You’ll want to click on “read more,” especially if you didn’t attend DBA, but I just can’t resist sharing the unexpected benefit and early “Valentine” that two of my National List colleagues received from being there. Both Beverly Unrath and Kacey Rask told me almost the same thing, but in Kacey’s own words: “With two little ones, and no help [when I’m gone,] my husband is a one-man-show. I expected that he would be exhausted and cranky when I returned home. I am overwhelmed by how much he missed me and appreciates all that I do.” Kudos to All the spouses, husbands and wives, who make it possible for us to travel and spend long hours on the job!
Getting back to the Conference…..
Beverly reports, “I noticed several trends:”
- The mood was positive. Business is good for most NL’s debt buying customers. More evidence that the debt buying industry is strong and growing was the news in ARM.com immediately following the conference, “Enore Capital reports surge in profit and revenue close to $500 million in 2011.”
- Many debt buyers are diversifying from credit card portfolios to student loans, auto deficiencies and medical collections.
- Law firms are expanding into neighboring states. Clients are asking reputable debt collection firms to expand into states where they are having trouble finding contingency fee collection firms to suit their accounts. For example, Fulton Friedman & Gullace are now in Arizona, California, Washington DC, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia, Javitch, Block and Rathbone are now in Ohio, West Virginia, Texas, Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee and Ragan & Ragan are now in New Jersey, Vermont and Delaware.
Kacey adds, “This industry is definitely about relationships, and having the “face time” that this conference offers is so important. Although we are consistently staying in contact with NL clients and members, conferences are an amazing time to re-connect with friends in the industry. What I love most is the opportunity to match the needs of our clients to the strengths of our law firm members. Being able to meet a new client, identify their needs and then walk them over to a law firm member practicing in the state where they need assistance is so great. Clients, exhibitors and attorneys welcomed the opportunity to visit with me and explain in detail their part in the debt purchasing process. “Knowledge is power!”
Regulation was a hot topic of discussion . Beverly attended the Professional Women in the Collection’s Industry Network meeting. Jason Kaster, COO of Unifund Group, talked about the impact the regulatory environment will have on debt buyers and issuers in 2012. His main points included:
- The increased scrutiny in the industry as a whole will have a wide impact, depending upon a company’s current business practices.
- It is up to each entity to focus on the accuracy and validity of the information they use by working with the issuers to secure better information, as outlined in ACA International’s blueprint for modernization.
- Harassing phone calls represent 50% of FTC complaints. The number of individuals acting immorally or illegally is small in comparison to the millions of actual contact attempts. Those who resell must hold each other to a high standard in the secondary markets. The number of complaints can be mitigated by focusing on those who are recognized association members, and by performing due diligence on buyers and their business practices.
- Data security is vital. Become SSAE 16 and PCI compliant and have more issuers require these assurances in order to transact business.
- The regulatory focus on banks has led to decreased availability of paper for many agencies and debt buyers. Establishing solid practices for vendor management and resale will reward the entire industry
For a somewhat casual report of the conference, see Phillip Duff of Lighthouse Consulting in his unique video. He covers everything from what was going on in the hotel bars, to his take on the lack of industry confidence, to how attendees were asking “Where’s Waldo [the debt]?”
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by Nancy Lender