Credit Strategy brought together winners of individual categories at the Credit Awards from the past eight years, who may well shape best practice and processes of the future. Amber-Ainsley Pritchard reports on their career journeys and aspirations.
Close to reaching two decades old, the Credit Awards have been championing the brightest individuals in the industry for the past 17 years.
Each year we usually have more than 150 finalists, with panel of judges from the UK’s largest financial institutions and trade bodies, to discuss and hand pick the worthy winners.
Credit Strategy sought the views of precocious individual winners from previous years, to discover their career journeys since winning and the changes they’d like to see in how things are done in collections
Head of excellence and improvement at AXA
Without changing desks I’ve gone from working in a start-up with a handful of employees to working for a global organisation.”
Helen Richardson has worked her way up in the organisation that started as Swiftcover and is now known as AXA, the multinational insurance firm. In 2012 she won the Consumer Credit Manager of the Year Award when in the role of business and finance manager.
Since being recognised for her work, Richardson has progressed to the title of ‘head of excellence and improvement’ where she controls the customer accounts team and has responsibility for several departments that drive the delivery of excellent customer service.
Last year, her remit increased to include ‘voice of the customer’, and she has since began to work on ways to identify and resolve, as quickly as possible, the themes of dissatisfaction in customer feedback.
Richardson believes the UK’s “heavy” regulation can result in confusion for customers. She said: “If I could change anything, it would be for regulation to be more aligned with customer needs and be more supportive of the delivery of customer service that is both transparent and helpful.”
Aspirations for the future will see Richardson stay loyal to AXA as she looks for more opportunities within the business.
Associate at Shoosmiths
Recognised as a ‘Rising Star’ within the industry when only a trainee solicitor, Daniel Bennett is now an associate at law firm Shoosmiths and manages his own team in Birmingham.
In 2013, six months before becoming a fully qualified solicitor, Bennett was handpicked for the award based on his attention to detail and solution-driven legal advice which judges said made him stand out.
Bennett said he would like to explore the improvements that can be made within the financial promotions regime to improve clarity for consumers and reduce complexity for finance providers.
An important determining factor in winning this award, explained by both Bennett and the judges, was down to his development of a financial promotion review service for several major lenders.
Bennett added: “The award raised my profile and resulted in a number of requests to provide financial promotions training and expertise both to industry bodies and new clients.”
Team leader of the sensitive cases team at Lowell
Another industry role model in the business of treating customers fairly is Tracey Bailey, a team leader in the sensitive cases team at GFKL Lowell Group.
Bailey has been working for the debt purchaser since 2004 and won the Consumer Collector of the Year Award in 2009 when working as a collections negotiator.
In the award application Michelle Dunn, operational training manager at the time, said: “She (Tracey) has the ability to identify very quickly what needs to change in the negotiator’s negotiation style and help them with the transformation. There is no one more deserving of the accolade ‘Consumer Collector of the Year’ than Tracey.”
The position she now carries out at Lowell has seen her set up two sensitive and vulnerable care teams in which she leads one team of 14.
Bailey said: “It’s important to provide support to the staff below me to help them understand how to treat customers as people who have life and personal problems to deal with and not just debt.”
Working to help treat customers fairly in financial services is the sector Bailey will continue to work in because, in her words, she “100 percent loves” doing this job.
Compliance manager at Cabot Credit Management
Another previous winner of the Rising Star Award, Steve Perring, has worked his way up with debt purchaser Cabot Credit Management since 2007.
He won the award in 2014 when working as a compliance officer and has now progressed to compliance manager. Perring is one of the rare individuals across the industry who enjoys some of the challenges within the world of compliance.
Describing the win as reaching a career goal, winning the award improved Perring’s confidence. He said he would previously question the ability of his work, considering his young age for the role.
Regulatory specialist at Vodacom Congo (RDC) South Africa
Nikye Bahati won the Rising Star Award in 2012 while working as a senior legal collector at debt recovery agency Moreton Smith.
Although no longer active in the collections and recoveries industry, her new role focusses on regulation within the telecoms industry.
Shortly after winning the award Bahati became a regulatory specialist at telecoms company Vodacom Congo (RDC) South Africa, a subsidiary of Vodacom South Africa.
She said: “I have developed a passion for the telecommunications industry and its rapid growth. I am fascinated and empowered by technological developments and the link between technology and poverty eradication in third world countries.”
Bahati explained that the Credit Awards create credibility around a candidate’s experience and potential. She said this is partly down to the fact the scheme is authentic and that entries are assessed by external stakehodlers.
Compliance assistant at Phillips & Cohen Associates (UK)
The awards scheme in 2014 awarded another young man who has gone on to carry out compliance roles which he said he thoroughly enjoys.
Jamie Hesford was granted the Consumer Collector of the Year Award for his work at the time as a customer contact representative at credit company Robinson Way. Shortly after winning the award he was promoted to trainee team manager at the firm.
Two years later he decided to use his knowledge to explore a new role at deceased accounts management specialist Phillips & Cohen Associates. Here he is a compliance assistant with ambitions to progress to management level.
Described as a symbol of recognition, Hesford said: “The award is a great achievement to have on my CV.”
This year the Credit Awards will once again take place at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London, May 11. To book a table at the awards, or to enquire about sponsorship, call Louis on 0207 940 4805.