Introducing Culture to Collections

Understanding culture in financial services and the collections industry is key to knowing how to change it for the better

TDX Group has been collecting debt since 2004 and we’re the largest debt intermediary in the UK with offices in Spain, Australia and Canada. We help creditors with debt collection activities and the largest part of our business is being a panel manager - that’s where clients place their accounts that are in debt with us and we help decide what action should be taken and what treatment should be applied to help the customer repay. Once we know the right path we use qualified and registered debt collection agencies across the UK. Each week we place around 100,000 customers to our panel who in turn create one million outbound communications to try and help customers resolve their arrears.

What is culture?

The best definition we’ve heard is “it’s the way we do things round here”. It’s the behaviour and beliefs that permeate everything within your organisation. As an employee, a good culture will lift you up but a bad culture can drown you. Organisations are not perfect but they should have a good heart and, as consumers, we should be confident that actions are taken with good intent even if they don't get everything right. Good cultured organisations are honest when they need to be and they say sorry when they need to.

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast, operational excellence for lunch and everything else for dinner.” – Peter Drucker

There are still a number of companies out that believe culture is important because the regulator says so. And whilst the FCA is very clear about a company’s culture and the price for failure, it’s not just the financial impact these companies need to be aware of if it goes wrong. A bad culture leads to bad processes, customer treatment and customer outcomes. In today’s society there’s also added external pressure from the media and social media for getting this wrong. It’s safe to say that your culture really matters both inside and out.

Culture is something that starts right at the top, it gets set and distributed out to partners, suppliers and beyond. If you're a CEO or leader of an organisation and the leader of a c-suite or management team, you unfortunately will have to bear the brunt of this responsibility. One quick and simple way to test your culture is to consider your incentives - how are you, as a leader, incentivising your team’s behaviours? What do you praise and what do you not? Incentives drive behaviour, good and bad.

Regardless of what you might see across some company’s websites, culture isn't defined by value statements on a wall. Good culture is alive, it's in everything you do whether that’s face to face, on a video call, in your next email or even in your next decision. Everyone within a business has a part to play but they’ll be led from the top, even the influence of your own team or direct manager can affect the micro culture. If you’re a manager, people will look at what you do and follow your actions and, as we know, actions speak louder than words.

For those looking to improve the culture right in collections we’ve highlighted two ways we believe this can be achieved. Find them on part 2 of this blog