Industry Experts Share the Word That Defined 2021 For Them

If you had to look back on everything that happened to you and to the accounts receivable management industry in 2021 and summarize it in one word, what word would you choose? asked a number of luminaries from across the industry to do just that. Here are the words they chose and the reasons why they chose them.

Leslie Bender, Clark Hill

Change. At some point in 2021 as vaccinations became more available and things migrated to a “next normal” as the media has dubbed this time we are in, federal and state governments remained keenly focused on the economic impact and hardships occasioned by the pandemic. With caution folks attempted to step away from virtual calls and meetings to gather in person while trying to navigate the labyrinth of moratoriums, emergency proclamations, and of course the advent of regulatory clarity under the FDCPA, “Reg F.” As 2021 winds down, and as we watch COVID cases climb again (hopefully temporarily), we note the flexibility of the credit and collections industry, whether working remotely or in some hybrid manner as it rededicates itself to the continuous improvement of its processes and activities to assure it is collecting the right amount, from the right consumer, while honoring consumers’ communication preferences.

Lauren Valenzuela, Actuate Law

Disruption. The disruption caused by COVID continued well into 2021, and paved the way for more disruption. Regulation F disrupted many aspects of well settled practices (e.g., the validation notice, call frequency, how email is used, etc.), Hunstein disrupted how we look at vendor relationships, new states laws from coast to coast disrupted more collection practices, the Great Resignation has disrupted how companies think about retaining employees, etc. However, disruption is not all bad. Disruption’s twin sibling is INNOVATION and innovation has been brewing in the background for a while. I’m an optimist – so I’m rooting for 2022 to be the year of innovation!

Brit Suttell, Barron & Newburger

While many were hoping for a calmer 2021 after the tumultuous year that was 2020, the ARM industry received anything but calm in 2021. While the lead up to Reg. F’s effective date is the freshest memory, nobody will be forgetting the name “Hunstein” anytime soon. In a word, I would describe 2021 as a “quagmire” since one of the definitions (an awkward, complex, or hazardous situation) fits quite well. In my opinion, 2021 was all three of those things!

Patrick Newman, Bassford Remele

So let me get this straight — you want a lawyer to reduce 2021 to a single-word descriptor? A year marked by political and social upheaval and historic change in all facets of American life? In which we collectively experienced the bumps and twists of the CFPB’s implementation of a debt collection rule nearly a decade in the making? That saw us robbed of the comedic genius of Norm Macdonald and the imperial beard and bass stylings of Dusty Hill in a 12-month stretch?

One word?

Ok, here you go: defenestrate. See you all in 2022.

Melissa Nash, CheckMark Collections

If I had to describe 2021 in one word I would be “Magic 8 Ball, …”. And throughout the year one of the 20 sided answers would appear. There are 10 positive answers, 5 vague and 5 negative answers (little trivia).

Student Loan Forgiveness: “BETTER NOT TELL YOU NOW”

So what does Magic 8 Ball say today about 2022 at CheckMark Collections: “IT IS CERTAIN.”

Todd Santa Maria, VoApps

This year has been chaotic for the industry, given the lingering pandemic, Hunstein and Reg F prep, but I have been impressed by the way this ever-adjusting industry has adapted. I’m proud of the effort and conviction that has brought our clients and friends through the toughest times. The whole world has been stumped by the one common catastrophe we all face, but the ARM industry has faced three, and so far appears to be coming out just fine. I have read that the word for 2021 is “resilience” because it implies hope, faith and possibilities. I won’t steal that one though I think it is spot-on. Instead I will choose the word “retooling” because 2021 accelerated change in so many areas and in the act of adapting, the industry has been forced to adopt new technology faster than ever. In turn, the technologists have been forced to come up with more creative solutions at a faster rate than ever. When the dust settles and we are on the other side, I think we’ll all look around and see that our businesses are more prepared than ever for the new environment. We’re happy to be a small part of the retooling

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