Since the start of the Great Recession, words such as “change” and “adaptation” have defined the accounts receivable management (ARM) industry. Regulatory developments and economic conditions have directly impacted the way that most clients, collection agencies, debt buyers, collection law firms and vendors operate their businesses. Compliance has moved to the forefront of decision making processes as recovery managers and ARM executives alike are forced to overhaul established practices and adapt to the “new world order” that is being imposed upon them.
At a time of unparalleled change in the U.S. ARM industry, the Collection and Recovery Solutions (CRS) Conference, held last week, continues to maintain some traditions that make for an enjoyable conference experience.
Tradition #1 – Emphasis continues to be placed on the credit grantor. CRS is clear in its focus on catering to the credit grantor and as a result, limiting the number of participants who are service providers or vendors. At lunch, I sat with the recovery manager of a large department store and a mid-size credit union. One attended for years while the other was a first timer who was more than willing to share his personal experiences in the market. We were told that 40% of attendees were first-timers, which I thought was high. I am sure this was the result of some grantors getting out of their offices to determine market conditions and some others cutting back on the number of conferences they attend.
Tradition #2 – CRS is at the Same Location Every Year. For as long as I can remember, CRS has been located at the Four Seasons Las Vegas, attached to the Mandalay Bay. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to stay at the Four Seasons know that it provides for a wonderful travel experience. At CRS, the personnel are the same every year which is unheard of at most conference venues and makes presenters like me very comfortable that any problems will be quickly resolved. The food and service at the Four Seasons is always impeccable, but Judy and her team take it to another level with additions such as their gourmet coffee bar and cyber café. The Four Seasons tradition make for a great conference experience.
Tradition #3 – Attendance at CRS is always limited. This particular conference is always capped at around 400 attendees but I think that exclusivity adds to the experience. Grantors are not concerned about being bombarded by sales people and, as a result, they walk around during the breaks and they attend speaker sessions. As a speaker, we like when chairs are filled up during our session which is not always the case at a Vegas-based conference with the allure of the casinos and the pool. The limited number of attendees also adds to the cost which is reflected in the significant number of unregistered attendees in the lobby and hanging out in the Orchid Lounge, an additional tradition that we expect to see every year at CRS.
During a time in the ARM industry when change is the only constant, it is refreshing to speak at a conference like CRS where annual traditions are maintained.