Tim Bauer

Tim Bauer

I have been in the ARM industry a long time.  I have more than a few grey hairs to prove it. However, there has been nothing about our industry that has changed more dramatically in the past 3-5 years than the emphasis on Compliance.

My dad loved to play cards; but not poker, nor Texas Hold’em.  He played serious card games. He played Bridge. Though he was a Blue Collar guy his whole life, my dad could play Bridge with anyone. I used to often watch my dad and his friends play. I would try to understand what they were doing. I could never get a grip on the terms “Trump” and “No Trump”. It baffled me for years. But now, even I can play Bridge.

For anyone remotely familiar with real card games the term (not the individual) “Trump” is easily recognizable. Webster’s Dictionary defines “Trump” as follows:

Trump noun

a :  a card of a suit any of whose cards will win over a card that is not of this suit —called also trump card

Why am I talking about card games in this article? In today’s ARM environment, compliance is the ultimate Trump card.  Compliance will win over all other elements of the ARM industry.  It is the differentiator.  Companies with robust compliance programs will not only survive, they will succeed. Companies that do not put the proper emphasis on compliance will not be around much longer.

It should be so simple.  I have always loved the following quote from Richard Cordray in the 2013 CFPB Annual Report to Congress.

“When the debt collection market works as it should, consumers will be treated fairly, will retain their dignity, and will be prompted in appropriate ways to pay their legitimate debts.”

This one sentence is the guide for everyone involved in ARM.  In my prior job at a large national ARM company I had posters made of this quote and plastered them all over our offices.

Unfortunately, what should be so simple is, in fact, very complicated. We have the FDCPA. We have the TCPA.  We have state laws and regulations. We have client specific requirements. It is a lot to learn.  It is a lot to train (and re-train, and re-train, and re-train).  There is case law being developed on a daily basis. We have criminals and thieves that use a collection agency or debt buying organization as a front for criminal activity. We are in an industry with historically very high employee turnover rates. It is an incredible challenge.

Still, this industry can and will survive.  It will survive because of good, honest, hard-working individuals that want to do the right thing.

The Compliance Professionals Forum (CPF) is here to help. Please join and participate. The CPF will get better and better as the group grows and participation increased.

One last thing:

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