Kansas Welcomes TrueAccord: COO Sheila Monroe Discusses Automated Debt Recovery Sector Growth

TrueAccord, an automated debt recovery platform, has partnered with Lenexa, Kansas for its new shared services operation, committed to investing $1.34 million with a plan to expand to over 150 professionals over the next three years across sales, operations and technology functions.

“We chose the greater Kansas City area after a thorough nationwide search. We reviewed factors such as ease of travel, cost of doing business and the local culture. Ultimately, our decision came down to the ability to attract top talent to meet our growing business needs,” noted TrueAccord COO Sheila Monroe. “The expansion and our new team members will help to further the TrueAccord mission to modernize and improve the debt recovery marketplace.”

Headquartered in Silicon Valley, TrueAccord’s data driven tech platform uses machine learning, behavioral analytics and a humanistic approach aims to improve debt recovery rates and reduce compliance risk, while giving customers the best user experience possible.

Founded in 2013, TrueAccord seeks to bridge the gap between the creditor and the roughly 77 million Americans who have debt in collection. To date, TrueAccord has raised over $30M in venture capital, counts top banks as its customers, reaches 4.5M consumers, has more than $4B of debt on the platform and has recovered more than $100M for its clients. Clients include yelp, LendUp and UpWork.

Crowdfund Insider reached out to TrueAccord COO Monroe via email for more details about the sector, including the current state of the debt recovery system, how the sector has changed in the last few years, especially as fintech has advanced and continues to advance.  Our interview follows:

Crowdfund Insider: Can you discuss how the debt recovery system has changed in the last few years, especially as fintech has advanced and continues to advance?

Sheila Monroe: The debt collection industry is aware, more than ever, that the phone calling channel continues to be one of diminishing returns and increasing regulatory scrutiny.  As a result, there is an invigorating interest in updating technology and communication channels that align more effectively with the way consumers want to engage today.  While many are thinking of email as “cheap letters” tied to rudimentary online payment sites, consumers expect digital-first, mobile-first services that fit their needs for flexibility and personalized communications.

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That is where technology and machine learning come in.  At TrueAccord we use machine learning to drive the right message, tone and offer to consumers and create a digital dialogue using dynamic email-first and web content that empowers consumers to self-solve and self-serve to resolve their debts. Consumers engage when they want to, where they want to, using their device of choice to set up payment arrangements that fit irregular payment schedules. They have learned to expect a lot of their financial service providers and debt collection is following that trend.

Long term, we will see more choice in debt collection as consumers will be empowered to select who they work with, and how, to build the financial lives they want for themselves. It is a huge departure from traditional, call and collect models that focused on harvesting fees more than being enablers for the consumer’s financial goals.

CI: Which issues have you seen to both foment and stagnate growth?

Monroe: Debt collection is a highly regulated industry. For years it’s been able to operate and grow using outdated methods and with limited oversight. That’s changing: major shifts in consumer preference and power and as well as increased regulation are putting tremendous pressure on old operating models.  This has impacted margins in the industry and resulted in consolidation of traditional agencies. The world has changed and many traditional players have failed to adapt to it.  So while we see a consolidation of traditional collection agencies, we will also see new entrants who have come alive to the possibility of filling the void with technology, both in effort to optimize digital communication and in creating new services to connect businesses who collect money with consumers who owe money. New consumer behaviors, aided and amplified by technology, represent a huge opportunity for growth in our sector.

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CI: What disruptions do you anticipate and aim to lead in AI and transparency during the next year or two?

Monroe: In the digital age, with an absolute overload of information and guidance available online, many consumers are starved for a more personalized, individually intuitive relationship when it comes to handling financial interactions. TrueAccord will find more ways to connect with our clients’ customers in their specific channel of choice and time of convenience.  We’ll find ways to add value to the client-customer lifecycle and be a trusted brand beyond the repayment cycle. As AI becomes more accurate and more able to mimic human interactions, we’ll be able to deploy experiences that handle tense emotional situations, effectively convey empathy, and focus on financial health. AI is well suited to provide personalized, data driven, consistently great UX at scale, and we’re going to see a lot more of those applications in the future.

As #AI becomes more accurate and more able to mimic human interactions, we’ll be able to deploy experiences that handle tense emotional situations, effectively convey empathy, and focus on financial health.'… Click to Tweet

CI: Please comment further on the need for more “compassion” in fintech.

Monroe: It depends on how the word “compassion” is being defined. At TrueAccord we like to say that we lead with empathy. The ability to understand the other and adapt solutions to meet their particular preferences and needs, is in the core of our product development philosophy. We focus on enabling others by offering choice, convenience, and superb customer experience that enables them to make those decisions with relative ease. Empathy, the ability to understand their perspective, is key in doing so.

'At @TrueAccord we like to say that we lead with empathy.' Click to Tweet

CI: Please comment on women in fintech and how you are leading the charge for change.

Monroe: I believe that diversity is about representation. As a senior leader in an innovative growth company, my public presence hopefully serves as inspiration for women early in their career who struggle to imagine a professional path for themselves. I worked hard to get to where I am and am now in a position to lift others. The diverse and inclusive culture we built and are fostering at TrueAccord is testament that it’s possible, in fintech as well as any other sector. As we expand beyond the SF Bay area, we have further opportunity to integrate additional aspects of US culture into the fabric of our company. It excites me to think of our company as an enabler of this change and a torch bearer of diverse and inclusive work cultures.

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