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Expert Advice from the Top 30 Collection Technology Thought Leaders

thought leadersThe accounts receivable industry thrives on innovation of method and technology. This innovation first takes form in the minds of thought leaders. Collection Advisor reached out to industry leaders and colleagues to gather nominations for technology/service providers in the collection industry that strive to work side by side with professionals to improve the industry’s efficiency and the country’s economy.

To qualify, executive officers of collection technology vendors were asked to provide advice for collection professionals and respond to candid questions from Collection Advisor Editor T. Steel Rose. Their insight will allow collection professionals to do more with less. Rose learned about collection performance rates in Europe, clear-your-name Festivals in Brazil and many other collection insights to be covered in a later issue.

The following are the Top 30 Technology Thought Leaders of 2018. In light of recent changes in many Americans’ paychecks, leadership from each of the following partners are asked:

What advice would you offer accounts receivable professionals as take-home pay has increased for 90% of American consumers due to tax changes?

pollin robert2AUTOSCRIBE CORPORATION
ROBERT POLLIN | President & CEO

“Providing consumers with self-serve payment options has grown significantly – with more than two-thirds of Americans in the US leveraging digital banking and payment channels. Online payment portals and automated phone systems enable accounts receivable professionals to be more efficient and encourage consumers to self-service their debts as disposable income increases.” Pollin added, “There is a reprieve in the heavy handed approach from the CFPB.”

mohr thomasBEAM SOFTWARE
THOMAS MOHR | CEO

“I suggest that collection agents learn and understand how the federal tax-withholding guidelines affect them personally. Using that knowledge, collectors can educate consumers on how they can actually afford to pay any higher amounts the collector will be asking them to pay. It should be used on the talk-off side to ask for higher payments on monthly payments.”

sturans edzBILLINGTREE
EDGARS “EDZ” STURANS | CEO and President

“Consumers will likely take advantage of extra funds for new purchases. Their ability to pay will not necessarily increase their interest in paying off past debt. Since consumers will have better cash flow, offering payment plan options along with multiple payment channels, including self-serve options, should increase overall payment volumes.” Sturans added, ”The interactive website can be very helpful especially for millennials.”

ripa johnCASTEL COMMUNICATIONS
JOHN RIPA | President

“During customer conversations, accounts receivable professionals should strategically present favorable take-home pay and tax changes as opportunities to accelerate debt relief. Speech analytics should ensure tax-related dialogue occurs during live conversations. Call scoring and keyword spotting should determine which tax-related conversations and keywords produce the most collections revenue. You could pop a script based on the words.”

kim jeffersonCDS SOFTWARE
JEFFERSON K. KIM | President

“You should be cautious making long-term spending plans based on next year’s revenues from tax changes. Tax code changes can be reversed. A great possibility however is investing in something now that will lead to future savings or efficiencies, such as a new software platform or employee training and development. The predicative dialer is interesting because even if the dialer regulation eases up, the way people use their phones has evolved. They may not pick up their phone at all, but after an initial consent, text messaging becomes more common.”

tabouelle laurentCODIX
LAURENT TABOUELLE | Executive VP

“Review collection strategies for certain segments of consumers. Modify strategies utilizing flexible technologies. Utilizing AI based on statistical data is gaining momentum to profile debtors and optimize the strategies. Along with business process modeling technologies and easy payment mechanisms through debtor web portals, the CPR [collection performance rate] will keep going up.” Tabouelle added, ”In continental Europe, for example, the CPR is 70% for agencies, 60% for banks and 30% for utilities."

kaul ajayCOGENT
AJAY KAUL | President

“This 90% of Americans will derive benefit but they have to anticipate to be potentially being under-withheld for tax year 2018 thus owing money later. Accounts receivable professionals should consult consumers and negotiate payment terms or make more effective wage garnishments.”

shulzeCOMTECH SYSTEMS INC.
FRITZ SCHULZE | President

“As the U.S. economy improves, AR professionals have a better opportunity to increase cash flows by taking advantage of new applications and technology available from suppliers who provide automation and contact plans that are both effective and compliant at price points never before available. Customization is key.”

dantzler jeff2COMTRONIC SYSTEMS
JEFF DANTZLER | President

“Agencies must continue to leverage all forms of outbound contacts, messaging and payment portal options, while at the same time reducing security risks by moving their collection platforms to the cloud where their cloud partners can offer best-in-class security standards. It has been a century of manipulation of data and security breaches like Expedia, Russia or North Korea. The best way to partner is with someone like Microsoft Azure in the cloud. Focus on dealing with the issues in the cloud, which reduces the expense. The workstations remain the same.”

pridemore mattCORNERSTONE SUPPORT, INC.
MATT PRIDEMORE | Principal

“The tax changes on the personal side along with rising wages and full employment have led to consumer confidence levels we haven’t seen in over a decade. That coupled with the changes in leadership at the CFPB have made this a great time to invest in the ARM industry. There is a change in energy, more start ups in the last nine months than in the last six years.”

briganti carlCSS IMPACT
CARL BRIGANTI | President & CEO

“This anticipated increase will have competing attention from consumers as they make decisions as how to use the extra cash. In a way, this is an extended “tax season” and AR professionals should deploy the same strategies that are typically limited to “tax season” in order to compete for the additional earnings. Tactics which improve payments include targeting the right dials using real-time, propensity to pay, waterfall data and SMS text campaigns.”

bacon alexanderEFT NETWORK, INC.
ALEXANDER R. BACON | President

“Additional ‘cash in consumers’ pockets,” that would presumably be available for debt re-payment (among other things), will vary significantly based on their gross income level, state of residency and whether the person owns a home. Be mindful of the tax benefit, but stick to your basics on collections strategies!”

platt steveEXPERIAN
STEVE PLATT | Group President

“For years, the industry has talked about right channel, right time and right offer. But, now it’s a reality. Businesses can access data and technology to gain insights about customers and communicate with them on a personal level by assessing their ability to pay, ultimately preserving the long-term relationship. There is a fervent desire to understand the view of the financial position of the consumer.”

adams garyINNOVATIVE E-PAY SOLUTIONS
GARY ADAMS | President

“This increase represents small amounts of extra cash per paycheck, not a lump sum like previous tax rebates. ARM Professionals will benefit by actively encouraging payment plans! Automated solutions provide 24/7 convenience to the debtor, ensuring the highest possible payment while reducing overall compliance exposure and cost to the agency.”

hill matthewINTERPROSE
MATTHEW HILL | President/CEO

“My advise would be to continue to apply industry best practices when communicating with consumers. Fair and compassionate treatment will always yield the best results regardless of the economic climate. It makes a win-win-win, for the client, the consumer and the agency. If the climate is on the upswing then improved collection results will be a natural by product.”

dunlap james2LARIAT SOFTWARE
JAMES DUNLAP | CEO

“Be prepared. The ARM industry requires ARM professionals to be prepared to adapt to changes in the market. Favorable market conditions are not advantageous unless you are prepared to capitalize them. The primary focus should always be on improving core competencies as they define success.” Dunlap added, “The ARM industry is no stranger to ups and downs. Adaptability is the key”

brown thomasLEXISNEXIS
THOMAS C. BROWN | Senior Vice President, U.S. Commercial Markets and Global Market Development, LexisNexis Risk Solutions

“Getting to the right consumer quickly and in a compliant fashion are the most critical factors for collectors. Understanding the financial well-being of the consumer also is important so that a collector can customize repayment. Indicators like employment, liens, judgments, bankruptcy, property and other alternative data elements provide deeper insights. There has not been a dramatic change in paying down debt based on the tax break.”

brooks jonathanLOCATESMARTER
JONATHAN BROOKS | President

“Although take-home pay has increased, there’s still outstanding debt. Skip trace data needs to be accurate and excess data must be reduced to improve phone penetration, right-party contacts and dollars collected. The faster you reach a consumer, the less competition you’re likely to have – making payment recovery easier.” Brooks added, “Not just phone numbers, we are constantly analyzing the data.”

goodnight keithMICROBILT
KEITH GOODNIGHT | SVP, Product Development & Management

"Implement smarter data strategies to identify those most affected by tax rates. More money will increase consumers’ moving status, so monitoring address and phone changes will help maintain contact. Also, use collectability scoring strategies to prioritize collection resources on consumers realizing higher paychecks before others claim the additional income.”

flood jeffONECLICK-DATA
JEFF FLOOD | Director

“As consumers have more income it is a great time to focus on their employment, finding where they work and communicate with them at work or go for a garnishment since consumers have basically gotten a raise and thus are probably going to stay longer with their current employer. With a better job they may stay put and be easier to locate.”

deatherage chad2PAYMENT SAVVY
CHAD DEATHERAGE | CEO

“The more a consumer realizes resolving a debt will bring peace of mind, the more eager one is to pay. Having compliant, responsive and emphatic agents on your team is the key to bringing in top-dollar revenues and taking advantage of the new tax law.”

singh manpreetPAYSCOUT
MANPREET SINGH | President

“Tax breaks mean consumers have more disposable income to apply to outstanding accounts, but it’s important for ARM professionals to provide frictionless bill payment options. Payment portals allow consumers to set bill payments online - or via IVR - through an easy, convenient, self-service platform.” Singh added, “New technology from Visa will ensure a card number is never visible.”

dharmaraja ranjanQUANTRAX
RANJAN DHARMARAJA | CEO

“Consumers will not voluntarily pay their bills because they have extra money. They still need to be contacted and persuaded to pay. This is not your father’s business! Today’s collections is all about change and old technology is not going to address the millennial paradox, mobile technology, the need for AI, chatbots, automation or analytics. For dealing with the millennial paradox who don’t want to answer the phone, Quantrax deployed a collection robot. It recognizes several languages, determines balance and has an intelligent engine for settlements.”

telford johnREVSPRING
JOHN TELFORD | President of Financial Services

"Given ongoing wage stagnation, an increase in take home pay will be helpful to individuals striving to meet their financial obligations. Agencies should engage consumers using omni-channel communication and payment solutions that create a positive experience by making it easier to fulfill obligations in a convenient, compliant and secure manner. It is not just a millennial, consumers are over the fear of dealing with computers. It is a mass consumer swing. Customers want an interactive experience."

hornung danROYDAN
DAN HORNUNG | President

“Many accounts receivable items are collected from a socio-economic segment that may not be representative of this statistic. Determining a consumer’s ability to pay should always be the top priority for any accounts receivable professional. Their tax situation, especially during tax season, is always an important part of the equation.” Hornung added, “You need to determine their communication style and adapt to it; and that is not trivial.”

roberts chrisSENTINEL DEVELOPMENT SOLUTIONS, INC. [ECOLLECTIONS]
CHRIS J. ROBERTS | President/Chief Operating Officer

“Because margins are already thin, my advice to ARM professionals would be to take a look at all of your existing business processes and see how automation (workflows) and automated collections practices (consumer portals) can reduce the need for human intervention during the collection process, thus further reducing costs. The more a collection operation can collect in a fully automated fashion the better.”

campbell chrisSIMPLICITY COLLECTION SOFTWARE
CHRIS CAMPBELL | CEO

“Automation! Find solutions to help you automate current processes and jump on collecting new accounts quicker. Quickly addressing new accounts and easily moving accounts between collection and AR processes in an automated fashion ensures that you are able to capitalize on and close out profitable accounts quicker without increasing overhead. Have software identify those who are going to make payments and are going to continue to stay on a payment plan.”

bird terrelTCN, INC.
TERREL BIRD | CEO and Co-Founder

“We believe accounts receivable professionals should recommend consumers be fiscally conservative with their incoming cash flow and prudent with their spending habits. As more money comes into consumers’ take-home pay, we believe they should save and diversify their incoming revenue and be weary of quick and easy marketing ploys.” Bird added, “Business intelligence permits management to see every aspect of a call.”

gies paulVOAPPS
PAUL GIES | President

“Get notices of consumers’ debts out around common paydays to be top of mind when the extra money comes. The quality of the call is better because they are calling back to get resolution. Our clients have immense success delivering voicemails on the 1st, 15th, 30th and Fridays so they are top of mind when the consumer has time to call and make a payment.”

gordon jackWEBRECON LLC
JACK GORDON | CEO

“I’m not usually one to give advice on how to collect money as I wasn’t particularly good at it. But it’s tough to go wrong when striving to be the one collector above all others that a consumer wants to pay. Always be respectful, positive, helpful and authentic with consumers. There is the great convergence of a great economy and a more favorable compliance environment.

7 Changes in Insurance You Can't Afford to Miss

Insurance is not normally the first thing on collection professionals’ minds. However, in the event of an “occurrence,” worried thoughts may circle a professionals mind regarding whether or not correct decisions were made when selecting a policy. Here are seven areas a proactive collection professional should know for their company’s protection.

johnson ben1 “You’ve seen the myriad of news stories about data breaches across various business sectors,” said Ben Johnson, director of risk management – insurance at Cornerstone Support. “Credit grantors are requiring their partner collection agencies to obtain cyber liability/data breach coverage more than ever before, and the required limits continue to increase as well. But here is some good news: The cost to purchase cyber liability insurance has dropped drastically in the past year, due in part to increased competition from various insurers entering the marketplace. That pendulum will eventually swing back toward higher premiums if some carriers experience data breach claims in our industry, making this the optimal time to get insured. In terms of the coverage, cyber insurance carriers are now offering more comprehensive policy features for various claim scenarios involving hacking, fines, business interruption, cyber crime and more.”

Not only will the industry, and in turn, clients and vendors change, regulation will continue to evolve. This evolution can create new requirements for insurance and licensing needs.

st.martin janis2 “Our licensing and bond areas are preparing their clients for Wyoming’s transition to the National Multistate Licensing System this summer as announced earlier this year, said Janis St. Martin, CIC, vice president of Collectors Insurance Agency. “It is also notable that we have seen a significant increase in requests for new or additional licensing. This is a reliable indicator of industry growth.

3 “We are monitoring developing TCPA litigation to determine what impact ACA International’s recent win over the FCC will have. It is really important that agencies continue to employ sound and defensible TCPA loss prevention procedures. We are working closely with our dedicated and expert attorneys to stay on top of the issue for our insured members.

4 “The insurance marketplace has shifted a bit with additional carriers pulling out of the collection segment. This is always of concern as the number of acceptable carriers that provide adequate errors & omissions is finite. Without sustainable competition, negotiating terms can become increasingly challenging for everyone. Lastly, when considering a non-admitted carrier, agencies should review their client’s contractual insurance requirements as many will include carrier rating and solvency standards.”

Even if you did your homework and your agency was ironclad in its coverage and licensing, changes can bring about gaps in coverage that can be discovered through regular auditing and inspection.

5 “Read your errors & omissions policy carefully – especially the definitions and exclusions sections,” said Johnson. “Endorsements amend the wording in the base policy form, and may contain exclusions or restrictions for consumer protection laws such as the TCPA, or for any class action claims. Does the policy cover defense and settlement costs? Does the carrier place a sublimit on consumer protection laws? Is there an amended deductible for class action claims?

6 “The most common gap to watch for in a cyber liability policy is an exclusion or sublimit for breach notification costs. All 50 states now have data breach notification laws, and the cost could be staggering for companies with high numbers of records stored in their system. Cyber liability carriers sometimes restrict notification costs to lower premiums, but it is important to make sure you are not underinsured for this critical line item on the policy.”

If your research reveals your agency needs to move to another insurance carrier, that is all the more reason to examine paperwork closely. Rarely is a coverage provider a seamless match from the previous.

7 “‘Claims made’ E&O coverage is extremely difficult to move to new carriers without creating gaps in coverage,” said St. Martin. “In-depth coverage comparisons should be offered well in advance of a move to a new carrier. Poorly drafted coverage terms can and do result in a denial of coverage. Regardless, agencies should use their coverage renewal as an opportunity to identify any new services they may be offering or any additional compliance measures that may be needed.”

On the Forefront of TCPA-Compliant Technology

In its ongoing effort to stay on the forefront of developments in debt collection technology, Collection Advisor talks to Rick Morris, president of CallEvo. Morris discusses the challenges of today’s compliance standards and makes recommendations on how to remain TCPA compliant while maintaining productivity.

What is a current challenge in debt collection industry?

In recent months, we have seen a consistent question that to many, is their single most challenge, “How can I maintain my call volume and while remaining TCPA compliant?”

What do you see as a solution to this challenge?

We believe there are always options to address any regulatory challenge. The most effective option is the one that solves it without interrupting the business process and affecting operating costs while employing new software to resolve the regulatory change. We have seen the industry adopt business process changes, such as mobile number management and scrubbing. We have also seen the separation of mobile and home phone numbers for calling purposes; and the industry deploy multiple calling platforms expanding costs, slowing productivity, and increasing the risk of other compliance violations for recording management and time zone violations. In the end, the right place to solve TCPA is at the source of the regulation – predictive dialing. Our technology replaces predictive dialing with the only platform that eliminates the capacity to make automated calls while growing the overall outbound call volume of even the largest agencies.

Where have you recently seen significant progress in collection practice or technology?

As a technology vendor, the landscape of technology vendors is more diverse than I can ever remember. The result is new companies like CallEvo who are creating replacement products for industry standard technology that offer superior technology at affordable prices. Taking advantage of new platforms and churning outdated vendors is a huge opportunity for collection practices.

What do you see as a mistake collection professionals make?

Having been around the industry for 20 years, I have noticed there is some reluctance to really embrace new technology as a key contributor to the overall strategy of a collections operation. New software companies are an integral part of the collections ecosystem pushing incumbent providers to enhance their technology and keep up with evolving standards.

Larger software companies struggle once they reach substantial size as existing employees and customer bases are a large part of their focus. They can struggle building new products on new technologies as their developers, support teams, and exiting customers adapt to new technology. Much like a large ship in water, changes have to be made carefully and slowly so the passengers on board don’t end up falling off the boat. On the other hand, newer companies have the freedom to adopt and innovate quickly to give their customers a competitive advantage.

What do you suggest collection professionals do to avoid this mistake?

Companies should take the time to evaluate their keystone technologies on a regular basis. Any company or technology platform that is over three years old should be critically evaluated as it may be outdated. It may not be necessary to perform wholesale changes but rather augment existing technology to enhance the overall performance of the operation. Keep in mind, the goal of every software company is to keep their customer base and entice them to renew support. You should remain skeptical of on-going promises of “next generation” technology they may claim to be developing. As the rate of technology changes year after year, collections professionals can quickly find their processes and infrastructure outdated waiting for current vendors to resolve their software development issues. There is no doubt that change can sometimes result in pain but it is the greatest opportunity for increased productivity and lower costs.

What are some recent developments with CallEvo?

Replacing predictive dialers and eliminating TCPA violations is our only focus. In our opinion, every collections industry professional has the right and the desire to be compliant. We also understand they have basic needs for production and call volume. You cannot have compliance without adequate production. We understand the needs of our collections partners better than anyone and our product solves their most significant concerns around compliance and production.

What do you see occurring in the future?

At the rate TCPA violations are occurring and the rate at which lawsuits are being filed, we see TCPA suits being the single largest suit category in less than three years. At this point, there is no question that the law is not going away and the time to solve TCPA is now. We see our software as the most impactful calling platform in the collections industry since the introduction of the predictive dialer.

Prevent Windows 10 Spying

According to a recent article by CPA J. Carlton Collins in the Journal of Accountancy, your Windows 10 software could be recording your every keystroke and word spoken within earshot. This recording of activity was initially an attempt to troubleshoot glitches. However, the feature was maintained for the software’s final release.

To check if Microsoft is tracking your computing activity and disable this feature, go to the Windows 10 Start menu, select Settings, Privacy, and then select the Speech, Inking, & Typing option. If the option reads “Stop getting to know me,” click this option to disable recording. If the option reads “Get to know me,” the recording feature is already disabled on your computer.

Disabling this function clears any keystroke, voice, and handwriting data files recorded on your computer and prevents future recording activities.

Required Documentation for Buying or Selling Debt

Due to the lack of formal proposed rules from the CFPB, which would provide much-needed clarity in the receivables management industry, the Receivables Management Association (formerly DBA International) is forced to look for guidance elsewhere. This must be done to provide industry participants with guidance to ensure compliance with regulators and policymakers at both the state and federal level. It is the philosophy and guiding principle of RMA to work with the entities that oversee the industry to achieve appropriate consumer protection without putting up artificial barriers to the collection of legitimate contractual obligations (debt).

This article provides guidance on documentation. At the most basic level, the purpose of documentation is to ensure that one is collecting a debt from the right consumer and for the correct amount. While there are many ways to ensure these two items, standards are both needed and desired.

To this end, developing the documentation standard for the RMA certification program included scouring state laws and regulations, CFPB consent orders, as well as guidelines from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to glean their expectations. The current standard includes items that must be obtained as well as items that are desirable. The standard has gone through many changes, but today, in version 5.0, it requires:

Required Data & Documents for Receivable

When purchasing or selling receivables, a Certified Company shall obtain or provide at the time of the transaction the following account-related information:

1. The consumer’s first and last name.

2. The consumer’s Social Security number or other government issued identification number, if obtained by the creditor.

3. Consumer’s address at Charge-Off.

4. The creditor’s name at Charge-Off.

5. The creditor’s address at Charge-Off.

6. A copy of the signed contract or other account level document(s) that were transmitted to the consumer while the account was active that provides evidence of the relevant consumer’s liability for the debt in question. Other documents may include, but are not limited to, a copy of the most recent terms and conditions or a copy of the last activity statement showing a purchase transaction, service billed, payment, or balance transfer.

7. The account number at Charge-Off.

8. The unpaid balance due on the account, with a breakdown of the post- Charge-Off Balance, interest, fees, payments, and creditor/owner authorized credits or adjustments.

9. The date and amount of the consumer’s last payment, provided a payment was made.

10. Sufficient information to calculate the dates of account delinquency and Default.

11. The date of Charge-Off.

12. The balance at Charge-Off.

13. A copy of a statement that reflects the Charge-Off Balance.

14. A copy of each bill of sale or other document evidencing the transfer of ownership of the debt from the initial sale by the Charge-Off creditor to each successive owner that when reviewed in its totality provides a complete and unbroken chain of title documenting the name, address, and dates of ownership of the creditor and each subsequent owner up to and including the Certified Company.

In addition to the aforementioned required items, purchasers should use commercially reasonable efforts to obtain, if available:

1. If there was a legal change in the consumer’s name during the life of the account, the prior name(s) used on the account.

2. The consumer’s date of birth. 3. The consumer’s last known telephone number.

4. Consumer’s last known email address.

5. The store or brand name associated with the account at Charge-Off.

6. The opening date of the account.

7. Pre-Charge-Off account number(s) used by the creditor (and, if appropriate, its predecessors) to identify the consumer’s account if different than the Charge-Off account number.

8. Such other information it deems necessary to substantiate in a court of law the legal obligation, the identity of the person owing the legal obligation, and an accurate balance owed on the legal obligation.

While the standard is written for the purchase and sale of debt, it should be noted that anyone collecting on behalf of a Certified Debt Buyer needs to either be Certified or meet the standards of Certification (Vendor Management Standard) and quite frankly, it is best practice. Therefore, it is truly an industry standard that, when universally adopted, will undoubtedly go a long way to clean up the industry and provide necessary consumer protection.


Mark Naiman is President/CEO of Absolute Resolutions Corp., an active debt-buying company, and currently serves as President on the Board of Directors for Receivables Management Association.

Jan Stieger, CAE, serves as Executive Director of Receivables Management Association the trade association representing nearly 550 member organizations in the accounts receivable industry.