Thursday, 14 November 2013

An apple a day: The pro-active approach to managing ever-changing regulations

The phrase “an apple a day, keeps the doctor away” was made famous by Benjamin Franklin, this outlines the benefits of taking a pro-active approach to your health and not just waiting for the doctor to give you a cure when you are sick. Exactly the same principle applies in today’s compliance-led collections environment where pro-activity will help to keep the regulators at bay.

The regulatory-driven approach of the US market provides issuers with a clearly defined set of regulations that must be followed; these are then rigorously enforced with severe consequences for failures, as exemplified through a number of recent high-profile cases. This approach has resulted in issuers being solely focused on meeting current requirements; they then await the next wave of regulations and respond accordingly. As such, the compliance agenda tends to be driven by the regulators, with issuers facing challenges in keeping up with ever-increasing requirements.

In a world of pro-activity regulators provide guidelines which issuers then interpret and adhere to. Although this may appear to provide less clarity and room for uncertainty, when applied correctly, this model results in issuers building an ingrained approach to ensuring the fair treatment of their customers rather than just meeting requirements. The key benefit for creditors is that they no longer need to react to growing regulation; instead they define it through their actions.

How do creditors become pro-active, by responding to, and having their own interpretation of, guidelines, rather than awaiting the regulators to impose changes. In our world of late stage collections this means reacting to growing guidelines around the management of third party debt suppliers, and utilizing the techniques we developed over the past 10 years to monitor performance, such as detailed monitoring and exception management, to now monitor compliance. Further to this, we can develop audit and compliance activity by focussing on policy and processes to ensure that these are being followed through account level auditing.

With this approach to compliance the industry can work with regulators to understand the pro-active ‘apple’ required to keep the ‘doctor’ away, this in turn will help to define future regulation and  ensure that issuers are well positioned to meet future requirements.

By John Telford, CEO - North America, TDX Group

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