space for good.  We have tons of open positions, and lots more coming next year.

Our team continues to grow, with a bunch of new team members coming on board: Marques Moore (Front Office Assistant), Jacob Hunt (Integration Engineer), Juan Gonzalez (Integration Engineer), Robert Rodriguez (Customer Success Manager), Jas Kao (Client Success Specialist), and Young Xu (Product Manager).

Of course, we always take the time for our happy hours and celebrating!  Nothing says November more than pumpkins and turkey.

As the weather cools down and the holiday season is just around the corner, we took some time to warm up with some jazz, sweets and hot chocolate.

My First Month On The TrueAccord Engineering Team

By on December 4th, 2017 in Culture, Engineering and Data, Industry Insights

I can’t believe it’s been a month since I started at TrueAccord. About eleven months ago, my husband and I moved to Bay Area from Australia. It took us a few months to settle down with two young kids, a 5 years old girl and a 18-month-old boy. Three months ago I decided to look for a job as my final step of settling down. As you can imagine, reaching out for a good job opportunity has never been easy. So when my friend who happened to work at next door of our San Jose office told me TrueAccord is hiring an engineer, I immediately applied it and got an offer after a few interviews.

Settling in a new job is not easy and it takes time and effort to process a ton of new information. I received a warm welcome and plenty of help from everybody. Through a short but informative onboarding process, I got to know the people with different backgrounds and perspectives and felt their energy and enthusiasm about the industry. With their help and support, I feel comfortable and ready for the challenges yet to come. The fact that the company is committed to maintaining a diverse workforce and ensuring an inclusive work environment is very attractive. I am really excited to join a multicultural environment like this.

My onboarding journey started with an orientation in our headquarters at San Francisco. I was introduced to the various teams I’d be working with, (engineering, data science, analytics, product)  and got to know them, what projects they were working on and the collaboration among them. I was so impressed with how well structured and organized TrueAccord is a startup company, where you can see well-established collaborations between teams, clearly defined procedures to help saving time and resources. Now, I was ready to start in our San Jose office, where the engineering team is based, and officially became a member of this innovative and collaborative team.

My first task was to set up my development environment, which was more challenging than I thought it would be. It took some time to get everything up and running. It was not the smoothest setup I experienced but it was a great opportunity for me to learn and understand our tech stack and development environment. It was also a great opportunity to see how supportive my team was in helping me get through this somewhat frustrating process, they jumped in to troubleshoot so I could get up and running quickly.

Setting up the workstation was just the start of the bigger journey. There was so much information I need to absorb to do my job. Coming from a Java background, the first thing I had to tackle was learning Scala since our main backend system depends on it. In addition to that, there are so many related technologies I needed to get my hand on. Again, my team was there to make sure I succeed, especially my manager, who make a great plan for me to help me navigate the process. Great discussions happened every week about our system and tech stack between myself and my teammates, which allowed me to jump in and start on some real tasks.

It has been a great month. There were challenges, frustrations, and excitements. I feel lucky that TrueAccord offered me my first job in the US. I am so thankful to everyone that helped me in this great journey. With such a great start, I believe I’m on the right track of fast and effective ramping, and I look forward to contributing more to our project.

I’m Excited to Join the CFPB’s Consumer Advisory Board

By on November 28th, 2017 in Company News, Debt Collection, Industry Insights
TrueAccord Blog

I’m very honored to have been appointed to the CFPB’s Consumer Advisory Board. With this appointment, the CFPB is sending a strong message about how it views technology’s role in shaping the future of consumer finance in general, and debt collection in particular. I’m proud to be able to represent the industry’s point of view while making sure we usher in a new era of great user experience and technology innovation. Even with Director Cordray’s planned departure, the CFPB remains a strong and active regulator. While some of the weight is likely to move to State level examinations, keeping in touch with Federal regulators remains a top priority as a way to contribute to consumer protection broadly, and to support TrueAccord’s long-term mission.

Anyone can apply to be a CAB member through the CFPB’s site. I applied and was appointed earlier this year. I did so because at TrueAccord we believe in the Bureau’s mission – protecting consumers – and also that engaging with your regulator is the smart thing to do. I was humbled and excited to be sworn in, because there is still so much in financial services in the US that can be improved, and innovation to be encouraged. I truly believe in the role of the CAB in informing the CFPB on important trends and how to support consumer protection and choice. I am lucky to be serving alongside academics such as Prof. Lisa Servon, consumer advocates such as Chi Chi Wu from the NCLC, and industry leaders such as Max Levchin. It’s a broad set of experiences and opinions that foster great discussions and set us up for the challenges in front of us.

The CAB looks at financial services in general, but my I cannot disregard my own backyard. In tricky, regulated markets like debt collection, with its active rulemaking process, it is even more important to take part in crafting fair and forward-looking rules that protect consumers. Any work I can do to ensure innovation can finally reach the debt collection market is a net positive for consumers and the industry.

The meeting span three full days in Tampa, Florida, and culminated in a public session with comments about the new PayDay rule. Bureau staff kept a tight schedule presenting latest developments in regulation, consumer education initiatives, and for first time members – an intro to the Bureau and its divisions. During the third day, I was also asked to give a 45-minute presentation on trends in the debt collection market. I used it to discuss the transformative role technology has in making the debt collection process customer-centric and digital first, creating better experiences with less friction and stress for consumers.

 

All in all, my first meeting was an incredibly positive experience. Staff turned out to be a diverse group of intelligent and thoughtful people, and the (now ex-)director a highly engaged and knowledgeable person. CAB members bring impressive backgrounds and facilitate an effective discussion, especially when they disagree. I am already looking forward to our next meeting, and reviewing developments we’ll see until then. I personally expect the debt collection rule to be one of them, though Bureau staff gave no formal guidance on this matter.