“When I grow up, I want to be a debt collector.”

I didn’t.

I was raised on the farm, so my first career choice was to own an equipment repair shop. My dad and uncles could fix anything. (I mean anything!)

As I got older, being clean and dressing in a suit held much more appeal.

I remember driving down Jasper Ave in downtown Edmonton telling my parents.

I want to work in one of those tall buildings someday.

However, if my future self came to talk to me before I started a career in debt collections and said…

“Hello, past self, this is Brad from the future and you are going to KILL it in the debt collection business.”

I would have thought I was dreaming.

Quoi?! A DEBT collector??

There is a common theme amongst all credit services people that I’ve chatted with over the years. Not one of us thought we would ever be involved in debt recovery for a second when we finished our formal schooling. Every person gets into credit and collections by accident, and either you love it or hate it.

I was (unexpectedly) hooked- I loved it.

The term Debt Collector conjures up all kinds of negative ideas or pictures in one’s head about the job. As Dilbert demonstrates:

 

Today, I want to break the stigma- or at least have you question it. I want to speak to those who are considering entering the field but are battling those negative pictures. Those that are wondering if this is a career for them.

If you are on the fence about a career in debt collections but have yourself thinking:

 

I want to be more than just a collector. I want something challenging, rewarding and to be able to make an impact in the financial community…

Then this post is for you.

Hey kid, want to make $50 bucks?

I had a meeting with a distinguished-looking gentleman at a coffee shop in a retail store where I worked during high school. Our polite conversation eventually came around to our jobs, and he told me he was a debt collector.

What is a debt collector?

I was so young and naive at the time. I had no idea what that even was. He explained he was having trouble locating somebody’s employment. He offered me $50 if I could find it for him and report back the next week.

At the time, $50 was big money for me. (Plus, I thought the idea of playing detective sounded like fun.) I went for it.

Long story short, I earned my $50, but what’s more: I learned several valuable lessons.

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed the chase

  2. People are willing to pay for good service

  3. Don’t tell your parents what you just did, especially if you live in a small community, LOL!

As someone who has lived and breathed this industry for over 30 years, I want to highlight a few of the positive and rewarding aspects, such as:

  • it’s challenging

  • it feels great to give money back to customers

  • it feels equally great to help better out of financial trouble

  • You don’t need an MBA to earn great money, and;

  • it provides a significant economic contribution.

With any career, you’re going to have your bad days. However, I can look you in the eyes and honestly say this:

There hasn’t been one day where I have regretted my decision to work in the field of debt recovery.

Seriously, let’s examine debt recovery as a profession.

 

3 facts:

  1. Businesses spend billions of dollars each year attempting to attract customers.

  2. Companies also extend repayment terms to their best customers.

  3. It costs businesses a significant sum of money to provide their services or products to you.

Business 101, my friends.

Suffice to say; companies must invest heavily in a customer before the first sale is even made! A business may need to sell to their customer multiple times before recovering all of their sunk costs and begin to make a profit.

Therefore, the collection of its receivables is a significant concern.

As long as there is debt…

 

Credit managers will work hard to extend repayment terms to worthy customers; however, there are always slow payers and non-payers. It is the debt collector’s job to recover the funds and attempt to rehabilitate the customer relationship so they will buy from you again. Debt collectors that do this successfully help their employers to recover their cost of customer acquisition.

Records of the first known banknote show it was developed in China in the 7th century, and the first recorded loan was in 3500 BC.

Equifax put together this (enormous) flipbook that shows the first personal loan taken out over 5000 years ago:

 

(For the history buffs/credit intellectuals that want to learn the entire history, here is the link to the full book)

We have been loaning money and collecting debt for over 5000 years; the need for credit managers and debt collectors isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

 

Sky’s The Limit

There are several career choices in debt collection. It begins with the credit analysts working for companies, following up on that company’s slow payers. Debt collectors are also in high demand in outsource receivable management companies, Third-party debt collection agencies, law firms, and debt buyers.

As a debt collector, you are not limited to being an employee. You can start your own business, managing customer receivables. Some people open a collection agency and get paid a percentage of what they recover.

There are many career options open to you if you enjoy debt collections. The work isn’t for everybody, so you will be invaluable to your employer or customers. Good debt collectors enjoy high job security and the ability to generate as much income as they want.

As long as companies continue to extend credit to their customers, there will always be a need for debt collectors.

I’m curious…

What path has led you to a career in collections? What would you tell someone who might be on the fence about it?

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