In 2017, collections professionals were being pulled in multiple directions at once by regulations, digital transformation, customer demands and new ways of working. Sometimes these align, but often it feels like being drawn and quartered.
To make it worse, these pressures make it easier to drop the ball on BAU, causing significant dips in delinquency performance, which in turn feeds a negative outlook. The regulations alone — IFRS 9, GDPR, PSD2, NPLG — are enough to make remembering your day job a challenge.
So, will 2018 be more fun? Not unless your idea of fun is spinning plates while dodging projectiles. Here are eight collections predictions for next year. I’ve focused on what I see across EMEA, but some of these trends will play out in other regions as well.
- The ECB Guidelines on NPL management will drive further change in the debt purchase and third-party servicing infrastructure across Europe.
- The impact of IFRS 9 and the potential huge increase in volumes of accounts moving to debt purchasers and debt collection agencies will continue to change the marketplace and customer behavior.
- Many large financial organizations that have not invested in collections technology for many years will be forced to invest as the life of their current platform comes to an end. In addition, they will see their collections capability as a competitive advantage – especially under IFRS 9.
- A combination of continued over-indebtedness, regulator scrutiny and central / European Bank target-setting will mean more organizations will join the large group already embarked on collections transformations, whether they be in the Nordics, South Africa or the UK.
- Customer demand for faster, immediate credit lines will put pressure on collections teams, who could fall behind with their technology stack visions.
- The continuing signs of economic downturn — including rising interest rates, increased utilization of food banks, awareness of persistent indebtedness levels, and media reports of the low levels of debt awareness among Generation X and Millennials — will “talk people into” debt.
New Ways of Working
- The demands to make smarter, transparent, unique customer decisions to avoid unacceptable customer outcomes will be key drivers of data lake progress and deeper adoption of advanced analytics and decision tools. However…
- Those running towards AI and machine learning, a growing group, are likely to have their visions slowed up by the here and now. While the direction is correct, many organizations are having to tie things up better before they start to sprint.
To top it all off, the economies of many countries remain fragile and political stability combined with Brexit are likely to make for a challenging, sometimes exhausting environment in which to manage credit risk and collections.
So here’s a toast to all my fellow collections professionals. Rest up this holiday season, and I’ll see you in 2018.