Getting to Know Nathan Willner of the National Creditors Bar Association

The “Getting to Know” series is sponsored by Arbeit. Arbeit is a powerful, and easy to use communications platform that empowers businesses to reach more consumers. Innovative by nature, we are constantly listening to and understanding the businesses we partner with and developing long term industry relationships that allow us to be proactive in anticipating industry needs.

There are people for whom, if you didn’t know what they did for a living, you’d be able to make a pretty good guess based on reading their answers to these questions. If you skipped over the Job Title answer in this profile and kept reading, it would become pretty clear pretty quickly that Nathan Willner is someone who was made for being a Government Affairs Officer. Even he acknowledges that if he were not working at NCBA, he would be a Government Affairs Officer somewhere else. Read on to learn more about Nathan and why coalitions and finding common ground are what get him out of bed in the morning.

Name: Nathan D. Willner, JD
Company: National Creditors Bar Association (NCBA)
Job Title: Government Affairs Officer
Length of time at current position: 16 months
Length of time in industry: 18 years

How did you get your start in the industry?
As an attorney since 1990, I had a general practice representing clients in personal injury, criminal, consumer bankruptcy and other general matters. Approximately 18 years ago, I was approached by an individual who had purchased a large portfolio of consumer debt from a bankruptcy trustee. Since I had bankruptcy experience, he felt that I could be helpful in representing his company in the recovery of these defaulted accounts. In short order I built out a creditors rights litigation department and became part of the industry.

What is your career highlight so far?
There have been many moments that I have been honored to experience, but the ones that stand out were when I was selected to participate on two CFPB SBREFA panels. One regarding arbitration and one regarding the pending debt collection rules. Engaging on behalf of the industry at the highest level was definitely one of the highlights I am proud of.

When or how are you most productive?
I am most productive when engaging with legislators and regulators, telling the industry’s story and advocating for creditors rights attorneys and industry.

Which industry professional do you admire most?
When I started to practice in this space, I was looking for industry associations where I could both learn and network. I joined them all, but where I felt most at home was at NCBA (then NARCA). My first conference was in Orlando and attorney Chuck Pona of Weltman was sworn in as the organization’s President. I was impressed with Chuck’s breadth of knowledge, demeanor and expertise. Since then I have continued to be impressed with his level of professionalism and especially his steadfast support of the industry and the practice of law. Weltman’s legal challenge dealing with the CFPB and ultimately prevailing continues to impress me and Chuck is definitely an industry attorney who I admire.

What is one thing you do better than everyone else?
I love to build relationships and find common ground even among those that may at first glance be seen as a natural adversary. I try to find the best in everyone I interact with and encourage colleagues and friends to assume leadership roles.

What do you like most about this industry?
My colleagues are attorneys who represent the highest level of ethics and professionalism in consumer finance. Creditors rights attorneys’ conduct is among the most regulated and scrutinized in the financial industry, which means how we communicate and interact with consumers is precisely defined.

What is one thing you wish you could change about this industry?
The false narrative that our industry is not interested in compliance and consumers rights. The assistance given to consumers daily by all facets of the industry seems to be overlooked. Our industry works diligently to communicate, educate and assist consumers about their options and more often than not find compromise in assisting consumers deal with their financial situation.

If you weren’t in this industry, what would you be doing?
I absolutely love what I do and find it an honor to advocate for the members of the National Creditors Bar Association. Even if not employed in this particular role, I would inevitably be engaged in government relations and advocacy trying to be part of the solution and not the problem.

Describe a typical work day.
The best part of a typical day is that it is not typical. Engaging with members and issues across the country, no two days are alike. A typical day can include moderating educational briefings, drafting position articles, communicating with elected officials, and working with industry coalitions on related issues.

What is your guilty pleasure?
I love spending time with family and especially my granddaughters.

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What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
If you want to be successful you need to be sincere about the issues important to you. Sincerity is the one trait that even if folks disagree with your position they will always respect.

What are you currently reading?
Not in my Neighborhood: How Bigotry Shaped a Great American City”, by Antero Pietila. The book relays the sometimes painful history of Baltimore and could not be a more timely read.

What is one fact you’d like everyone in the industry to know about you?
I am always looking to learn from others, build coalitions, relationships, and open to listening to all ideas.

The “Getting to Know” series is sponsored by Arbeit. Arbeit is a powerful, and easy to use communications platform that empowers businesses to reach more consumers. Innovative by nature, we are constantly listening to and understanding the businesses we partner with and developing long term industry relationships that allow us to be proactive in anticipating industry needs.

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