Mike Ginsberg

Last week, hundreds gathered at the Four Seasons in Las Vegas for Collection and Recovery Solutions 2011.  I thought the Hammonds (Judy and Dennis) and their team of pros did a great job assembling a sizeable group of credit grantors, including many “first timers,” who came together for the latest in recovery strategy, to bone up on some industry trends, meet with their vendors, network, and of course drink and gamble.

In talking with Judy, I learned that more creditors than ever attended, which tells me that budgets are loosening up to allow for recovery managers to travel and attend trade shows, a positive sign if you ask me.

The main reason I attend CRS and other trade shows throughout the year is to talk to as many industry professionals as possible.  Here’s what I walked away thinking:

  • The number one concern among recovery managers remains headline risk and compliance, not increasing recoveries or getting a little more from a debt sale. Much like college basketball and football coaches, grantors fear their vendors will be accused of violating a rule and wind up in the headlines or in the line of fire of a state’s Attorney General.
  • Quite a few recovery managers are anticipating improved economic conditions in the second half of 2011 in spite of a slight uptick in unemployment rates.  They site significant improvement in recoveries in the second half of Q1 (March was a record-breaking month for many) and think these results will be somewhat sustainable beyond tax season, although results dropped somewhat in April.
  • Debt sales continue to be strong since Q3 2010 with competitive pricing and improved financing among a growing number of debt buyers.
  • Exhibitors who don’t man their booth shouldn’t bother exhibiting.
  • CRS is a credit grantor focused conference.  The goal of making this event worthwhile for the grantor was not only apparent, but it was also accomplished.
  • CRS should coordinate some peer group roundtable discussions so recovery managers focused on a particular sector can get together and talk shop (without colluding on pricing of course).

Judy and her team do a great job of controlling the number of attendees by turning away registrants and limiting the number of individuals manning each booth.  Everyone knows that Judy and her team are running a for-profit business and not a charity, but they are focused on making this an intimate conference so recovery managers feel comfortable walking the exhibit halls and attending the sessions without being bombarded by unscrupulous salespeople.

But it was not surprising that the bars on the resort grounds were filled with hangers-on that were not registered to attend the conference.  There is really no way to avoid it, so I guess I should just get over it and move on.

I hope that Judy keeps this conference at the Four Seasons. It is a great hotel and I find it refreshing not having to walk through the casino to get to/from my room.

My one gripe is about scheduling, and it’s not really directed at the CRS event. Conference coordinators really need to do a better job scheduling their shows at times that don’t overlap with other conferences.  Last week, NARCA also had their spring collection conference in Chicago and CR Software had their Users Conference in Northern Virginia.  These are all planned months (if not years) in advance, so there is ample time to avoid overlaps.

Did you attend CRS, NARCA or CR Software last week?  How was the event for you?  Comment to my blog or send me a note.

Mike Ginsberg is President and CEO of ARM advisory firm Kaulkin Ginsberg, and can be reached by email. The firm is celebrating its 20-year anniversary in the ARM market.

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