Oliver announces intent to acquire Lawgix Services

Walker White

October 26, 2022

Oliver announces intent to acquire legal servicing provider to create 360-degree collections litigation solution for creditors.

Addition of services offering to the Oliver software platform provides a fresh approach for creditors executing repetitive collections litigation processes.

 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – 26 OCTOBER 2022 – Oliver Technology Corporation (“Oliver”), the leading debt collection software platform, today announced the company’s intent to acquire Lawgix Services, the leading provider of managed services for collections litigation. The deal is expected to close January 1, 2023. With this acquisition, Oliver will add to its market-leading collections litigation platform a complete solutions offering and provide a revolutionary approach for creditors executing repetitive processes in collection litigation.

Specifically, in addition to utilizing Oliver’s world-class technology platform, including automated features, creditors will now also be able to tap a world-class team of experts in collections law, process engineering, and technology to handle critical tasks across document creation, case management, payment processing, and vendor coordination.

“This deal represents a critical step forward in Oliver’s evolution from technology platform to 360-degree solution for our creditor clients undergoing the complex and often-repetitive collections litigation process,” said Walker White, CEO, Oliver Technology Corporation. “Creditors are voicing a clear need for expert services in addition to top-quality technology to help them navigate an evermore complex collections litigation space. With this move, we are answering that call.”

The Oliver Advantage
Oliver:Services can replace the traditional model in which each law firm is responsible for the administrative and financial processes in collections litigation. These functions can be handled more efficiently by the central team at Oliver:Services, allowing lawyers to focus on litigation. Benefits include:
● Consistent, precise execution of litigation workflow by a dedicated team of trained paraprofessionals
● Document filing and case management optimized for every U.S. state and local jurisdiction
● Standardized document creation with automatic routing for attorney review
● Tighter controls that set the standard of care for regulatory compliance, security, and privacy
● More accurate accounting, with vendor payments reconciled and recoveries posted to creditors’ general ledgers
● Centralized monitoring and auditing
● Significantly lower total cost for creditors

“We are delighted to be joining the Oliver team. This is really a story of coming home for us, at a time when quality control, transparency, compliance and experience are the highest priorities for top-flight creditors pursuing collections litigation on an ongoing basis,” said John Ritter, CEO, Lawgix Services. “I can’t wait to see all we can accomplish, together.”

To learn more about Oliver, please visit: www.olivertechnology.com

To learn more about Oliver’s services offering, coming January 2023, please visit:
www.olivertechnology.com/products/#Oliver:Services

ABOUT OLIVER
Meet Oliver. We bring precision to complex litigation, focusing on debt collection today. Our software helps creditors and law firms work together across the entire debt collection lifecycle: creditors gain control of their litigation efforts, law firms have an efficient way to collaborate, and consumers are ultimately treated like people, not debtors. Our technology removes inconsistencies, prevents unnecessary errors, and keeps organizations in compliance. It creates operational firepower. And it enables people to work on the important things. We are working to change debt collection’s bad name by building Responsible Software at the intersection of RegTech and LegalTech. All that and more is why leading debt collection operations run on Oliver.

ABOUT LAWGIX
Lawgix provides best-in-class managed services across the entire collections litigation process. The Lawgix team is comprised of creditors’ rights attorneys and paralegals, process engineers, and technologists working in collaboration with creditors, law firms, and constituent stakeholders to create the most effective, efficient, and compliant solution on the market.

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The new compliance risks for creditors that outsource collections litigation

Walker White

January 10, 2022

For creditors trying to recover long charged-off debts, it’s been appealing to use vendors that manage the long and complex process of managing lawyers and filing suit against debtors. Not only did outsourcing save time and hassle, it insulated the creditors from violations of federal and state debt-collection rules made by the vendors.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has long been trying to pierce the compliance shield provided by outsourcing. With its recent modifications to Regulation F governing collections, the CFPB has eliminated much of the protection creditors have against violations by their vendors.

Now creditors need other ways to protect themselves. Here are five of the most important steps any creditor can take to mitigate their risk that vendors could put them in violation of the new regulations:

  • Build a central process for monitoring compliance.  The CFPB has made it clear that lenders are responsible for the “unfair, deceptive or abusive acts or practices” (UDAAP) committed by any vendor they use. As with any other regulations, financial institutions need an independent internal process for ensuring compliance by their own employees and all the service providers they hire.
  • Closely monitor communication with debtors. Regulation F now imposes strict rules on the frequency and content of communications intended to collect debts. It also requires creditors and their vendors to keep track of and comply with requests consumers make about how they want to be communicated with.
  • Bolster the process for communicating details about debts to collection agencies and law firms. The new rules require specific information to be communicated with debtors who ask for evidence the debt being collected is valid. The data for these validation notices needs to be provided directly by the lender and can’t be passed from one vendor to another.
  • Make sure there is an audit trail of all collections activities at the creditor and its vendors.  Be prepared to respond to requests from bank examiners, the CFPB, and plaintiff’s lawyers asking for details about every phone call made, letter sent, and legal paper filed.
  • Consider bringing litigation management in-house. The new regulatory regime mandates a complex and detailed flow of information between creditors, collection agencies and law firms. Adding a master servicer to coordinate litigation increases the risk that something will get lost. Few master servicers have the technology needed to monitor communication by law firms in real time. This makes it very difficult for the master servicers and the creditors they work for to ensure compliance. 

The consequences for lenders of a violation of debt collection rules by a vendor can be significant. The CFPB has shown itself to be very serious about cracking down on regulatory violations, often imposing large fines. And even a small problem could disrupt the operations of a vendor, delaying the recovery of all the accounts it is handling. 

For a comparison of creditor-managed collection litigation to outsourced litigation management, you can download our QuickStudy, “The risk of outsourcing collections litigation: How centralized control can prevent compliance violations and increase recoveries at the same time.”

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How outsourcing collections litigation is hampering your recoveries

Walker White

January 3, 2022

Attention lenders: If you’re still hiring an outside firm to manage your collections litigation, you are spending money on a service that is making your operations less efficient. You’ll be able to increase recoveries while expending less effort if you coordinate your collections law firms in-house.

To be sure, anyone who’s been in this business for a while knows this wasn’t always true. Back when paper documents held sway, creditors hired outsourcers to escape the tedious and costly work of forwarding account files to local law firms and keeping track of their progress.

Today, paper has been replaced by cloud computing (or should have been). And the government now requires creditors to monitor the law firms collecting debt on their behalf, ensuring that they comply with strict regulation.

In this environment, outsourcing collections litigation is no longer the most efficient recovery method. Here are just six of the pain points caused by litigation outsourcing:

  • Disjointed workflows. Many outsourcers use multiple software systems (often emailing documents, too) throughout the collections litigation process, instead of a single streamlined system.
  • Manual document creation. Attorneys hired by outsourcers often create legal filings in Microsoft Word, after gathering supporting information from multiple systems. Data duplication leads to increased risk of errors.
  • Inefficient information exchange. Law firms need facts and documents to support the validity of the creditor’s claims. Eventually, they will need an official of the creditor to sign an affidavit attesting to the claim’s veracity. Typically, outsourcers handle this information exchange through email, delaying collections while creating manual work flows for the creditor.
  • Insufficient audit support. The systems used by most outsourcers are designed to keep track of groups of files that are forwarded as a package to law firms. They typically can’t provide the real-time details of individual accounts the creditor needs to supervise and audit compliance.
  • Costly fees. Aside from the legal fees involved, outsourcers pocket 4%-7% of all recoveries.
  • Heavier workloads for attorneys. Collections lawyers engaged by outsourcers must attend to time-consuming clerical tasks. This busy work leads law firms to ask for higher contingency fees than they would need with a more efficient (and less error-prone)  process.

Today a creditor can solve all these problems by using modern cloud-based technology that enables them to manage their collections litigation in house more efficiently than through master servicers. Specifically:

  • State of the art workflow management systems allow creditors to store collections data in a single repository for smoother workflows.
  • Documents are automatically assembled without draining clerical processes.
  • Compliance is simplified, since the system is centralized and disallows debtor-contact that would violate regulations.
  • The administratives costs involved are typically well below those charged by outsourcers.

Best of all, the enhanced efficiencies mean improved productivity, increased volume, lower legal fees, and ultimately, higher returns.

For a comparison of creditor-managed collection litigation to outsourced litigation management, you can download our QuickStudy, “The risk of outsourcing collections litigation: How centralized control can prevent compliance violations and increase recoveries at the same time.”

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Four predictions for the collections litigation industry in 2022

Walker White

December 20, 2021

As we move into the new year, it’s clear already that 2022 will be a turning point for the entire collections industry. And that’s particularly true in the community where we are most active—the creditors, lawyers, and service providers involved in recovery litigation. All of us are still confronting the tragedy, disruption, and uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic.

And though we’ve spent several years preparing, we are all still figuring out how to adopt the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Regulation F, which finally went into effect at the end of 2021.

As I think about 2022, I do not expect that the CFPB or other regulators will swoop in during the year with major enforcement actions in collections. It’s more likely than not that they will watch carefully how we implement the standards for consumer contact and the other changes that Reg F imposes.

Nonetheless, the specter of being charged with violating the new regulations hangs over every player in the industry. Indeed, this new reality has started to set off a chain of events that is only just beginning. Three of the four predictions, in fact, flow directly from Regulation F. I start with one issue that we all must confront right away.

1. Cyber security will become an urgent priority.

Computer security breaches are becoming more frequent, more serious, and a lot more costly. We’ve seen how ransomware attacks and new software vulnerabilities can set off a chain reaction of disruption throughout the economy that ultimately can cause days of uncertainty for many players throughout the industry. For everyone involved in collection litigation, a hacking incident can expose sensitive personal information, disrupt legal proceedings, and raise the ire of regulators.

Accordingly, everyone from the largest bank to the smallest collection law firm is looking at all the computer systems they depend on and asking for assurance they have every possible defense in place. These concerns and demands will escalate, favoring those operators at the vanguard of cyber security technology and procedures.

2. Creditors will become more involved in the collections and litigation process.

Regulation F has put an end to the days when creditors could assume that by outsourcing their litigation and collection that they were protected from penalties for any violations made by their vendors. The new rules make clear that the institutions that hire law firms or other service providers are responsible for their actions.
Compliance departments in 2022 will rigorously interrogate all their law firms and other vendors to determine if they can track and follow requests consumers make about how they want to communicate.

Prediction 2a is that often enough the big banks won’t like what they see. Too many players are doing business the way they did 20 years ago. They can’t communicate with customers over email or social media. And they can’t take payments electronically. These gaps not only risk running afoul of Regulation F, they also don’t live up to the standard of service that banks expect of their brands.

3. Vendors will start to retool their systems—or exit the business.

What happens at the collections agency or master servicer after they realize they can’t deliver the service level that the creditors and regulators expect? A scenario along these lines: The CEO calls the head of technology and discovers that they’ve been running the same systems since email was delivered via a dial-up line. Translation: If you want to do business in today’s world of instant communication and cloud computing, you will have to invest in a modern computing platform.

Some will step up and build or buy the technology they need. Others, I’m sure, will see 2022 as the right year to sell their company to a buyer that already has modern systems or at least has the capital to acquire them.

4. A generational shift will begin at collections law firms

Ultimately, the demand for new business practices and technology will flow from regulators through creditors and master servicers to hit individual collections law firms hard. Yes, the lawyers on the front lines have ultimate responsibility for following the rules. But they are generally local or regional players with limited resources.

This is a big opportunity for the legal minds coming into the upper ranks at their firms now. They have trained and formed their practice around a shifting landscape and in anticipation of technological upgrades that will quickly become a “ticket to play.” That is expertise their firms will value deeply as they grapple with the industry shifts outlined here and more.

In all, 2022 is going to be a year when the collections litigation world will rethink many practices and relationships that have been stable for years, sometimes decades. At Oliver, we’re in the middle of this, of course, building a technology platform designed to make the entire litigation chain more productive. We look forward to exploring all of this with everyone in the community. Don’t hesitate to give us a call or find us at industry events.

We’ve also written a white paper that explores the new world of creditor-driven collections. You can get your copy here.

Here’s to a successful 2022.

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An Executive Q&A Session with Stephanie Eidelman, CEO, The iA Institute

Walker White

May 19, 2021

In the wake of the Hunstein case, we examine how these consumer-centric policies, laws and market conditions are causing disruption and uncertainty in the collections industry. There are three take-aways from our interview with Stephanie Eidelman, CEO of The iA Institute.

Regulators are placing the compliance responsibility at the feet of Creditors.

Stephanie Eidelman: As we remember from former CFPB Director Cordray, they were going to write rules for first parties.  They set that aside.  The Trump administration didn’t pick it up. I would expect these will be picked up again with the Biden administration. So, your platform nicely anticipates that.

Walker White:  Absolutely.  It ultimately comes down to the fact that we have better technology today to solve collaborative problems.  It’s important that the collaborative platform is for all parties to work together in a compliant, efficient manner to achieve an outcome we all desire.  This is good for all parties involved, but also for the consumer as well, to make debt collections as palatable as possible.

Our solution, called Oliver CLX, which stands for collections litigation exchange, automates, and orchestrates all repetitive, legal, and regulatory processes, bringing all the required parties together onto a single platform to drive more revenue, help them maintain rigorous compliance, and ultimately simplify the litigation process.  This gives creditors more control over the process and ensures compliancy across the channel.

Hunstein is just the latest example of the need for change in the Collections Industry.

Stephanie Eidelman:  In the last week or two, we have all been consumed by this case that came out of nowhere, Hunstein.  I’d be interested in your perspective on how the market can deal with compliance fire drills in a better way.

Walker White: I think Hunstein is an example of why change is required in this industry.  If we look back over the last 15-18 months, think about all the disruptions in the industry.  COVID—obviously, unexpected macro activity.  And then Regulation F, which was expected and will require a lot of change.  Some of these changes can be awfully expensive and disruptive.  And ultimately, these changes expose all companies in the supply chain to compliance risk, from the creditor to the master servicer, to the law firm, etc.

We think the trend is towards what we call “creditor-managed collections,” rather than the more decentralized approach that we have today.  This is not going to be creditors dictating the steps that the law firm or others must take, but rather think of it as the creditor setting the table.  That’s where the Oliver platform is valuable to manage all the consumer data in a centralized repository, and then farm it out to anyone who is authorized to use it.  This allows those creditors to implement, in a configurable group of servicers or vendors that they want to implement their collections strategy, facilitate the data transmissions, because it’s the creditor’s platform.

This allows us to step right around the Hunstein problem, because it’s not going to a third-party and then from that third-party to someone else. The creditor is authorizing the release of the information directly.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s for agency, legal, or debt sales.  Ultimately, we are centralizing and enforcing the consumer preference data side of that as required by Reg F.

We are no longer playing telephone, where we toss files from person to person.  With a creditor-driven model, the creditor puts the data into a platform where everyone can operate on it seamlessly. And I think that’s the difference that we’re going to see going forward.

Built-in Compliance stabilizes the process.

Stephanie Eidelman:  It’s interesting that you talk about centralization as a way to standardize or maybe stabilize the process.  How does that look different tomorrow from today?

Walker White:  I think a good way to consider this is through the lens of the compliance being built into the solution.  Historically the creditor would send a file out, they would rely upon their servicers, the firms, and so on to manage it.  But think about how TurboTax, which took all the laws, rules, and procedures of the tax code, and basically brought it into a platform where even someone like myself can file my taxes online because they built all that compliance into it.  The Oliver platform has built-in compliance rules, such that anyone who’s operating in the environment gets the benefit.

For example, the creditor wants the demand letter sent in 35 days, not 34 and not 36.  The platform ensures that will happen and documents that it was sent.  Next the suit is going to be filed…automatically released…never a day early, never a day late, always on time.  When it comes to proving attorney meaningful involvement, if you’ve got a platform which can oversee all processes, it’s easy for them to see that the attorney looked at this matter for seven minutes while they evaluated the balance and who it was being mailed to, and so on.  Ultimately, I think the big difference we’re seeing; rather than leaving it to chance and to the individual parties, the creditor can oversee the process.  Not enforce it but oversee it and make sure everything is followed in the way they expect it to.

Listen to the full interview here.

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A New Paradigm: Creditor-Driven, Consumer-Centric Collections

Walker White

May 10, 2021

The Hunstein Case is just the latest example of how consumer-centric policies, laws and market conditions are causing disruption and uncertainty in the collections industry. And it won’t be the last. Here are some recent examples:

  • COVID pandemic
  • Dodd Frank vendor oversight requirements
  • New debt collection rules and Reg F
  • New administration and regulatory activism

All these changes are designed to protect consumers and regulators are forcing creditors to be responsible for this consumer-centric movement.  To protect their brand and reduce operational risk, creditors need to make a paradigm shift from a decentralized approach to a centralized, creditor-driven approach.

This three-part webinar series will explore this centralized, creditor-driven approach from three different perspectives: creditor, regulator, and servicers.

Part One: Collectors Perspective (on-demand)

How 2 of the Top 5 Creditors are Poised to Win in this New Paradigm for Today and Tomorrow.

May 12, 2021 | 3:00 PM EDT

Part Two: Regulator Perspective (register)

How Creditors can Align their Strategies to Meet Regulators Future Expectations

June 2, 2021 | 1:00 PM EDT

Part Three: Servicers Perspective (register)

Minimize Chaos in a Dynamic Environment

June 30, 2021 | 1:00 PM EDT

Watch PART ONE webinar today and hear Heidi Staloch, USBank, Stefanie Jackman, Ballard Spahr, Walker White, Oliver Technology Corporation and Thomas Michael, Oliver Technology Corporation discuss:

  • Why creditors are shifting to a centralized, creditor-driven model.
  • How a free flow of consistent, accurate data is the source of the solution across the creditor’s strategy.
  • What end-to-end oversight and control means for collections and consumers.

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How to Bake Compliance into Collections Litigation

Walker White

December 10, 2020

The new rulings from CFPB will curtail some of the most widely used—and often abused—practices in collections.  Keeping up with federal, state, local and, venue-specific laws, rules, and procedures is a huge cost and risk to manage, and implementing the Final Rule will be no different.  Creditors and law firms need full-time staff to monitor the laws, rules, and procedures across the nation.  Since the formation of the CFPB, the amount of quality control checks and audit requirements has grown exponentially.  In the past, there were only two solutions; hire more people or lower your volume.  In the face of the expected growth of debt over the next few years, neither course of action is ideal.

Want to learn how to best prepare for the new FDCPA rule?  Watch our on-demand webinar with Diana Banks, Vice President with American Bankers Association and, Walker White, CEO of Oliver Technology.

The Opportunity:  Automation with Built-in Compliance

The technology exists today to automate much of the compliance process to ensure adherence across the collections litigation channel.  Here are three key categories of automation that allow creditors to maintain rigorous compliance.

    1. Codify Compliance

Think of how TurboTax™ transformed the way the average person does their taxes and remains compliant with the IRS; that’s codifying.  The first step is to codify all the federal, state, local, and venue specific laws and regulations.  Next, place this code onto a platform that is used by all parties across the collections litigation channel to ensure that everyone is maintaining compliance throughout the process.

Creditors and law firms have extensible procedures and business rules that need to be incorporated into the platform.  These are specific procedures that help those companies meet reputational goals or internal controls.

A key value to codifying compliance is providing granular visibility and agility. When an account cannot automatically flow through the process, they need to be escalated and handled on an exception basis.  Now 90% of inventory can be automated and only 10% need exception-based management.

  1. Simplify Audit

The CFPB measures compliance through audits, yet this can be a very manual, time-consuming, and subjective process.  Additionally, many creditors have strict internal controls that need to be managed and measured.  By building compliance into the collections litigation platform, all collections activity can be audited easily.  The platform documents every step of the process including measuring meaningful attorney involvement.

Clear reporting of handoffs, reviews, approvals, and SLAs are critical to the accuracy of the audit.  Finally, giving creditors end-to-end visibility and control over the process is critical to ensure that all the compliance and internal controls are met.

  1. Customization

Litigation is a combination of science and art, meaning that there can be multiple ways to manage an account and remain compliant.  Many debt collectors have developed unique standard operating procedures (SOPs) that need to be incorporated into the compliance framework.  Creditors have multiple law firms in each state where they litigate and each of their firms can navigate the compliance framework with their unique SOP.  By integrating these SOPs into the platform, all the parties can continue to process inventory according to their SOP and still maintain the overall consistency of approach that creditors and regulators require.

Finally, technology today enables us to quickly adapt to changing market and regulatory conditions.  The COVID-19 pandemic is a perfect example.  From a legal and reputational perspective, creditors needed to suddenly stop the litigation process, reassess the level of the hardship of their accounts, modify their process of collection with courtesy communication or forbearance offerings, and then quickly restart the process when the courts reopened.   If they had a collections litigation platform in place with built-in compliance, SLAs, and SOPs, they would have been able to automatically send courtesy communication, and continue to work on accounts and place them in processing queues.  Upon reprioritization based on their ability to pay and preparing them for litigation, accounts would be ready to be put into the system as soon as the courts reopened.

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CFPB Releases FDCPA Final Rule with 10 Key Changes

Walker White

December 8, 2020

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released its final rule for the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act on October 30, 2020.  The release of the rule promises to bring substantial changes in consumer debt collections practices.  The rule becomes effective one year after its date of publication, or November 2021.

In the meantime, here is a summary of 10 key changes that you can expect from this rule.  Please visit the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act for more detail.

1.  Communication for debt collection

For purposes of this section, the term “consumer” includes consumer’s spouse, parent (if the consumer is a minor), guardian, executor, or administrator.  There are specific updates on who, what, where and when you can communicate with consumers and third parties.  In addition, there is a section on the circumstances on when a debt collector needs to cease communication.

2.  Harassment or abuse

A debt collector may not engage in any conduct the natural consequence of which is to harass, oppress, or abuse any person in connection with the collection of a debt. Without limiting the general application of the foregoing, six examples of conduct that are a violation of this section are provided.

15 USC 1692e

3.  False or misleading representations

A debt collector may not use any false, deceptive, or misleading representation or means in connection with the collection of any debt. Without limiting the general application of the foregoing, there are 16 points on conduct that are violations.

15 USC 1692f

4.  Unfair practices

A debt collector may not use unfair or unconscionable means to collect or attempt to collect any debt. Without limiting the general application of the foregoing, this section describes eight examples of conduct that is a violation.

15 USC 1692g

5.  Validation of debts

This is a detailed description of new processes for

  • Notice of debt, contents
  • Disputed debts
  • Admission of liability
  • Legal pleadings
  • Notice provisions

15 USC 1692h

6.  Multiple debts

If any consumer owes multiple debts and makes any single payment to any debt collector with respect to such debts, such debt collector may not apply such payment to any debt which is disputed by the consumer and, where applicable, shall apply such payment in accordance with the consumer’s directions.

15 USC 1692i

7.  Legal actions by debt collectors

Any debt collector who brings any legal action on a debt against any consumer shall abide by the specific venue rules outlined in this section.

15 USC 1692j

8.  Furnishing certain deceptive forms 

It is unlawful to design, compile, and furnish any form knowing that such form would be used to create the false belief in a consumer that a person other than the creditor of such consumer is participating in the collection of or in an attempt to collect a debt such consumer allegedly owes such creditor, when in fact such person is not so participating.

Any person who violates this section shall be liable to the same extent and in the same manner as a debt collector is liable under section 1692k of this title for failure to comply with a provision of this subchapter.

15 USC 1692k

9.  Civil liability 

This section outlines the civil liability of any debt collector who fails to comply with any provision of this subchapter.  It provides details on…

  • Amount of damages
  • Factors considered by court
  • Intent
  • Jurisdiction
  • Advisory opinions of Bureau

15 USC 1692l

10.  Administrative enforcement

This section gives detail on compliance and enforcement as it pertains to:

  • The Federal Trade Commission
  • Applicable provisions of law
  • Agency powers
  • Rules and regulations

15 USC 1692m

This is a high level summary of the new rule, please visit the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act for more detail.

 

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Oliver Secures Key Funding from Wells Fargo Startup Accelerator

Walker White

November 4, 2020

Today is an exciting day for Oliver. In an announcement this morning, Wells Fargo named Oliver one of the newest companies to join the Wells Fargo Startup Accelerator, which helps advance emerging technologies like ours that are working to create breakthrough solutions for the financial services industry. The program, which began in 2014, provides up to $1 million in funding, as well as critical guidance from Wells Fargo business and technology leaders. As Oliver continues to scale, this valuable collaboration will provide us with the capital and expertise needed to help our banking customers produce more revenue at lower costs.

In a year that is significantly impacting debt collections for financial services, joining the Wells Fargo portfolio is more meaningful than ever. It provides us the opportunity to not only lead the charge to redefine debt recovery for banks, but to absorb the real-world experience of Wells Fargo along the way.

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Conquer the 5 Failures in Collections Litigation

Walker White

October 21, 2020

The Collections Market is currently experiencing the first credit cycle in the CFPB era. In February 2020, according to the St. Louis Federal Reserve, consumers were expected to default on at least 2.3% of outstanding debt, costing creditors over $325B. However, that prediction was PRIOR to the any impact of the pandemic. If the 2008-2009 recession is any indicator, defaults almost doubled. And many feel we are headed that direction.

Creditors, law firms and master servicers are looking at what they need to do today—to keep progressing—while preparing for an inevitable influx of debt collection in the near future.

Most collections litigation strategies lack the built-in agility needed to manage the changing dynamics of the market, bringing to light clear failure points in the process. Each time creditors hit a failure point, they leak value out of their strategy, directly impacting their bottom line.

Want to get a 360° view from a creditor, lawyer and technology experts on conquering these failure points? Watch our on demand webinar with Heidi Staloch, Vice President and Assistant General Counsel at US Bank , Stefani Jackman, Partner at Ballard Spahr and Walker White, CEO of Oliver Technology.

In the meantime, here is a brief review of the five failure points and recommended fixes.

Failure #1: The Data is Fractured
Antiquated data formats and data collection with limited access across the parties.

Creditors system of record comes in many forms. While standards exist, many were designed decades ago and they are not flexible enough to handle dynamic environments like we see today. Additionally, due to the number of sources and systems, these processes raise the risk of inaccurate or incomplete information, either for the Creditor deciding if a particular account is suit-worthy, or for the law firm taking action upon it. We have an opportunity to improve in this area and really modernize.

The Fix: A modern, holistic Platform
360° view of data across all relevant parties

There are three key categories to fixing a fractured data model.

  • Consolidation: Bring the data together into a litigation master record visible to all parties; don’t just throw it over the fence.
  • Automation: Use modern technology to automate many of the tasks you perform manually like loading data, transforming data, cleansing data and even redaction of documents that we want to share with various parties.
  • Accessible: Using proper permissions, having the ability to share the same data with all interested parties, making it more functional for everyone.

Failure #2: Operating on Disparate Platforms
Inconsistent, ineffective file management impacts cost and risk

Historically, there’s a lot of data and systems involved. Files are tossed over the fence to law firms to operate inside local matter management system and codes are sent back and forth. Matter-specific communication is often relegated to separate emails, texts, and phone calls. It’s inefficient. It also creates potential compliance risks for creditors and law firms, as they are updated about changes after the fact. Any time you lack a master record – a single source of truth – you leak value and efficiency from the process.

The Fix: Collaboration and execution in a single streamlined platform
Management of all activity by all involved parties within the context of the file.

Here are the critical capabilities needed to move from a disparate system to an agile solution:

  • Collaboration: Create a single place that holds the litigation master record, accessible to all parties all the time, allowing near real-time interaction.
  • Orchestration: Effectively automate the many handoffs, approvals, and reviews to accelerate the process and capture a standardize audit of the “who, what and where” of each transfer.
  • Visibility: End-to-end visibility for creditors of the entire channel.

Failure #3: Efficiently Maintaining Rigorous Compliance
Maintaining compliance requirements has increased the need for more FTEs, while slowing time to revenue.

Keeping up with all the federal, state, local and venue specific laws, rules and procedures is a huge cost to manage. Since the formation of the CFPB, the amount of quality control checks and audit requirements have grown exponentially. And currently, there’s just no easy fix. You either hire more people or you slow down the volume.

The Fix: A Platform with Compliance Built-in
All federal, state, local and venue specific laws plus all regulatory, creditor and law firm rules and procedures are built into one platform and managed across the channel.

With the technology that exists today, there’s absolutely no reason we cannot codify these rules. So, let’s start there:

  • Codify Compliance: Think about Turbo Tax, which codified the tax laws to make it very simple for someone to file taxes. The same is possible with the laws, rules, and procedures that govern collections.
  • Simplify Audit: Pairing codified compliance with a single system that allows for a comprehensive audit makes rigorous compliance a breeze because each step and timing is documented, including attorney meaningful involvement.
  • Customization: Compliance is a framework, but there are many paths to maintain it; law firms must maintain the ability to practice the “art of litigation” while preserving a consistent approach from the creditor to the consumer.

Failure #4: Litigation Lacks Economy of Scale
Individual law firms maintain their own knowledge base making it difficult for creditors to scale within and across states.

Since creditors partner with law firms in each state, essential business logic about how to litigate in a given state is distributed and is not accessible to the creditor. This makes it difficult for creditors to develop a consistent process across the channel to achieve an economy of scale. When a creditor can integrate law firms onto one platform using a consistent litigation process all parties realize an economy of scale. Even more, creditors are provided end-to-end visibility and control of the process.

The Fix: A Platform with integrated law firm knowledge
Integrate law firm knowledge into a consistent litigation process on a shared platform.

Let’s look at three ways to fix this problem:

  • Standardize: allows creditors to capture all data during pre-placement and then share that data based on the needs of the firm and states.
  • Consolidate: Bring law firms onto a single operational platform or set of processes.
  • Visibility: Provide dynamic and comprehensive dashboards for creditors to be able to see how those files are moving and either assist the firms to keep them going, or bounce them to another firm that can move the file faster.

Failure #5: Stalled Inventory
Stalled files equate to lost revenue. When the percentage of stalled files increases, profitability dwindles.

Today, inventory is distributed to individual law firms in batches. With limited to no oversight of all files across the channel, inventory can become buried or under-utilized. Each file has many moving parts and inevitably, active files garner the most attention, while higher value files may go unnoticed.

The Fix: Automation of Inventory Management
Automating inventory is a new solution, in a unique way, to a common problem.

Let’s look at three ways to fix this problem:

  • Actionable views: A consolidated view allows all relevant parties to see which files are active and which are not. By adding actionable and consumable views of inventory, creditors can rely less on people and more on automation to keep files moving.
  • File Granularity: Workflows should be based on individual files verses pools/batches. A platform should automatically manipulate, test and compare individual matters to determine if the file should be placed and then evaluate multiple variables of data simultaneously to make a data driven decision regarding where to strategically place files. Automatically processing files to the next step is critical to prevent inventory from stalling; yet some files need human interaction, requiring the platform to flag those files and automatically notify the appropriate person that action is needed.
  • Visibility: Better visualization ensures more inventory will move in a consistent manner to create more value. When a creditor can visualize the value of each file (including the stage each file is in and why files are not advancing) they can proactively address issues like rebalancing load across firms or rebalancing files based on probability of success. Creditors need a comprehensive view of the inventory and an agile platform that can quickly modify the flow of inventory to generate higher value.

Think about it. With your business under a microscope of regulators, most creditors are forced to manage their business with caution. While the debt is mounting, the pressure is building. At some point, the storm is going to pass, and the economy will expand. Now is the time to re-tool your collections litigation process into an agile system so you can cost-effectively scale your operation to capture more revenue in a shorter timeframe when the opportunity arises.

Learn more with a 360° view from a creditor, lawyer and technology experts on conquering these failures.

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