Charitable giving is an important core value at MRS, and one that gives us a great deal of joy. Every year around the holidays, we hold a food drive for a local charity to help those in need. This year, we gathered over 100 bags of food and donated them to the JFCS Betsy & Peter Fischer Food Pantries in Cherry Hill, NJ.
“I’m always inspired by the generosity of my co-workers,” said Jordan Miller, MRS’s coordinator of the food drive. “This is completely voluntary, so to accumulate over 100 bags of food for those in need says a lot about the MRS family. I’m really proud of how we continue to outdo ourselves every year!”
Michael Meyer, MRS’s compliance guru, who is responsible for Risk Management and Security for the organization, was named to Georgetown’s THE HOYA PROFESSIONAL 30, which honors graduate students for academic and professional achievement.
Meyer is currently enrolled in Georgetown’s graduate program, working on his Masters in Professional Services with a focus on Technology Management. He expects to complete this program in the Spring of 2019.
He currently holds the following certifications in IT Security: CISSP, CIPP/US, CIPM, FIP, CISM, CRVPM I & II and CISA.
More information about this program can be found at the link below.
In 2013, MRS BPO put on its walking shoes and joined with American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer organization to raise money for Breast Cancer research. Every year, Making Strides organizes walks throughout America to raise awareness and funds that save lives from breast cancer.
Since 2013, we have raised over $70,000 for Making Strides. This year, MRS reached a new fundraising high, generating over $15,000 at our New Jersey, Ohio and Alabama offices.
Our fundraising starts in the summer where we offer the opportunity to buy the right to dress casually through the month of October. Then in October, we get serious.
Throughout the month, the staff holds food and breast cancer bracelet
sales, and a 50/50 raffle that generate excitement and money. The grand finale is held on Halloween, which features employees in costumes, a pumpkin decorating contest, a work area decorating competition, and our very popular Gift Basket Auction where each department donates a gift basket for auction and winners are selected in a drawing. This year, lucky winners went home with baskets full of food, wine, home goods, a cake made of dollar bills and even a brand new Sony PS4 gaming unit. The lucky 50/50 winner claimed over $1,000! A group of MRS employees participated in the annual walk in Camden County, New Jersey, which was held on October 28th.
“We know that collections is a tough job, so we always try to do things that are fun and rewarding for the employees. From day one, our employees embraced this fund-raising project and they continue to outdo themselves each year,” remarked Regina Weir, Chief Personnel Officer, who first got MRS involved in Making Strides over six years ago.
MRS is an organization that places a very high premium on charitable giving and our October celebration always brings out the best in our employees. Their spirit, generosity and sense of humor continue to inspire us and make MRS a great place to work. To learn more about Making Strides for Breast Cancer, go to www.MakingStridesWalk.org.
Debt collection has always been a linear model, starting with face-to-face contact in the early days and eventually transitioning to today’s call center-based industry. This old line of thinking is being rendered obsolete by technology, which is driving a shift to multi-channel communication. Traditional contact strategies are being supplemented by text, email, and chat. Sadly, few in our industry are harnessing technology to reach customers through their preferred platform.
There’s an app for everything and young adults are accustomed to operating through the screen. MRS Executive Vice President of Information Technology Eric Pili says, “From a technology standpoint, collections will become expansively more self-service. Younger generations are tech savvy. Phone calls and business hours are going to be a thing of the past. Communications will shift toward text messages, chats, self-help portals, virtual assistants and web apps.”
The shift towards multi-channel will open up many different pathways for people to communicate with companies and pay their debts. MRS understands the importance of this change in the industry. Chief Customer Officer Chris Repholz says, “We’ve already seen a number of positive changes since we’ve launched our multi-channel strategy. Individuals who have consistently ignored telephone calls and ‘snail mail’ have responded positively to email and texts.”
Legislation remains ambiguous because the verbiage is outdated and fails to account for rapid technological advances. Even with this added challenge, MRS distinguishes itself. Repholz says, “Since we use compliance as a strategy for our phone based work, we decided that the same approach will work well with digital channels and we set out to create a multi-channel solution that is compliant with the FDCPA and the TCPA. The industry cannot continue to be telephone focused and must keep up with customer contact preferences, but do it in a lawful and compliant manner.”
Omni-channel communication is the future. MRS wants to offer customers many choices through which to be contacted. Repholz says, “MRS spends a good deal of time thinking about how innovative strategies and solutions will allow us to deliver better results than our competitors. In fact, this type of thinking led to the creation of a virtual collection agent that uses voice recognition and machine learning software, so if you call us but don’t want to speak with an agent, you can still make a payment in a totally self-serve manner! We also understand that market leading clients who embrace this type of technology and innovation will gravitate toward companies with a pioneering and creative approach to the industry. But most importantly, we believe that using technology to deliver a compliant and more customer-focused experience to consumers is the right thing to do for everyone involved.”
Although obstacles still exist, MRS stays ahead of the technological curve. Repholz says, “There is no question in our minds that a multi-channel approach is the future of the industry.” Accordingly, MRS innovates and refines its approach so that the customer and client are thoroughly satisfied. The debt collection industry stands on the precipice of great change and while business and legislation stand at the edge, MRS takes the technological leap into the future.
For too long the consumer finance sector was dominated by men. The “old boys club” was closed and inaccessible. Fearless women have broken down this barrier and are growing their numbers. According to UC Davis, women only make up about 18% of jobs in the financial industry and Catalyst reports that only 58 fortune 500 companies have a female CFO. While at a glance these numbers are not extremely encouraging, the precedent that the women behind the statistics set is monumental.
MRS presents many opportunities for all employees and, unlike many of its industry companions, has never struggled with gender inequities that often plague the financial sector. Through social movements prompting industry evolution, the sector is more open than it has ever been before. Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing Misty Carson says, “Historically, the industry has probably been dominated more by men when aggressive styles in collections was the norm. In recent years, the accounts receivables and collections industry has become more customer centric and focused more on the overall customer experience and company branding. Through the evolution of our industry, we have seen more women enter the industry and also promotions to senior leadership roles.”
While inequality still exists in the industry, MRS is an welcoming environment open to all and offering many options for career mobility. Vice President of Operations Kelly Feoli says, “Since I have been employed at MRS, I have always felt like part of a family. The ‘old boys club’ does not exist at MRS.” Vice President of Quality Assurance, Training, Customer Experience Kelli Grieco adds, “I’m very fortunate to work at a company where I have never experienced any inequity because I’m a woman. It makes me feel good about the future for my daughter.”
The company was founded on values of quality work, innovative practices, and respect for all employees. Emphasis on family culture has created an accessible space that all employees are encouraged to make home. Carson says, “MRS has two women on our Executive Team and several women in senior leadership roles. Our staff is comprised of a larger percentage of women agents and Operations Managers. The culture at MRS is conducive to diverse growth and development for everyone with excellent management training and leadership opportunities.”
As the push for equality in the sector intensifies, InsideARM has aptly established the Women in Consumer Finance conference, the first to take place this December in Baltimore. InsideARM’s Chief of Content and Industry Intelligence and Conference Chair Amy Perkins and CEO Stephanie Eidelman are carving a pathway for all women in the accounts receivable business and MRS’s Misty Carson and MRS Chief Personnel Officer Regina Weir look forward to attending this monumental event.
Culture is a buzzword that is often overused. Businesses everywhere are focusing on creating a corporate culture conducive to meaningful work by satisfied employees. But why is culture so important? Chief Operating Officer Jim Beck says, “The culture in an organization impacts all aspects of a company, including productivity, retention, and innovation.”
It’s no secret that MRS operates according to family values. The company, founded by brothers, Saul and Jeff Freedman, carries such principles into every aspect of the business. Consequently, each new hire that walks through the building is invited into the family. Open arms and overwhelming welcome are just pieces of the puzzle that differentiate MRS and make the company such a positive work environment. In fact, Jeff Freedman greets every single new training class at the Cherry Hill headquarters and operations leaders do the same in Ohio and Alabama.
Beck says, “There are so many employees that have been here for 5, 10 and 20 years. You don’t get that tenure without a strong culture. I would say that the culture here is about supporting each other, pushing each other to do better, having a strong performance, and having fun.”
Retaining employees benefits a company financially and culturally. According to the Social Market Foundation, happy employees are found to be 20% more productive than their counterparts. Additionally, a strong corporate culture promoting a positive work environment could see up to 37% increase in sales. Chief Personnel Officer Regina Weir says, “An employee’s work environment directly affects their job satisfaction and the quality of their daily production. A happy employee is a more productive employee and MRS strives to understand the evolving needs of its people in addition to letting them know that their voice is important to us.”
An employee’s hard work never goes unnoticed. MRS recognizes day to day and formal achievements in the call center ranging from a call that yielded a large collection to ribbons for prolonged call excellence. Today, the call center is full of cubicles adorned with different awards as the agents proudly display their ability to produce outstanding quality, month after month. The company also engages employees and challenges all to think outside the box. The yield of creativity is great; Beck says, “In addition to the impacts to our employees’ performances, MRS also has a very supportive culture for new ideas and creative solutions. This has led to technological improvements, process performance improvements, and financial performance improvements through ideas that have come from all parts of the organization.”
A strong corporate culture does not just appear- it takes time to nurture and grow. Over the 27 years in the business, the MRS family culture attitude has developed a fiercely competitive, caring, and innovative company.
Debt collection agencies, like many companies, house sensitive data. Storing information assets requires protection from prospective and opportunistic attackers. Michael Meyer, Chief Risk and Chief Security Officer at MRS, understands how essential it is to secure information and defend against bad actors.
In cybersecurity, the standard philosophy for protecting data is called “defense in depth.” This philosophy, also known as the Castle Approach, is a layered defense system. Information is surrounded in varied protective defenses with the objective of ensuring safety. This approach needs to be expanded because, as Meyer says, “There is no one tool or strategy that can possibly defend against every type of attack. That’s why a passive defense in depth with multiple layers all the way down through a company is now just the first step in a company’s security plan.”
Despite extensive safety measures, attackers are relentless. Meyer says, “The attacker only has to be right once, whereas the company defending always has to be one hundred percent right. Obviously those types of odds are weighed in the attacker’s favor. The way that companies can even their odds and fight back is to change their focus. Businesses have to take a balanced approach and assume that attackers will get in and additionally focus on preventing them from getting information out.”
As technology constantly evolves, so too does cybersecurity. In order to guard against the continual barrage of attackers, Meyer stresses the necessity of regularly updating tools and frequently improving defenses at all levels. Stagnancy is the enemy of secure assets. Citing the sports adage Meyer says, “The best defense is a good offense.”
A single data breach is often fatal. MRS recognizes the significance of security in a digital world fraught with attackers and defends accordingly. Meyer says, “The best cybersecurity is preventive in nature. The most important change that companies need to make now is protecting what goes out just as much as what gets in. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Carrying this sentiment in mind, MRS prioritizes security and structures its array of defenses to ensure the utmost protection of all assets handled.