My thoughts and opinions for the recent NARCA conference

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Many people look to see what my observations from each conference I attend the ones that did not attend want to see what they missed and the ones that did attend desire confirmation of their observations. So here are my thoughts and opinions after leaving NARCA Fall Conference in Las Vegas.
The primary theme is important for each conference and its been compliance and loss of profits over the last few events. Well that has given way to talk of mergers and partnerships. Compliance is now a reoccurring theme and is considered to be here to stay and has now taken a second seat to the fact that issuers are trying to consolidate their networks. The issuers and placers of debt are driving the consolidation within the legal collections market. As they desire to reduce the risk of compliance to fewer firms the smart firms are becoming multi state and growing in size by buying or merging with others.
Many of these mergers are lateral, meaning that little or no money is exchanged. The firm in MO decides they need to be licensed in NE and IA and merges with a firm in that state. This will continue for the next 3 years leaving 12-15 firms with most of the national legal collections.
Compliance is now the norm for each firm and just a cost of doing business. The talk is now about how to drive compliance most efficiently. The next step that few firms have made it to is the question “ How do we prove our staff is complaint to the rules?”. How do we use the data collected to increase compliance and collections.
“How do we analyze our firm and make adjustments” is a big question. In my opinion this is very difficult with current legal software systems and that fact is driving firms to look for other solutions like Quantrax or newly built systems. The ability to have a user defined system allows the firms to make adjustments on the fly and without the cost of custom programming. All systems will head this way over the next 5 years in my opinion but many firms are trying to get ahead of the curve with new technology today and not waiting on new versions of software to be developed and honed into great systems.
One of the questions I am ask often is what should I be paying my staff, am I overpaying my staff, how do I reward my staff? These questions are based on your profitability and firm structure but the answer is yes your overpaying all your staff that have been there over 10 years. Yes all of them, lawyers and paralegals…
What does the future hold for YOU? Well that depends on what your doing now, if its just waiting and holding on you will be out of the picture in 3 years or an employee of another firm. If your making big strides to move forward and not just meet or outrun the industry changes you will be standing at the end and standing tall. If you do not have a clear strategic plan for the next quarter, year and decade you are not likely to survive. If you just saying I can’t afford to do this to that your right cause you will be left behind, only the aggressive will survive and thrive in the new collection industry.
If you need help to survive and thrive call me. But do it now. No really right now 904-687-1687 ask for Phil Duff!

What makes you feel the most scared in todays ARM industry?

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What makes you feel the most scared in todays ARM industry?

a) Your Collectors
If your concerned that your staff will make mistakes that will require you to be scared then you need to better train or monitor them. The best answer is training and development programs that build a talented and loyal staff. It is also very important to help the staff to understand the industry not just their jobs, Have them spend a few minutes  a day on Inside ARM or similar sites to better understand the industry as a whole. If your staff is completely out of contrail you may need techno;ogg that can detect voice inflections and key words to help you manage the staff.
b) CFPB
If your concerns are CFPB thats a real concern and there are many things you should be doing to combat this concern. I suggest you have an outside compliance attorney or consultant evaluate your business for possible breaches and act on those recommendations at a minimum. If are very concerned then its time to head the certification route. There are several vendors that can help you with this large project, call me for recommendations.
c) Consumer lawyers
Chances are if your answering A your also conceded about C. if you are doing all you can do as a agency or firm you should begin to see a decree in consumer lawyer complaints and if the CFPB is effective they should also create a reduction in this category
d) Loss of profits

No matter which answer you provided loss of profits are part of the new ARM industry. The trick now is to be as efficient as possible to use technology to help collect money. By using payment sites that can negate with the debtors and automating as many processes as possible you can gain some of those profits back.

e) Competition
If your not doing all the suggestions in this short article you better be worried about the competition.

f) Technology
This is the biggest opportunity to be profitable and complaint in todays market and industry. Automate processes, embrace technology to replace as many staff activities as possible. Spend lots of effort looking for better solutions. Do not say no to technology because it has a cost attached.
g) other
Please let me know what bothers you at phil@oakleyduff.com