Mike McDonnell

Mike McDonnell

2014 is already shaping into a year of change for many in the Accounts Receivable space. From the CFPB’s soon-to-be-released rules for credit and collection agencies to the USPS announcing an exigent postage increase, agencies must proactively analyze, improve and even change how their organization is currently run. As the ARM industry gears up for another great year, here are a few important goals to consider in 2014.

1. Go Digital

On Dec. 24, 2013 the Postal Regulatory Commission approved a USPS mail rate increase which takes effect on January 26, 2014. Online payment portals, email communication delivery, outbound IVR call campaigns, and text messaging are options currently available in the market and can help satiate the need to quickly deploy an electronic communication program in order to dramatically reduce costs. Many of these technology tools can be seamlessly added to existing online payment portals, allowing agencies to quickly launch opt-in and opt-out programs as part of an on-going strategy to remain compliant while sending electronic communications. The net result is improved customer service, a better consumer experience, and a reduction in costs.

2. Conduct Annual Reviews

Performing an annual review with key vendors and technology partners should be a high priority for all ARM businesses. In a 2012 bulletin, the CFPB made it clear that supervised organizations are held responsible for the ability of third, and even fourth, party service providers to meet the applicable legal and security requirements. More recently, The Federal Reserve Board released guidance for financial institutions to exercise appropriate risk management and oversight when using external service providers. A few key steps the CFPB recommended for supervised organizations can be found here.

3. Improve Consumer Data

CFPB’s complaint intake tool produced a compelling observation: collectors are chasing the wrong person. A broad suite of data hygiene tools that are often easy to deploy are available to agencies. These data tools can scrub existing consumer data files as well as identify and suppress undeliverable and unnecessary documents with the goal of reducing your overall costs. As the national conversation about consumer data continues, and as more consumers have the resources to voice their concerns regarding debt situations, agencies should look to data tools and analytics to improve the accuracy of their consumer communications.

4. Increase Your Expertise

Martin Sher brought up a great point in his piece for InsideARM, suggesting that if you’re a creditor in any industry it is worth reading the CFPB’s Advance Notice for Proposed Rulemaking in its 114-page entirety, looking specifically at how it’s organized and what type of questions were asked by the CFPB. According to Sher, the questions poised encompass nearly all of the issues of the credit and collection industry. Perhaps this can serve as a blueprint of what is to come when the CFPB issues their new rules for credit and collections in the very near future?

2014 will be a watershed year for the ARM industry. By achieving these four goals, your organization will be off to a great start related to compliant consumer communication.

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