Take Your Medicine: Toward the end of a post supporting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's forthcoming debt collection regulations, Ohad Samet predicted that the reform will not only benefit the public but in the long run help collectors themselves. "The CFPB's new rules will require originators and debt buyers to invest in infrastructure and automation to fulfill expected data consistency and disclosure requirements," predicted Samet, the co-founder and chief executive of TrueAccord, a debt-recovery startup that bills itself as high-tech and consumer-friendly. "That's a good thing, since the industry has suffered from underinvestment for years. In the long term, everyone will benefit." This "no, really, it's good for you" argument echoed earlier BankThink posts claiming regulators' stress tests can have positive side effects for large banks if they leverage the work involved to get a handle on enterprise-wide risk. But commenters from the collection industry possibly triggered by Samet's headline saying their profession needed a "kick in the pants" skipped this subtler point and took umbrage at his claim that debt sales are "broken." "The vast majority of accounts (by that I mean over 99%) are collected by direct creditors or large collection agencies or debt buyers," not fly-by-night outfits, commented reader Lou DiPalma. "These companies spend tens of millions of dollars per year on compliance." The individual examples of abuse documented by the CFPB that Samet mentioned pale in comparison to the hundreds of millions of accounts that the industry services, DiPalma said. Similarly, Jan Stieger of the trade group DBA International wrote, "attempting to paint all debt collectors with the same brush creates a misleading picture of the industry."
Standardization, or Surveillance? A hodgepodge of different formats for keeping records from bank to bank has helped money laundering and other misconduct to go undetected, writes Daniel Alter, former general counsel for the New York State Department of Financial Services. Alter, now a law professor, calls for more standardized data that would remove the need for "extensive, after-the-fact investigations by making real-time supervision a reality." That last phrase gave at least one reader the willies. "Real-time supervision" sounds like "the FDIC, CFPB, OCC, Federal Reserve, and all the other regulators (like state agencies) and enforcement agencies (like the Treasury) would be able to look into ALL bank customer transaction data at any time for 'compliance' reasons (a backdoor into the banks)," wrote commenter "tdogz." "A system that would allow for 'real-time' compliance checks could easily be abused by any agency, contractor, or individual with access to it." Another reader who emailed us was surprised that Alter, a former regulator, didn't mention a global data-standardization effort that's been in the works for several years: the Legal Entity Identifier project.
Also on the blog: American Banker Executive Editor Bonnie McGeer talks to SAP technologist Falk Rieker about a crummy experience he had trying to send money from his bank account. The anecdote illustrates why the digital-only "neobanks," which are trying to improve user experience and court millennial customers, need to be taken seriously. Speaking of millennials, Siya Vansia of ConnectOne Bank shares some tips about how banks can attract members of this generation to their workforces. And speaking of bank employees, longtime contributor Mark Olson identifies three traits common among good team players.