Juvenile Delinquencies: SchoolsFirst Attacks Collections Before Data Gets Old

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SANTA ANA, Calif. — Delinquent borrowers are changing their ways, thanks to a change in collections systems and management at SchoolsFirst FCU here.

Collection success rates are at 38%, up from about 27% one year ago, said Billy Wagner, business analyst at the $8.2-billion CU. The success ratio represents the number of delinquent accounts with positive action going into November 2010 compared to November 2009.

Kept promises-to-pay shot up to 63% in March 2010, up from 37% in March 2009, Wagner added. That "kept" ratio from 2010 represents more than $1.7-million collected on SchoolsFirst cards, unsecured debt and auto and real estate loans.

In 2009, SchoolsFirst switched to Framework SOLUTION.COLLECTION, offered by Malvern, Penn.-based Akcelerant. Framework provides "extensive" tracking and reporting features that the CU's previous software can't touch, said Wagner.

Previously, the 65-agent collections team relied on internal e-mail, spreadsheets and personal calendars to track the collections process, Wagner explained. "Items fell through the cracks" and action was delayed. "You might send a follow-up to someone, but that person might be on vacation."

The workflow software in Framework automatically routes tasks among collections workgroups. For example, Framework follows up on final-demand letters to verify whether a payment has been made on the account and alerts the team when a repossession letter needs to be sent.

"Before, the onus of the process fell on the individual team member," Wagner said. "Now, multiple team members have access to Framework and the onus falls on the work process. That helps us understand our process and make it more consistent."

Workflow saves SchoolsFirst about 30 hours per month tracking payment plans, he said. The CU uses another workflow to tell specialty team members when and why delinquent borrowers call the CU and to assign a team member to return the call.

Framework's reporting software is a "game-changer," continued Wagner, making it easy to import data from the CU's core processing system to create graphical reports that are automatically delivered to selected team members.

Reports include schedules with hyperlinks to the accounts and documents in question: a team member can click a hyperlink in the schedule to instantly access relevant information.

"Team members can quickly see the next step in the process with hyperlinks to accounts and documents that help them complete that day's tasks," Wagner said.

The SchoolsFirst team always has fresh data to work with, according to Eric Snyder, Akcelerant's EVP-business development. "Data are sent in batch everyday between Akcelerant and the core system, plus there are real-time updates whenever a team member begins work in an account."

Wagner said he configured Framework to automatically distribute about a dozen reports to various team members at regular intervals. "Once I create the report, I don't have to touch it again. That saves our business intelligence area between eight to 15 hours per week."

Daily inventory reports can be sliced and diced many ways, including by product, by bucket, by individual loan, dollar amounts and days delinquent. "By following built-in hyperlinks, upper management can quickly see what's going on in any account in a matter of seconds."

SchoolsFirst can track promise-to-pays according to the payments made toward each promise and by account-or by collections team member.

"If a team member falls below the average dollars collected per month, we can follow hyperlinks to the accounts the team member touched to see whether they followed an appropriate course of action," he said.

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