The cat is out of the bag. Leslie Bender has shared one of her guiltiest of guilty pleasures. It was apparently not a well-known secret that she loves the outdoors. In fact, she says, colleagues and co-workers often make it a point to call her when she is hiking or walking. What was a secret, until now, is that she tracks how much she walks in a year and then tries to beat that total. This year, she has already walked 2,300 kilometers (more than 1,400 miles), and should easily surpass the 2,700km (1,700 miles) she walked last year. For someone who is one of the most respected members of the ARM industry, she has definitely walked a mile in many people’s shoes. Read on to learn more about Leslie.
Name: Leslie Bender
Company: BCA Financial Services, Inc.
Length of time at current company: 10 months
Length of time in industry: 34 years
How did you get your start in the industry?
When I graduated from law school I was fortunate to work for a wonderful Baltimore law firm that represented a wide range of clients including some of the area non-profit hospitals. As the youngest associate I was trained “on the job” by handling collections matters in small claims court for the firm’s clients.
What is your career highlight so far?
My career highlight so far has been to see younger compliance officers and attorneys who I’ve been privileged to work with step into positions of increasing responsibility in the industry.
Which industry professional do you admire most?
That is easy: Mark Davitt the CEO of ConServe. Mark is an unbelievable and inspirational corporate and community leader, trailblazer in industry financial literacy projects, and a cool parent (now even grandparent). With little fuss and a lot of quiet grace he embodies integrity, compassion, and dedication to developing talent in his organization and among his clients and peers.
What is one thing you do better than everyone else?
Hmmmm. I am pretty skilled at laughing at my own mistakes. I have a fair amount of practice.
When or how are you most productive?
I am most productive on long walks or hikes. Many of my clients, colleagues and co-workers make it a point to join me or call me when I’m on a hike or walk.
What do you like most about this industry?
There are many things that fall into the category “things I like most about this industry.” Here are two. First, I’ve been very fortunate to have met and worked with amazing hard-working, smart, caring and compassionate entrepreneurs from not only all over the U.S., but internationally. Second, I do believe that folks in the credit and collections industry are most often caring consumer advocates working to help consumers resolve issues related to credit and debt.
What is one thing you wish you could change about this industry?
If I had a magic wand (and unicorn) I wish I could change the brand/reputation associated with being a debt collector. I wish the public saw debt collectors as more of a helping profession. I applaud ACA’s ICL and InsideARM’s CRC for their efforts in this area.
If you weren’t in this industry, what would you be doing?
If I weren’t in this industry I think I would be working in adult education. I enjoy taking complex laws, regulations or other subject matter and figuring out how to organize it into straightforward, practical educational content for folks who need to put it to use.
Describe a typical work day.
My typical work day is unpredictable and no two are ever the same. I’ve been very fortunate in the past five or 10 years to not only have the privilege of holding an in-house corporate legal/compliance position but also to handle government and regulatory affairs. A day may involve working with a consumer group to develop educational content for brochures or a webinar, preparing for and attending a change management meeting, defending a lawsuit, and crafting some form of legal documentation. I love change and the fact that my typical work day usually involves some unexpected events.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Regardless of the time of year, day or location — I enjoy being outdoors hiking, running or walking (and it is even better if I can listen to a book while doing so). I secretly (well, probably not when you publish this) compete against my own prior year’s number of kilometers walked, run and/or hiked. Last year: 2,700 kilometers. This year: 2,300 kilometers and counting.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
What are you currently reading?
Jeffrey Deaver’s The Burial Hour.
What is one fact you’d like everyone in the industry to know about you?
I’m grateful for all the wonderful advice and opportunities I have had in the credit and collections industry.
Who else would you like to see answer these questions?
Rick Perr, ACA’s incoming president, and Debra Ciskey, Wakefield’s Chief Compliance Officer.