It appears that we have all been gifted with front-row seats in the stirring movie, “Global Financial Meltdown.” Riveting, wouldn’t you say?

If there were to be an Academy Award ceremony for the debt collection industry for our key supporting role in the economic meltdown, there would also have to be a category for “Best Guy (or Gal) in the Role of Bill Collector.”

Of the hundreds of thousands of people in the debt collection world, I wonder how the candidates would be selected.  Most aggressive?  Greatest number of dollars collected in a Quarter?  Largest numbers of files closed?  Volume of phone calls made?  Most/fewest countersuits and/or FTC complaints created?

Would anyone laugh (in the participating audience of debtors, that is) if “Good Guy” was determined to be the title most applauded and sought after?  The answer, in this present economy and an environment in which more than 400 lawsuits were filed against collection agencies and creditors the first half of January this year and almost 14,000 lawsuits filed in 2010, is surely “yes.”

For those in this industry, this is not a laughing matter.

Any scenario showing a “Good Guy” bill collector – if public perception rules – would have to be located under “Fantasy.”  Why, oh why, are collection professionals allowing this perception to rule?  How has the game been rigged so that only the bad guys are noticed?

In this admittedly fictitious night-of-stars scenario, let me offer a candidate who just might turn the audience around – Steven Gan.  Steven is President of Stellar Risk Management Services, Inc. in Northbrook, Ill.  He titles himself, rightly, as a commercial credit insurance specialist and credit risk management consultant, but is, bone-deep, a bill collector.

How did I come about choosing Steven for his performance as “Good Guy” when there are certainly so many of you to choose from?  That, in itself, may be instructive…especially for others in the industry who work so hard to be noticed (read: appreciated and paid well).

I first came across Steven via Social Media.  Or, he came across me when he read an earlier blog of mine for  It was a controversial piece, if I remember, and his was a lone voice of balance and respect.  Balance and respect.  Now, that’s notable in itself.

He didn’t stop with a simple remark on the blog column – he then sought me out as a connection on LinkedIn and then accepted my invitation to join my non-public group, Finance Wisdom 3.0.  I am always pitifully grateful for the attention, and was motivated to begin researching Steven and his background.

Career professional?  Check.  Certified Credit Executive?  Check.

What moved Steven into the “leading contender” for the interview, however, are the above-and-beyond notches in his belt.

His body of work includes the additional history of having been a corporate controller, earning an MBA, and qualifying as a CPA.  Not to forget that he qualifies for the “foreign” category, having lived in Japan for 15 years – 12 of these as president of his own firm, Advance & Associates.  That firm was the first company to create and implement the before and after sales total credit risk management product line system in Japan.

Another check – out of that experience came a book he wrote (did I mention he was fluent in Japanese?), “The Blue Eyed Debt Collector, His Struggle,” which sold over 20,000 copies there.

More checks to his credit – degrees, foreign travel, multi-lingual and entrepreneurial.  However, these accomplishments do not guarantee the award of “Good Guy.”  Decide for yourself.  Let me now invite the Academy (subscribers to insideARM and members of the ACA, I would think) to listen in on my interview with Steven.

As an informed voter, keep a pen handy to note the differences that set Steven apart in this industry.  After you hear his views on debtor treatment, alternative approaches to collect, avenues offered for payment, and his complaints about the industry, would you – as a member of the “Academy” – vote for him, or her?

Listen in at:

A question I might ask you, as a member of this august group.  If there were an evening of bright lights and acclaim for superior performance in debt collection – would you and your body of work enable you to make your way up to the podium?  The collectors in your firm?  Really?

The envelope, please…

Next Article: Executive Change: Gila Group Appoints Peter Kanjorski ...