5 ways FinTech debt collection startups are increasing recovery rates

By on January 15th, 2019 in Industry Insights
TrueAccord Blog

FinTech debt collection startups are transforming a dated industry that was relying on archaic methods of practice. The industry disruptors are seeing dramatically increased recovery rates while offering a more pleasant experience for both debtor and creditor.

So how are they doing it? Let’s take a look…

1) Communication modernization

Humans are communicating with each other on unprecedented levels, but forms of communication have evolved. People aren’t picking up the phone to each other anymore, instead they text, email or use social media. Did you know, for example, that up to 68% of customers will open an email? So why do traditional debt collection agencies stick to those dying forms of communication? Digital communications, such as email and SMS, are the industry’s link to those people who have ditched the phone. This modern, omni-channel approach helps to increase long-term engagement with the client and drives up recovery rates.

2) Customer interaction analysis

FinTech debt collection startups, such as TrueAccord, know that they can learn from every interaction with their client. That’s why digital debt collection agencies use powerful AI to analyze their communications and work out the response with the best chance of success. This data-driven method is highly effective with follow-up emails based on user behavior performing almost three times better than the traditional method.

3) Communication development

By using modern forms of communication, FinTech debt collection startups have a huge advantage over the legacy agencies. Every piece of communication can be analyzed, altered and improved by state-of-the-art AI. TrueAccord is constantly evaluating their communications with customers and making improvements to drive up engagement and, ultimately, recovery rates. For example, it’s possible to analyze the effectiveness of one call-to-action button in an email compared to another. We can also work out which email subject lines are better at convincing people to open their emails. Our machine-learning engine can then help us create content that has the best chance of engaging with the customer.

4) Scaling-up

It’s very difficult for legacy agencies to scale their operations. New manual debt collectors need to be hired and then subjected to extensive training. Once they’re on the job, they often receive low, commissioned-based wages, which can lead to low-morale and a lack of motivation. FinTech debt collection startups have removed these issues by implementing a highly-scalable communication process. More than 90% of TrueAccord’s interactions with customers are automated, which means each care agent can handle 10,000 cases compared to the industry average of just 800. The sheer number of accounts each person can handle naturally increases recovery rates. The automation of the communication process also has the benefit of reducing compliance risks. Every email sent to our customers has been pre-written by talented content creators and approved by a team of lawyers.

5) Personalized payment plans

Customers fall into debt for a number of different reasons. They may be in-between jobs or had an accident that cost them financially. FinTech debt collection startups understand this and, more importantly, have the means to do something about it. TrueAccord’s hi-tech AI analyzes millions of previous interactions to work out the best course of action for an individual. If a customer needs a longer time to pay off their debt, our data-driven system can recognize that and offer a highly personalized payment plan to cater to the customer’s needs. Where many legacy agencies once worked against the customer, TrueAccord works with them to help them out of financial difficulties. This sympathetic approach helps to increase engagement and drive up liquidity percentages.

As you have seen from the above examples, FinTech debt collection startups really are changing an out-dated industry. A machine learning and data-driven approach is providing a much more sympathetic service which produces outstanding recovery rates. Speak to TrueAccord today to find out more about their revolutionary methods.

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The California Consumer Privacy Act: comments from Adam Gottlieb

By on January 10th, 2019 in Industry Insights
TrueAccord Blog

On January 8, 2018 the California Department of Justice held a public forum to receive comments on the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”). While this law was passed in June of 2018 there is still significant work to be done to refine and implement the new legislation before it goes into full effect on January 1, 2020. I attended this packed forum and came away with some key insights from those who spoke on how businesses, consumer advocates, information security professionals, and attorneys who specialize in data privacy view the law in its present form.

I heard three common themes that were echoed by consumer advocates, businesses, and trade groups that I’ll address in more detail below.

The definitions of personal information under this law are extremely broad and ambiguous.

1798.140(o)(1) defines personal information as “information that identifies, relates to, describes, is capable of being associated with, or could reasonably be linked, directly or indirectly, with a particular consumer or household.” It goes on to list common identifying information like name, address and SSN, but also includes “unique personal identifier, Internet Protocol address, email address, account name, other similar identifiers.” The law also references inferences that may be drawn from this information to create a consumer profile. By defining personal information to as little as an IP address or inferences drawn about a consumer this law will cover many millions of records and require businesses to create complicated new tracking systems to categorize this data. This will be costly for businesses, and due to the ambiguity of this definition it may be impossible to comply or provide consumers with the data they’re requesting.

The threshold above which a business must comply is very low.

The threshold to trigger compliance could be any of three events. 1) Gross annual revenues in excess of $25,000,000, 2) Buying or receiving, or sharing (emphasis added) for commercial purposes, or 3) deriving 50% or more of annual revenues from selling consumers’ personal information. It was the second point that businesses and trade groups were most concerned with. In combination with the definition of personal information this threshold could be considered as little as 50,000 unique website visits per year. This is only 137 unique site visits per day, which could easily occur for many businesses that happen to collect IP addresses, and “share” the information with any other individual or third-party service provider. The unintended consequences of this low threshold and the ambiguity in definition of personal information will pull thousands of businesses into being required to comply with this law.

Another point raised is that it is unclear when the requirements of the law apply once a business crosses one of these thresholds. Is it immediately upon passing one threshold? Is it retroactive for the activities in the calendar year prior to passing the threshold?

The law will require businesses to link data sets together that will create personally identifiable information that otherwise wouldn’t exist and serves no business purpose. This creates more risk in the event of a data breach.

If a consumer provides a “valid request” to a business, which is ambiguous and undefined, a company must gather all consumer info that may fall under the ambiguous definition in the law and provide it to the consumer. To provide this consumer data a business will be required to combine information from various unrelated sources, that on their own would not easily be used to identify a consumer, into a single record that easily identify a consumer and serves no business purpose. Consumer advocates, trade groups, and businesses expressed significant concern about this requirement. How is a business supposed to securely transmit this information to a consumer? How does a business track these requests and prove they’ve satisfied the requirements? How should a business secure this newly created record that will surely be a hot target for hackers?

It’s clear that there is a long way to go before this law can meet its intended purpose of protecting consumers and requiring businesses to treat consumer data appropriately to be in compliance. Our industry faces unique challenges to comply with this law due to the heavily regulated nature of our business. The complications this law will add to our compliance platform cannot be understated. I encourage you to take the time now to read the law, consult with your attorneys, and provide thoughtful comments to the regulators during this open comment period. We have an opportunity to raise our concerns about this law and have a real impact on the final language for this regulation with which we’ll have to comply.

How debt collection applications are revolutionizing the industry

By on January 8th, 2019 in Industry Insights
TrueAccord Blog

For years, traditional debt collectors have relied on outmoded and ineffectual techniques to collect money owed… but that is all changing.

Debt collection applications are revolutionizing the industry, utilizing machine-learning and AI to create a highly-effective and more convenient process for everyone. Traditional debt collectors don’t want you to know this, but the digitization and automation of the industry is producing breath-taking results. Here’s how…

Convenient communication lines

The world has never been more connected, but the way in which we communicate is changing. The average American aged 18 to 24 now sends 67 texts per day and receives 61. The telephone call is becoming less relevant by the hour, which means we need a new way to speak to our customers. Debt collection applications are ditching the call center-based communication lines of the past in favor of modern forms of messaging. Customers can now respond to emails and text messages when the time is convenient for them. Where traditional debt collection agencies may have called a debtor up to 10 times a day to try to get a response, companies such as TrueAccord can contact customers three times per week. That’s a huge saving in money and resources, plus the customer won’t come away from the experience feeling harassed.

Highly adaptable

When you’re looking to retrieve as much money as possible from debtors speed is vital. Up to half of all your meaningful interactions will be made within the first month of communications. After that the success rate dwindles. But when you’ve got a number of debtors to contact, how do you know who to contact first? Legacy collection agencies are constricted by the number of call center workers they have and how quickly they can work. Debt collection applications are highly-scalable with automated communications easily created in a much shorter time period. That means no matter how many debtors a company might have, each can be contacted very early on in the debt cycle.

Flexible payment solutions

Traditional debt collectors largely rely on a one-size-fits-all approach to payment solutions. Typically a customer in debt will have to call the debt collection agency to make a payment or organize monthly payments to work off their debt. However, this method really isn’t convenient for everyone. Debt collection applications can use a digital, self-managed process to create a personalized repayment plan that works for them. This makes it much easier for the customer to work themselves out of debt and into a far healthier financial position. For the customer, the process is much fairer and easier to process. For the business, it could be the difference between keeping the client on-board or losing them.

Compliance friendly

When you are relying on call centers to facilitate communications, every call is a compliance risk. Humans are driven by biases, emotions, even how much sleep they’ve had. They can be manipulated into unwittingly breaking rules or simply making mistakes. Debt collection applications have removed those issues. Digital communications can be pre-approved by a team of lawyers before they are sent to the client to ensure they comply with the ever-changing rules of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. At TrueAccord, we use code-based communication which further enhances the protection we can offer. Whenever a rule or regulation is changed, we make an easy update or modification to the code to keep all communications compliant.

Happy customers

For hundreds of years, debt collectors have enjoyed a less-than-favourable reputation. Their recovery tactics were often intimidating and confusing for the customer — we know that from personal experience. However, TrueAccord’s digital-first approach engages with customers in a way they are comfortable with. No more threatening or harassing phone calls to deal with. We use specialist content creators to write our communications in a friendly, clear and unintimidating fashion. We also encourage customers to take control of their own debt and regain financial health. This client-focused approach increases customer retention and gives the client a more positive debt collection experience than they would have ever received previously.

As we’ve seen from the above examples, debt collection applications really are revolutionizing the industry. Almost every facet of the process has been improved through a digital-first and data-driven approach offering better results and an improved experience for everyone involved. To start using one of TrueAccord’s debt collection applications, contact us today.

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Digital debt collection: What are the benefits for your company?

By on January 3rd, 2019 in Industry Insights
TrueAccord Blog

The debt collection industry was living in the Dark Ages before companies such as TrueAccord started using machine-learning and AI to revolutionize the process.

Now, digital debt collection services are dramatically improving recovery rates while increasing customer retention. But how could digital debt collection help your company? Let’s take a look at some of the main benefits for your business.

Increased recovery rates

The digital revolution has arrived just in time for businesses that rely on collection agencies to recover money owed to them. The effectiveness of the traditional methods has been continuing to fall in recent years with $13.3billion collected in 2012, falling to $11.4bn in 2016. Many legacy agencies are still relying on a one-size-fits-all approach to repayment plans and dying forms of communication such as telephone and snail mail. Thanks to advanced AI, digital debt collection agencies can now analyze each customer’s financial situation and construct a highly-personalized repayment plan. This customer-centric approach makes the repayment process as easy as possible for the debtor. Combine that with forms of communication relevant to the modern age — such as email and SMS — and you get far higher recovery rates.

Greater legal protection

Protecting your company against legal wrangles is a major concern for any business owner. While you want to retrieve money owed, you don’t want to do it in a way that will get you in trouble with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Traditional debt collection often relies on call center workers communicating with customers on the phone. But every call is a compliance risk. Humans can be dictated by their emotions or can be tricked into making mistakes by ill-meaning debtors. Using a digital debt collection service will be far safer for your company as compliance can be automatically added to all customer communications. Furthermore, when new regulations are introduced a simple update can be made to the code to keep them in line with the law.

Improved customer retention

Keeping hold of your customers is far cheaper than acquiring new ones. In fact, it can cost five times more to attract a new client than retain an old one. While debt collection is an awkward process that could drive a wedge between you and your customer, some methods retain clients better than others. Many traditional debt collectors offer an experience that is highly off-putting to clients — it was one of the reasons we launched TrueAccord. Their communications are often full of jargon that, at best, confuses the client or, at worst, intimidates them. The best digital debt collection agencies use modern communication methods with sympathetic language designed to engage with the customer — no more threatening letters or inconvenient phone calls. Customers can also devise their own repayment model, placing the power in their hands and retaining their loyalty. Of course, whether you want to take the customer back is up to you, but at least you might have the choice.

 

When you own or run a company, cash flow is going to be one of your main considerations. When a customer isn’t paying up it can seriously dent your plans or even put you out of business. While hiring a debt collection agency is something no-one really wants to do, it is sometimes the only option. Digital debt collection agencies, such as TrueAccord, have revolutionized the industry making it friendlier, retrieving more debt while keeping customers on board. If you think a digital debt collection agency is the right move for your company, contact us and take your first steps with TrueAccord.

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Why all business owners should embrace automated debt collection

By on December 20th, 2018 in Industry Insights
TrueAccord Blog

Whether you own a small startup or multi-national organization, you will always be looking to increase the amount of money coming into the company.

One area that many companies can quickly improve is their debt collection. For years, businesses have done things in-house or relied on traditional collection agencies that use outdated and ineffective methods.

However, a digital revolution has taken place and all that is changing. Now, data-driven collection agencies, such as TrueAccord, provide a much more efficient process that is safer, brings in more money and improves customer retention.

But that’s not all… here’s why all business owners should embrace automated debt collection.

Improved success rate

Ultimately, businesses want to recover money that is owed to them. However, the methods implemented by legacy collection agencies and in-house teams are nowhere near as efficient as using an automated debt collection service. That’s because modern, digitally-focused agencies utilize machine-learning and AI to provide a highly-personalized experience for the customer that produces far greater results. TrueAccord, for example, personalizes its automated communications by evaluating individual debtors and providing a service that works with them and not against. For example, we’re able to figure out which email subject lines best capture the customer’s attention and which call-to-action buttons drive the highest number of click-throughs. Our data, design and UX-driven approach leads to increased recovery rates and improved customer retention.

Less bloat

It doesn’t matter how big your company is, chasing debt can be a frustrating task, taking up man-power that could be better used elsewhere. Making calls, sending emails and processing payments all eat into office time. Depending on the amount of cash owed, you may even be considering hiring and training a customer care team to deal with debtors. However, this takes a considerable amount of time and money to put in place, which few companies can afford. Automated debt collection removes the need for additional hires and frees up employees’ time to work on other tasks. By automating communication and payments, you will be streamlining the whole process and keeping the number of staff at its most efficient. Furthermore, automated communication is highly scalable. More than 90% of TrueAccord’s customer interaction is through automated communication. That means each of our care agents handle more than 10,000 cases compared to the industry average of just 800.

Better compliance

The ever-changing rules and regulations surrounding debt collection can be tough to master. Violations can result in hefty fines that many companies simply can’t afford. Embracing automated debt collection can dramatically cut your risk of falling foul of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) thanks to its code-driven compliance. When the rules do change, easy modifications to the algorithm keeps the process on the right side of the law. TrueAccord even uses pre-written content for its communications which, not only increases engagement, but also keeps it compliant. Our legal team gives each piece of content a final read to make sure our automated communication matches up to the latest CFPB standards.

More cost effective

Implementing an automated debt collection service will be the most cost effective method of recovering money owed to you. As previously mentioned, the success rate is far higher but did you also know that the overall costs are much lower? Digital debt collection agencies can provide a much more customer-friendly approach thanks to its highly-personalized service. This leads to far higher customer retention and, ultimately, more money coming in from the client in the long run.

There are plenty of reasons why a customer may be in debt, but all business owners want to recover money owed to them. As the above examples show, every business could improve their cash flow if they embrace automated debt collection. Getting started is an extremely simple process and the benefits are tremendous. If you’re ready to start using automated debt collection, get in touch with us today.

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Which debt collection tools should you be utilizing?

By on December 19th, 2018 in Industry Insights
TrueAccord Blog

When you’re looking to retrieve as much money from your debtor as possible, you should be using the best debt collection tools available.

But for a long time, businesses have been relying on archaic recovery methods to reclaim money owed to them. Threatening letters and phone calls are normal, but neither are productive or effective in the digital communication age.

A data-driven, machine-learning revolution has taken place that has optimized the process for both creditor and debtor. But which of the new debt collection tools should you be utilizing? Let’s take a look…

Code-driven compliance emails

When it comes to contacting debtors, every telephone call can be a compliance risk. Even those aware of the rules can be driven by human error or emotions into making a costly mistake. However, digital debt collection agencies are now conducting communications via code-driven emails that are helping businesses stay the right side of the law. At TrueAccord, for example, we make sure our pre-written communications are checked thoroughly by a team of lawyers before they are sent to any clients. This assures predictable, legally safe communications. Additionally, when the rules and regulations change (which they do quite regularly) we can simply edit our code to bring all new communications in line. The benefits are a much reduced compliance risk that removes the age-old issue of human error or emotion from the equation.

Data-analyzed communications

Increasing liquidation percentages is the main aim of every cash recovery process. So it’s important to know that, when it comes to debt collection, the way we speak to customers can be the difference between retrieving everything or nothing. That’s why one of the most powerful debt collection tools currently available is data-analyzed communications. TrueAccord is constantly testing and reviewing the ways we speak to customers to help create more engaging content. For example, we were able to raise our click-through rates by 50% with one simple change aided by data analysis. All the call-to-action buttons on our emails to debtors once read “Pay Now”. However, after realizing that customers reacted differently depending on what stage of the debt lifecycle they were on, we changed some of the CTA buttons to “View my statement”. This minor alteration lead to a huge leap in the amount of people clicking through and actively engaging with their debt.

Creditor dashboards

Any business owner will tell you that being owed money is incredibly frustrating. Companies live and die on their cash flow and when that stagnates it can be detrimental (even fatal) to the business. Knowing where you are in the cash recovery process can give you some peace of mind, but many traditional collection agencies only offer monthly remittance reports or the odd catch-up. However, modern digital debt collectors are able to offer creditor dashboards which are updated multiple times throughout the day. From here, you will be able to check payment information, account statuses, activity metrics and a whole lot more. Businesses can then use the information provided to start planning for the future, making decisions based on up-to-date information. TrueAccord’s dashboard is even optimized for mobile to provide easy-to-read data wherever you are.

Personalized payment plans

People fall into debt for a variety of reasons. They may have lost their job, simply forgotten a payment or had an unexpected life event turn their world upside down.  For that reason, using a cookie cutter repayment plan is simply not going to be the most efficient means of debt recovery. That’s why a data-driven personalized payment plan should be one of your essential debt collection tools. TrueAccord’s machine learning-based system analyzes the debtor’s situation against a massive amount of data to come up with a payment scheme that works best for the customer. The process is far more understanding and flexible to the customers’ needs and we see payment plan breakage that is far, far lower than the legacy agencies offer.

For decades, traditional debt collection agencies have been using call center and letter-based communications to get debtors to pay up. The method is ineffective, costly and a compliance risk at every stage. FinTech startups such as TrueAccord have now introduced debt collection tools that are revolutionizing the industry making it more personable and efficient. Make use of these latest weapons and recover more of the debt owed to you.

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Our CEO’s talk for TrueAccord’s 2018 Holiday party

By on December 18th, 2018 in Industry Insights
TrueAccord Blog

Welcome, everyone, to our annual Holiday party. I’m so happy to see so many faces, people who’ve joined us this last year and people who’ve been part of the team for a few years now.

We’ve grown in so many ways as a company, and I want to take this time to thank all of you for your hard work.

I also want to tell you a story.

Lately I’ve been binge watching Chef’s Table on Netflix. I get inspired by people talking about their passion, so even though I’m not much of a cook, I love hearing others talk about cooking.

I watched it for a while and started noticing that there were episodes that left me inspired and ones that didn’t. And after some reflection, I realized the ones that didn’t inspire me were the ones with a glitzy success story focused on one lone genius figuring it all out on his own.

The chefs that inspired me were the ones who faced adversity. They experienced grief. They took time to figure things out. Their episodes showed their family, and friends, and coworkers —of people spending time, together.

Because it does take a village to build something great—a great restaurant, a great company. It takes a community. And the stories we tell about how we got here and what’s coming next matter. A lot.

When we started this journey five years ago, we had a simple story. We wanted to use technology to change debt collection.

Over the years, we grew. We added more people. We added more voices. Our story changed with the people who joined, because each person has added his or her own perspective.

With time, we realized that we have a bigger role to play than we first thought. We are not just about a great customer experience. We do much more than that.

We meet people at some of the worst times of their lives and we offer them a different story about debt, one that doesn’t rely on shame and guilt to collect.

We lead with empathy. We listen. We respect who they are, and where they come from. This is as important, if not more, as giving them the payment plan they were looking for.

What you do here, at our company, makes a difference to those people. We are entering 2019 with almost [redacted] consumers in our system. We [redacted] in a single year.

Everyone’s noticing. We even inspire traditional collectors to do things differently, from using our language to using new technologies.

Most of all, our customers are noticing—like [redacted], who wrote to us, saying “Your emails and messages were kind, understanding and indicative of the truth—which is that I’m a good person who fell on hard times, and was too scared, afraid and stuck to know what to do… You never gave up on me, and so when I could, I did everything I could to create a way to work with you to pay back my debt.”

We are writing this story together as we go, rewriting pain into hope and despair into inspiration.

Which leads me to you. To all of us.

I started having dinners this year because I was trying to figure out what makes a company great to work at after the first hundred people have joined—what attracts the type of people that makes work enjoyable.

This question led me back to empathy and our ability to listen to one another. To weave our stories together as we build something great.

All of us: those who had to grow up fast and those who took time to figure things out. Those who had sheltered lives and those who had to literally fight for their lives.

Those that faced rejection. Those that struggled to be accepted. Those who overcame adversity. Those who have failed, and yet still get up. And those who won. All of us.

Look around you. This is your team. This is your company. This is your story. What you choose to add to it may forever alter its nature.

The recent graduates thinking about their career paths. The seasoned veterans who joined to make us even greater. Everyone in between. It does take a village to build what we’ve built.

Now, I don’t know what the future holds. I think 2019 is going to be a great year. I think we’re going to continue to face adversity and win, again. I think we are going to expand our reach like never before.

No matter what we do, it’s going to be a great story. I can’t wait to hear your part of it as the year unfolds.

To where we’ve been, and where we’re going—together! Cheers to 2019.

Just Freaking Own It Already: Being a Woman of Color with Impostor Syndrome

By on December 17th, 2018 in Industry Insights
TrueAccord Blog

Originally published on LinkedIn by our Director of PMO, Antonia Wong.

This week I was an attendee and speaker at InsideARM’s inaugural Women in Consumer Finance conference in Baltimore, Maryland. My panel was called  Just Freaking Own it Already and we each shared a story about our experience with Impostor Syndrome.  

If you’ve ever had moments of self-doubt or bouts of Impostor Syndrome then what I am about to share will sound familiar.  Impostor Syndrome is that nagging feeling that at any moment your boss will tap you on the shoulder and admit they’ve made a mistake by putting you in the role. It’s the inner voice that convinces you that your role should have gone to someone else…perhaps someone more capable. Yep, that’s the feeling, and it can affect even the most competent and confident people.  I have experienced these feelings both as a woman and as a person of color.

Throughout my career, there have been instances where I’ve felt like an outsider. Feeling like the odd one out can be uncomfortable, but it doesn’t mean you don’t belong there. Impostor Syndrome can actually inspire and motivate once you figure out how to harness it.  Several years ago, I was hired at an international firm based in San Francisco. I was beyond excited and so ready to crush it. After about a month or so I could tell my colleagues really liked my work, but something was off. I didn’t feel fully accepted and I couldn’t figure out why. Once I started to pay attention, I noticed subtle hints that my “look” didn’t fit the status quo. I was unaware I had a “look”. Suddenly, I felt different. Like, the wrong kind of different. I wasn’t one of them and they knew it before I did. I was an Impostor. During my time there, people consistently commented on my hair and a managing partner even joked one day that my curly hair looked like party hair. Another person said people probably wouldn’t mess with me because I wore hoop earrings. I was called “exotic-looking” and also asked if I was born in the US. A different managing partner warned me of a parasite that “a lot of Asian people have.”

In my attempt to be taken seriously and not miss opportunities I did something that today’s me deeply regrets. I started to change. I began straightening my hair. My hoops changed to studs. I swapped out my bold lipstick for something more subtle and stuck to a muted palette for clothing. I even spoke differently. First I did this for interviews, then for meetings, and then it was like I had split myself in two. I had convinced myself that I was still me (on the weekends). I didn’t want to change. I just didn’t know how to adapt and frankly I had nobody to ask. It took some years to realize that my real opportunity was just freaking owning it already and being unapologetic about who I actually am- why should I be the one to adapt?  My experience as a woman of color in corporate America isn’t unique and being authentic has allowed me to hear others’ stories and understand the work it will take from each of us to shift things.

So how do we do it? What I have learned is that we need representation, strong representation, of everyone at every level. You have to see it to be it. When people feel included they are better to work with. Here are 5 tips:

  1. Be authentic. It is easier said than done, but it will always be the right thing to do. When you let your light shine you give others permission to do the same.
  2. Be the person at work that inspires courage and has a reputation for being effective and keeping it real.
  3. Mentor the junior women and men in your company, it doesn’t have to be formal.  Give feedback, encourage them to level up, find ways to give them access to opportunities and make time to advocate for their success. Find someone to do this for you too.
  4. Make a pact with yourself to never bring your talents and your gifts to a company that doesn’t allow you to be you. When I was promoted to Director of Project Management, I had a moment of self-doubt that quickly course corrected. I had had a no-nonsense reputation for getting things done and after the promotion thought to myself: I’m an executive now, I should probably be more chill. My CEO noticed me dialing it back and promptly gave me feedback. He said “We gave you this role because of your personality, not in spite of it.”  I work for a company that not only allows me to be me, they demand it. When you’re looking for your next role, do your research, ask questions, look at their c-suite team and board members to make sure there is representation, read reviews, ask for their Diversity & Inclusion initiatives, ask how they will help people grow. If they can’t answer these questions, it’s not the right place for you.
  5. Networking: It can be much more than small talk and random Linkedin adds. Networking is a great way to get inspiration, guidance, mentorship, future jobs, public speaking engagements, and other opportunities. Put yourself out there in the spirit of growth, development, and sometimes free drinks.

Antonia Wong is the Director of Project Management and the Diversity and Inclusion Chair at TrueAccord in San Francisco, CA. twitter: @toniacaponia | linkedin: /antoniawong/

Debt Collection market predictions for 2019

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

What does the future hold? We don’t own a crystal ball but we work with some deep thinkers with decades of experience, who’ve been watching this industry evolve over the years. Tim Collins (CCO), Sheila Monroe (COO), and Kelly Knepper-Stephens (VP of Legal) shared their predictions and expectations as we go into 2019 and what we all need to think about.

Read our 2018 predictions here.

Credit cycle downturn leading to bad behavior

Many financial institutions are predicting a downturn in 2019, which will prove to be the year’s biggest macro trend impacting behavior across the board. While several creditors already started tightening their underwriting criteria, almost none have sufficiently adapted their collections practices to take advantage of new technologies and will have to scale call center servicing as more consumers default. With the increase in roll rates and bad debt, creditors will be tempted to turn to old habits and increase aggressive calling tactics while they struggle to adapt to our now digital-first world.

The new BCFP rule isn’t a big surprise

We have been expecting the new debt collection rule ever since the process started in 2013. Now with the confirmation of Kathy Kraninger as the new Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection we may see the rule sometime early next year. The journey has been long and the scope of the rule changed multiple times, and some have hypothesized that the new administration may impact the content of the proposed rule. When the NPR comes out next year we however expect it to be very similar to the Bureau’s outline of the proposal presented in 2016. We expect the focus on disclosures, limitations on contact frequency, and some support for new communication channels that will fall short of a litigation-proof formula.

The NPR won’t be the only law passed impacting debt collection

Consumer complaints are forcing both sides of the aisle in the House and Senate to try and pass legislation to update the TCPA and empower not only the FCC but the BCFP and FTC to bring the robocalling crisis to a swift conclusion. The TRACED Act is the latest but won’t be the last and provides for criminal and increased civil penalties. These changes will make legitimate businesses pause calling to make sure they are not included and could be a field day for plaintiff lawyers.

Litigation to remain roughly the same as in 2018

The BCFP will publish a new rule and the FCC may engage in more enforcement activity but we do not expect anything to impact litigation activity in the debt collection market. Legal theories may change, one statue may be slightly over-represented vs. the others but overall numbers will not change much. The plaintiff attorney/collection agency game will continue to look more like a cybersecurity firm’s bug bounty program than courtroom drama, and we think it’s time to treat it as such and move on.

Robocalling increases exponentially

In 2018 we had a robo-call task force that impacted right party contact across the board as it swept collection calls together with spam calls. We don’t see this trend subsiding, but in fact increasing. With a record 5.1 billion robocalls made in October and technology is going to simplify the work of spammers for a long time before it catches up with blocking them, and the increased illicit activity will continue to encourage broad stroke prevention measures that are certain to continue hurting collection calls and RPC. Adding to that, financial institutions continue to adopt digital communication channels and the rise of digital-only “neobanks” will continue to educate consumers against using their phone. The combined effect will underline the continued crisis in phone-based collection efforts.

Increased use of technology to contact consumers

When TrueAccord was started in 2013, digital communication and AI were rarely heard of in debt collection. This was completely reversed in 2018 as these two topics have been frequently discussed. We expect 2019 to be a breakout year when more creditors and collectors will adopt multiple channels including chat, email, IVR, and texting, all driven by AI, to improve contact rates. Technology has matured as well as the industry’s interest and clients’ demands. We will be tracking those solutions and the market’s reaction to them as they scale.

M&A activity to increase dramatically

The new BCFP rule and robocall blocking activities will put tremendous pressure on small and medium agencies. Coupled with major creditors reducing their agency network, and new technologies requiring a large upfront investment, we expect further consolidation in the debt collection market. While prices may remain higher than they used to be, we expect more small and medium agencies to offer themselves up as owners worry about increased uncertainty and mounting costs. The deep-pocketed shall rule the segment.

Overall, we expect an eventful, challenging, and incredibly interesting 2019. We look forward to meeting with peers in upcoming events and discussing these developments as we see them unfold through the year.

5 tips for startups looking to work with debt collectors

By on December 12th, 2018 in Industry Insights
TrueAccord Blog

As the owner of a startup, you know a non-paying customer can have a serious impact on your cash flow. Getting the money owed can be a tricky task, which is where debt collectors could be beneficial to you.But if you have never used a collection agency before, you may not know where to start.

To help you in your search, here are 5 tips for startups looking to work with debt collectors…

1.   Exhaust your options first

No business owner wants to get debt collectors involved. In an ideal world, all your customers would pay on time without the need for calls and reminders. Unfortunately, that’s just not realistic. Customers come up with all manner of excuses as to why they can’t pay and, as a startup, you need to break through those. But before you get a third party involved, it’s important you exhaust all of your options. Dealing with the situation on your own could be the most cost-effective method of retrieving your money. Develop a structured escalation process for your business as a way to oil the debt collection process. Of course, no matter how hard you push, some clients will continue to push back, which is when you need the help of a debt collection service.

2.   Check their reputation

Your startup’s branding and reputation is one of the most important factors when it comes to determining future success. So, when you’re hiring a debt collection service, think of them as an extension of your company. The way they behave is going to reflect positively or negatively on your business. Do extensive research on the reputation of any debt collector you are thinking of using. If you get the decision wrong, you could end up with an agency that repels customers, damages your brand, and possibly lands you in legal hot water. However, using a trusted third party such as TrueAccord can actually help to increase client retention and improve brand perception. Don’t let a second-rate debt collection agency ruin it with poor service.

3.   Understand your client

As an entrepreneur, you will probably understand your client deeply. It’s important that the collection agency you choose understands them too. Many collection services deal with the process in a one-size-fits-all manner. However, you will see more return when you choose a firm that understands how your clients work. TrueAccord uses innovative machine learn to analyze consumer behavior, leading to a fuller understanding of clients’ quirks and preferences. From there, we know the optimal way of communicating with each debtor and which repayment packages they are most likely to accept. That’s why we have anywhere between a 50% to 500% better collection performance than our competition.

4.   Know the process

Before you hire a debt collection agency, you should have a good understanding of their processes. You need to know what will be expected of you and what information you need to provide. Typically this will include information on the debtor, so make sure you keep all this information well-organized and easy to find. You should also understand how the company will behave during the collection process. Ensure the agency you are going to work with will be able to provide you with full control and visibility over client interactions. If they are unwilling to show you their client interactions then this should serve as a red flag and you should stay well clear.

5.   Review the costs

For any startup, cash flow is going to be integral to success. You should make sure to optimize the debt collection process to increase the amount of money that comes in from your debtors. The key to maximizing your returns is choosing a collection agency that is both successful and cost effective. Speak to any agency you are working with and make sure you understand their charges. Different agencies work with different contracts so it’s important you get to grips with the fees before handing over your business. Lowering your costs and increasing the money coming in is the best way to turn this tricky time into something positive.

Bottom line: Tips for startups looking to work with debt collectors

Hiring a debt collection agency can be a daunting task for a startup business. You are effectively trusting a third party with your reputation during a highly delicate period.

Get the wrong agency and it could end up damaging your business. However, get the right one and your startup could receive the cash it is owed with its reputation as good as ever.