Since 2008, a number of important factors have posed challenges for creditors and debt collection agencies. For one thing, there is of course the broad economic picture to consider. The last five years have seen the most significant and prolonged economic downturn since the 1930s. On the one hand, this means that many consumers have struggled with decreased levels of disposable income over recent years. At the same time, concerns about the financial services sector as a whole has led to tighter regulation and a greater emphasis on compliance.
Against this backdrop, it may be natural to assume that recovery rates would have decreased over the last five years. From the point of view of one of the leading UK debt collection agencies, Wescot, this has not in fact been the case. While there was an initial decline in the immediate aftermath of the unsecured portfolios collapse of 2008, recovery activity for this particular company actually improved markedly (when compared to a fixed 2006 benchmark).
By looking closely at the way this company operates, it is possible to see how it has managed to achieve considerable success against what may be regarded as a ‘difficult’ financial landscape. For one thing, the company aims to treat customers fairly and to engage with each customer in an effective manner. In this way, it is possible to open up a constructive dialogue and to come up with a realistic repayment plan. This is in marked contrast to the bad practices that previously earned the sector a bad name and which Wescot has always rejected. Such practices include poor tracing methods – including doing little or nothing to verify customer contact details to try and ensure they are as up to date as possible. Other examples of bad practice include aggressive letters, an excessive number of phone calls and uncontrolled doorstep visits.
So far as Wescot is concerned, such practices are unfair, ineffective and very often counterproductive in terms of reaching a satisfactory outcome for all parties concerned. For one thing, this type of behaviour runs contrary to the current compliance regime. Equally as important, this type of approach eliminates the possibility of a meaningful relationship being rebuilt between the organisation and its customer. It also significantly undermines the ability of the collections agent to engage in a meaningful way with the customer and to bring about a satisfactory resolution to the situation.