Earlier last week, I, along with TrueAccord’s CEO, Ohad Samet and general counsel, Avital Samet, attended the Association of Collections and Credit Professionals International (ACA) convention in Boston. Even though it was my third time attending the ACA convention; it was my first time attending as Head of Business Development for TrueAccord.
If you work in debt collection, attending the ACA conference is worth it. In addition to informative panels and the exhibit hall, there are a ton of networking opportunities. The collections industry is based on relationships and it is only through hallway conversations and drinks at end of day receptions that these relationships can be built.
In reading recaps of the event, it wasn’t obvious that a sense of fear pervades the industry as a result of the new TCPA ruling from the FCC (outlawing robocalling and reaffirming consumer consent in phone and sms communications). This, as well as recent crack downs and fines by the CFPB, were at the forefront of many attendees minds. My takeaway from these conversations is that uncertainty due to increased regulation and accompanying required documentation continues to be a concern. How this might affect the actions of debt collectors remains to be seen. Will they increasingly move towards automation for customer service and documentation? Will they invest in technology with hopes to innovate in the debt collection space?
Currently, debt collectors are preoccupied with growing business operations while satisfying compliance and making sure their documentation is unimpeachable. The additional staff resources that this requires is making it difficult for smaller mom and pop agencies. As the costs associated with compliance and infrastructure eat into profit margins; smaller agencies will be consumed by larger ones.
A conference like the ACA is only as useful as the discussions after the sessions and connections made in hallway conversations. Having spent most of my career working on more consumer friendly ways to collect, I bring an optimistic view to the industry. I’m a strong believer in providing a dignified consumer experience, even if (especially if) we’re dealing with collections. Today’s debtor was yesterday’s good customer and every customer has the potential to be a good customer again. If you treat your customer well in their hour of need, you’ll have a customer for life.
Given the current state of debt collection, an industry that has essentially remained the same since the 1950s, the industry is ripe for disruption. Using telephones and snail mail as the primary tools to collect debts are no longer going to be enough, especially amongst Millennials. Consumers today, those accustomed to online and mobile transactions, won’t answer unknown phone numbers. The industry was essentially built around the telephone as its primary tool to contact debtors and this has limited its ability to innovate. (The recent FCC ruling squashing robocalling is a wake-up call, since that was one of the few innovations in the last decade.) Real debt collections innovation will be in how the industry interacts with consumers. That’s why I’m excited about TrueAccord’s Mission & Values, as well as the technology we have in place to support it.
TrueAccord’s system consists of technology, strategy and communications that are light years ahead of the rest of the industry. Though it seems like a no-brainer to us, we see debtors as customers that we’re engaging on a journey towards debt repayment.
This is why we aren’t concerned about the recent FCC or CFPB rulings. It just underscores what we’re doing right. The problems that TrueAccord are solving have the potential to do good and impact millions of people. As I settle into business development for TrueAccord, I’m looking forward to watching our technology get adopted across the collections industry. Our less intrusive way to contact a customer about debt should become the future gold standard. I know that what we’re doing in debt collections—the technology, the content, the data and the customer engagement at TrueAccord—is poised to fundamentally change the face of debt collection.
Jason Hass, Head of Business Development, TrueAccord
Jason Hass comes to TrueAccord with over 10 years experience in the debt collection and financial services industries. Prior to heading Business Development at TrueAccord, he spent a year at Credit Karma. He has previously held positions as COO and General Counsel at organizations in the US and Philippines. Jason holds a J.D. from Southwestern Law School and a B.A. from the University of Arizona.