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Spirits High as RMAI Opens Annual Conference

LAS VEGAS — If the mood on the opening day of RMA International’s annual conference was any higher yesterday, then the event might have been better held atop the Eiffel Tower at the Paris Las Vegas across the street from the host venue instead of at the Aria.

Attendees from companies large and small were all smiles and in great spirits yesterday as RMA opened its 22nd annual conference. Similar to past years, concerns about regulatory overreach and a dwindling supply of portfolios were gone and replaced with conversations about how last year was perhaps the best year ever, and how this year could be even better.

Sessions from working with debt settlement companies to making sure ethics are the cornerstone of a compliance management system were overflowing with attendees.

While there was plenty of talk about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s decision to launch a survey related to debt collection disclosures and how that will impact the timing of its proposed rule, there were also a lot of conversations that continued to express continued optimism for the prospects for debt buyers of all shapes and sizes. At least four different debt buyers confirmed that their profits and returns in 2018 were better than any other year, and each also indicated that 2019 is shaping up to top those figures.

Issuers who have been sitting on the sidelines for a number of years are getting back into the market, said one attendee, and that has invigorated a market that has been crying out for more portfolios.

One potential compliance concern on the horizon for the credit and collection industry is privacy and data security. Don Maurice from Maurice Wutscher and Kelly Knepper-Stephens from TrueAccord spent much of their two-hour presentation on ethics in debt buying on the topics of data security and privacy. An influx in the number of lawsuits related to collection letters was also a focus during the session.

“You’re in a high-risk business,” Maurice said during his session. “There’s no answer [about what should be in a letter to avoid being sued]. You can’t avoid suits. You can just try to do better.”

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