Tim Bauer

Tim Bauer

In January of 2015 I joined insideARM. Shortly thereafter I began working with Stephanie Eidelman, CEO of insideARM, on her annual Larger Market Participant Summit (LMP). With the LMP Stephanie had created a conference that was different. It was timely. It was important for the industry. By the time I started she had done most of the heavy lifting for the 2015 LMP; my primary role for that event was to introduce speakers.

In February of last year Stephanie and I discussed an idea for a new conference – the First Party Summit. We debated the merits of adding a new conference to an already crowded ARM industry calendar. But, because the topic was so important and had not been covered elsewhere, we decided to proceed. I took on the role of being the “Producer” of the inaugural event.

I learned quickly that Stephanie had some “rules” for her conferences.  They were:

  1. Remain true to the tagline on our website (www.theiainstitute.com) “Change is happening, Engage in the dialogue” (It’s about the quality of the conversation)
  2. Find and recruit new, exciting, and credible faces to lead the discussions
  3. Design sessions that are specific and compelling
  4. Create a candid environment

And so began my new career as producer of not just ARM industry conferences, insideARM industry conferences.

Rule #1 – Engage in the dialogue

Rule # 1 was easy for me. Having been to many industry or professional conferences over the years I can’t recall a single speech or lecture that left me thinking: “Boy, am I glad I listened to that.” (Worst of all time? Easy Answer. Continuing Legal Education courses. Those lectures were either boring war stories or lawyers telling me the only thing I could do to avoid malpractice was send cases to them.)

On the other hand, I had positive recollections of conference sessions that were more interactive. Dialogue was better!

I moved forward in the planning of that initial conference. Outside of a Keynote Address or Opening General Session, our sessions were going to be small and interactive; we had four tracks and more than 20 sessions. This year will be similar, however one notable change is that we have included a track devoted exclusively to healthcare First Party work, or Revenue Cycle Management.

Rule #2 – Focus on new, exciting, credible speakers

I used to be a “regular” on the conference speaking circuit. I finally began turning down speaking requests when asked, “What are you speaking about this time, Bauer?” I knew then that I was over-exposed. People don’t want to hear the same speakers year after year after year.

There are a lot of very talented people out there. One benefit about being in the industry for a long time is that I have met a lot of those people over the years. I would show my age if I said, “I pulled out my rolodex.”  Instead, I started going through my Outlook contacts. If I were more contemporary, I might say “I went through my Twitter followers.”

I pushed, prodded, and begged people who I knew were among the best and brightest I have met to get them to agree to speak. Only a few of them had even spoken at an industry event before.  The result – new and different speakers.

Recruiting new speakers in Year 1 was relatively easy. In producing this year’s Summit, I soon realized that Rule #2 gets harder the second time around. How could I not ask back the speakers attendees loved last year? I had to strike a balance.

For this year’s Summit we have over 50 speakers. Only a handful are speakers from last year. Again, I went through my contacts and made the calls. What made it easier this year? The fact that the industry was still talking about last year’s inaugural event.

Rule #3 – Design specific and compelling sessions

This rule is actually the most fun and easiest to meet. The first party business is complex. There are lots of nuances. Topics can involve legal, regulatory, compliance, operations, HR, and IT issues. Topics can vary by industry. What is old news in one industry may be just developing in another industry.

The CFPB has announced its intention to create rules governing first party activity. Businesses are embracing outsourcing as they focus on core competencies and outsource non-core functions. Call center technology is changing by the minute. There is more than enough to talk about.

Rule #4 – Create a candid environment

insideARM conferences are closed to the press.  Even insideARM will not report on specific dialogue at the Summit. The size of the conference rooms, the layout of the rooms, the average size of the audience at any particular session, and other elements come together to create the environment that meets this rule.

insideARM conferences are also different in other, critical aspects. There is NO EXHIBIT HALL. The event is held in a hotel that lends itself to keeping the attendees together, not only for the sessions, but also the social functions (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). Networking is easier.  The Summit is also definitely NOT A BOONDOGGLE.  Attendees come to work and learn. They actually attend the sessions!

The Result

I followed Stephanie’s rules in year 1. We had a terrific inaugural event. Attendee feedback was off-the-charts positive.

I followed the rules again this year.  As a result, this year’s First Party Summit is “content-rich” and “must-attend” if you are involved in any first party activity or plan to get involved in the future. I am confident you would find this conference a good use of your time, and hope you’ll choose to sign up.

Registration is now open for the Second Annual insideARM First Party Summit -October 17-19, 2016. Leading creditors from banking, marketplace lending, retail, auto, telecom, healthcare, utility, and more, as well as agencies and call centers of all shapes and sizes will be in attendance.

Click here to see the agenda, list of speakers, and industries that will be represented. I guarantee that you will see topics that are essential to your business.

I hope to see you in October.

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