If not for having a friend in a running club, Judd Peak may never have made it to the collections industry. A recommendation from a friend, who was a member of a running club with George Buck, the former president of Frost-Arnett Company, helped transition Peak from a private practice attorney to the collections industry. Read on to learn more about Peak.
Name: W. Judd Peak
Company: Frost-Arnett Company
Length of time at current company: 3 years
Length of time in industry: Specific to credit and collections, only 3 years. Prior to that I spent 15 years as an attorney specializing in (of all things) labor and employment law.
How did you get your start in the industry?
In 2014, Frost-Arnett was looking to create and modernize a large-scale compliance program in response to a lot of the new regulatory and legal challenges that have cropped up in our industry the past few years. I was an attorney working in private practice at the time, and a good friend was in a running club with Frost-Arnett’s then-President, George Buck. Apparently, I was recommended to George as someone who could lead the compliance initiatives, because he cold-called me one day to discuss the opportunity. After a decade and a half of law practice, I was ready to take on a new professional challenge.
What is your career highlight so far?
Building our compliance department to a productive, workable going concern. After three years at the helm I feel that we finally have it in a good place to manage risk and grow alongside the company.
Which industry profession do you admire most?
George Buck gave me an opportunity in this industry for which I will be forever grateful. He has a wealth of knowledge and experience that I try to tap into daily. Also, John Bedard was one of the first people I met after starting in my current position. He taught me the CFPB readiness course at ACA a few years ago, and struck me as vastly knowledgeable as well as imminently creative in legal matters. Since then my interactions with him have only reinforced my initial positive impression.
What is one thing you do better than everyone else?
I think I do a lot of little things pretty well but not necessarily one thing best. I suppose I take pride in being able to work within a team and reconcile internal differences in an organization – very much an important soft skill, both in business and in life.
When or how are you most productive?
Early mornings and late nights are always the most productive times for me. Something about the middle of the day must make my mind wander.
What do you like most about this industry?
I really enjoy how collections touches upon nearly every aspect of the economy – there is a “revenues” component in each industry. I like how our service can become value added for a wide host of other industries.
What is one thing you wish you could change about this industry?
Increase the knowledge and appreciation of regulatory/governmental influences. When I first began working in my position, I had little understanding for the complexity of regulations that confront the debt collection industry. To thrive within this reality, I believe agencies must become more corporatized and institute more common standards of practice. The small, under-the-radar agencies will need to conform or they won’t be able to compete in the future.
If you weren’t in this industry, what would you be doing?
Ideally, I would be a college professor teaching economics. In reality – still an attorney.
Describe a typical work day.
My day would be boring to an observer, but is always interesting to me. Early routine is coffee, check email, and see if any fires need to be put out. Then, I get to brainstorm and work with my team to seek creative ways to make our organization better. I always have a list of projects that need to be touched upon most days, which fills the bulk of my time.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Movies. I’m very much a cinephile. Although, having children has skewed the typical genre to more Disney-type fare the last few years.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Stress is not necessarily something to be avoided. Stress can be a great motivator, help you prioritize tasks, and get you to work early. Use it as a force for good rather than let it bog you down and become destructive.
What are you currently reading?
I am re-reading The Executive And The Elephant by Dick Daft, one of my professors in business school. It’s very helpful in identifying those personal traits that inhibit your professional growth, and developing means to overcome them. I highly recommend it.
What is one fact you’d like everyone in the industry to know about you?
I am a slobbering, obnoxious University of Kentucky fan. Go ‘Cats!
Who else would you like to see answer these questions?
Mike Frost at CBE Group. He has led a lot of legal and compliance initiatives at his company and has great insight into the issues facing our industry.