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Solving Miserable Uncertainty

  • Written by Harry A. Strausser III

mug strausserWe have addressed numerous topics in this column over the past five years. Our goal has been to share ideas of common concern among operators at all levels of the collections industry. As the industry becomes more and more complicated, frustrations continue to mount for those who own, manage and supervise in collection offices across the country. There is a frequent concern about the fact that “we don’t know what we don’t know.” That is the dynamic that keeps us up at night. It is very difficult to keep tabs on the ever-changing landscape but we are fortunate to have many resources available to assist with keeping our operations up to date on important matters. We just have to make a commitment to expend the time and resources required.

Much to my dismay there are many operators that keep their heads in the sand and blindly plod forward hoping to “get things right.” That culture will no longer keep a firm from eventually sinking. We have to be proactive and search out the education required to assist with the navigation of turbulent waters of change. I was reading an article recently that shared a quote by Mark Twain in which he proclaimed, “Education: the path from cocky ignorance to miserable uncertainty.” That phrase, “miserable uncertainty” seems to be very appropriate in defining the state of our industry. What assistance do we have?

Trade Associations

Virtually every industry has a trade association that represents their best interests and carries the torch relative to legislative agendas. We are very fortunate to have ACA International (www.acainternational.org) as a resource for credit and collection professionals. I realize most of our readers are aware of ACA but this is a reminder that there is no better place to secure the information you need in our industry. ACA offers many educational programs via webinar formats and presents the Spring Forum, Fall Forum and the large national convention every summer. Far too few take advantage of these programs. Additionally, there are 40 chapters/units of ACA if you would like involvement on the state or regional level. Many of these units offer annual meetings and joint conferences with other chapters.

If you have interests in the debt purchase market, DBA International (www.dbainternaional.org) offers specific direction and advice to those in that sector. DBA International provides its members with extensive networking, educational, and business development opportunities in asset classes that span numerous industries. The association publishes a bi-annual magazine and newsletter, provides educational and networking opportunities at major forums, events and conferences, represents the membership before federal and state agencies, and supports the industry where appropriate in appellate cases. They offer a popular conference in Las Vegas every February.

Regional Meetings

One of the most popular regional collection conferences is the Northeast Debt Collection Expo often held in Atlantic City in September/October annually. They offer a great educational platform, networking with industry peers and attendance by well know speakers. You can find more information on the NEDCE at http://nyscollect.org/events.html.

Other Industry Conferences/Resources

Inside ARM: Publishing since 2000, insideARM has amassed an engaged audience of executives within collection agencies and law firms, debt buyers, creditors, suppliers of technology and services, regulators, investors, and other interested parties. (www.insidearm.com)

Debt Connection Symposium and Expo: With collections, compliance, and accountability as their educational focus, the conference is geared for collections, recovery, and debt sales professionals from creditors, healthcare, collection agencies, collection attorney firms, credit unions, debt buyers, and related industry vendors. (www.debtconnectionsymposium.com)

The resources above are just a sampling of the many educational opportunities in our industry. As a reader/subscriber to Collection Advisor we know you rely on the timely content of this publication for vital industry advice and updates. Every firm or collection department should have a firm line item on their P&L statement allotting resources for key management to get the best education possible. Miserable uncertainty may define our current culture as an industry but you have control of the power of education in your organization.

We encourage our readers to submit a “best practice” idea for inclusion in this column. Until next time, I’m in a collection office near you!


Harry A. Strausser III is president of Remit Corporation/ Interact Training & Development. Contact him at harry@ remitcorp.com.