10 minutes to watch. Full transcript below.
Erin: Hi, everyone, and thanks for joining me today. I’m here with Andy Hannan, Product Manager at DebtNext. DebtNext Software’s platform dPlat won best in show for the demo awards at iA Strategy & Tech 2021, so I wanted to chat with Andy about his experience and what DebtNext thinks is coming next in the ARM industry. So, Andy, thank you so much for being with me today.
Andy: Yes, and thank you Erin, thanks for having me and I’m excited to kind of talk through what’s going on out there.
Erin: Absolutely. So, why don’t we just start off with you giving us a brief introduction and telling us a little bit about DebtNext Software.
Andy: DebtNext is a technology solutions provider founded in 2003, with the goal to help our clients navigate the challenges of the receivables management industry. Really, we focus on our industry leading platform, which we call dPlat. It’s currently used by some of the nation’s largest utilities, telecommunications, financial services and accounts receivable management firms to fully illuminate their recovery management process.
Erin: Great, and as I mentioned, dPlat won best in show at the demo awards at iA Strategy & Tech this year, so congratulations Andy to you, and to DebtNext Software for that win. Why don’t you tell us about you and your role there at DebtNext?
Andy: I’ve actually been in the ARM industry since college, so I started about 19-20 years ago with a small creditors’ rights firm in Cleveland, so my experience has really taken me from being an application developer, business analyst, and product manager. So, early in my career, I did work for an ARM firm, developing and implementing software and applications to communicate for collections and regulatory compliance with information between our firm and our client partners. During this time I gained industry knowledge working with creditors, forwarders, peers, and attorneys. One of things that became apparent to me during my time working, then and now, is how important it is to be able to react fast to regulatory and client demands.
Erin: Absolutely. And Andy, you and I have that in common, we both started out in the ARM industry at a small creditors’ rights attorney firm, which you and I have talked about before and I had totally forgotten about until right now. So, given all of that, why don’t you talk to us about how DebtNext decides what’s next in terms of product development?
Andy: We talk about this a lot. We spend a lot of time at DebtNext kind of figuring out what is the next thing that makes our software better and can really help our clients. We do come out and publish an actual product roadmap for what we feel is going to be important over the next two years. We do two software releases a year, and we really try to make sure that we’re meeting what our clients need in the short term, and still have on the radar what we’re seeing on the radar and what we think might shift in the next couple of years. But, this is tough. Things change. If we only stuck to what was on our roadmap for two years’ out, we’d probably miss and potentially not make the right changes based on what we felt was coming in two years. As a company we rely on our team of accounts managers, implementation specialists, product and support specialists to share any customer feedback, industry insight, and research they feel could help make our product better and our clients succeed.
Erin: Okay, so, what kinds of platform enhancements are your clients asking for now?
Andy: Well, right now, I mean, I think everyone in the industry is aware of what’s coming now with Regulation F, especially with the model demand and balance itemization. That’s really our short term focus. Our release in May, that we just had, solved this for what we feel to be a majority of our clients. If they can get the data on the platform, we have a great way to communicate a clear and concise balance down to the agencies, so that they can add that to their model demand.
Erin: And that’s what you guys “unveiled” at the iA Strategy & Tech event in the summer?
Andy: Yes, absolutely. And, really, because the date is not changing for the implementation of the Reg F requirements, we’ve actually moved forward our release date. It was set for mid-December, we’re now actually going to be doing a software release November 23, 2021 to add some additional functionality around balance itemization, because we really feel it’s important to offer all our clients the opportunity to meet the CFPB requirements, now that the date has been confirmed. We really want to make sure that they have the time to get their systems configured and work with our team to make any necessary adjustments so that they are able to share the proper balance down to their agency partners.
Erin: Yes, and I know, just based on a lot of the conversations that are happening right now, that those are really the biggest concerns in the industry that you guys are trying to address in the November 23rd release, so best of luck to you there! Beyond Reg F, what would you say your client’s biggest concerns are in the medium term?
Andy: Reg F really does have everyone’s focus right now. If we go back and we look at our roadmap and some of the conversations we’ve been having over the last year, it’s been a hard industry to predict. A lot of people say it’s kind of a roller coaster. The one thing we kind of agree with a lot of out there, is that we do believe that some of the other software vendors are kind of predicting, is that collections is going to get more competitive as things eventually settle. We do think it’s likely that the people that know the best way to contact a consumer, that know how the consumer wants to be contacted, and are using the analytics to determine the appropriate message, they’re going to the ones who are rewarded as it becomes a more competitive landscape. So, all that said, consumer communication preference management, and implementing the consent management with our clients will be a priority. We introduced the first part of consent management in May, but we’re really going to be focused with a lot of our clients on getting that implemented, so they can really close the loop between first and third party collections around consent.
Erin: I know that that’s a hot topic right now and will continue to be as we get used to Reg F once it’s rolled out. Even beyond that, let’s talk about the long term. What are some of your clients’ concerns in the long term, you know, twelve months and beyond?
Andy: We are seeing a really increased interest in integrating with third party portals, sales brokers, and applications that our clients can utilize during the recovery lifecycle. So, they want to be able to really rapidly change their strategies and have more options available to them throughout their recovery management.
"It’s becoming really apparent that it matters what the consumers want. [We need to be] very clear with the consumer from the demand letter through the collections process."
Erin: Okay. So, getting back to Reg F, can you give a piece of advice to our audience about preparing for compliance with Regulation F?
Andy: Yes, really, hopefully everyone has been prepared. Hopefully, this is something everyone has been working on for months, and they are excited and they are ready and they feel this will actually help their collections process. For the people out there that are not, definitely reach out to your legal team and trusted partners to try to get a plan together to make sure you are compliant come December 1st.
Erin: After Reg F, again, what do you think will be the next significant challenge to your clients?
Andy: I hate the word challenge when it comes to this, because it’s really an opportunity, and it kind of goes back to what I was just mentioning when it comes to the different channels, but, in this unpredictable environment that we’re in, it’s really important to have a strategy in place and a system that allows you to have multiple collection channels that can be adjusted based on the industry and what you’re learning about consumers and your accounts. So, it’s really having tha tool and strategy to be able to basically adjust your recovery solution based on analytics and the data you’re gathering. It goes back to what I said really even early on in the industry, what I learned, the most important thing that I learned was being able to react fast in this industry. You’re dealing with regulatory changes, client demands, new strategies, new tools coming out all the time. I think that’s what’s really important.
Erin: Great, and I think those are all great lessons. So, again, thank you so much Andy, for chatting with me today. Any final thoughts to the audience about Reg F or beyond?
Andy: It’s not even just Reg F, but it’s becoming really apparent that it matters what the consumers want, being very clear with the consumer from the demand letter through the collections process. And, I don’t think that changes as much as how we collect the debt, but making sure the information is there, there’s real visibility into what’s happening. And if the consumer expresses how they want to be contacted, when they want to be contacted, or where, that’s information that should be shared, all the way back to your clients, amongst your agencies, and it should help you make strategies for your collection process. So, I think that’s what we’re all learning right now. It is important.
Erin: Absolutely, and that makes a lot of sense. So, again, thank you so much Andy, for taking some time to chat with me about this. And, thanks to the audience. Have a great day, everyone!
k out our article, Five Ways to Improve your Consumer Communication Preference Strategy for more information about managing and using consumer preference. Also, Tim Collins (InDebted) and Le’nore Caldwell (Spring Oaks Capital) agree with Andy: what consumers want matters. Check out there article, Customer-Driven Collections Is the New ARMs Race - Creditors and Agencies Who Master it Will Win for more ways consumers are now in the drivers’ seat, and how you can keep up.
Andy Hannan is the Product Manager at DebtNext Software, who’s software platform dPlat won best in show at the iA Strategy & Tech Demo awards in July, 2021.
Erin Kerr is the Director of Content at insideARM and the chair of iA Strategy & Tech - a conference for collections strategy executives. She is a seasoned receivables management professional, with recent experience in digital strategy and a passion for crafting digital solutions for a better customer experience