Last week the insideARM Third Annual First Party Summit (FPS) was held at the beautiful Westin Stonebriar Hotel and Golf Club in Frisco, TX. FPS is the only industry event devoted exclusively to the issues and challenges of first party collections, care, and outsourcing.

The lines between care and collections are blurring. To address this new reality, the conference kicked off with an engaging keynote speech from Adam Toporek, author of “Be Your Customer’s Hero.” Adam focused his talk on improving the customer experience throughout the entire lifecycle of a consumer’s account; from customer care and customer service through collections. Adam did exactly what a keynote speaker should do. He set up the dialogue for the rest of the conference. You can tell a keynote address resonates when other speakers reference back to it. Themes from the keynote were referenced many times during the conference.

Following the keynote were 22 separate educational sessions, with 47 different speakers. The goal of the individual sessions was to facilitate a dialogue on the issues presented. Infomercials were not allowed. The speakers and session moderators included a mix of creditors and service providers, new faces and highly-rated past participants. The sessions were content rich, timely, and relevant. Several attendee comments supported the fact that the goal of the sessions was achieved:  

“Finally, an educational experience specifically created for those of us in the first party arena. Every session was relevant and informative. This was my 2nd year as an attendee and I will definitely be back.” 

“This was my first experience at the First Party Summit. This event gave time to both network and learn about the industry on many key topics. Sessions were full of dialogue and insightful points of view.” 

“I truly enjoy this conference. The speakers are excellent and the format encourages open dialogue.“

Also during the conference insideARM recognized winners of the 2017 winners of the “Best Call Centers to Work For” program. These industry leading companies received their award in front of a packed house. To add some spice to the ceremony, each winning company had their own “Walk Up Music” as they approached the stage.

The first day’s “work” activities ended with a creditors-only best practices peer discussion.

But, what is an ARM industry conference without some fun? The day ended with a group outing to Topgolf. This social activity was organized and supported by one of the Summit sponsors.  While the social interaction was terrific, this reporter can safely say that the ARM industry is not producing the next Tiger Woods from this particular group of attendees. There were some highly unorthodox swings on display. Serious golfers were told to “look away, they are hideous” for fear the techniques shown could somehow be spread like a bad virus.

Day two of the conference featured a panel discussion: “FTC and CFPB – Working Together on First Party and Debt Collection Rulemaking, Supervision and Enforcement.” The session was deftly moderated by Rozanne Andersen from Ontario Systems. The panel included John McNamara from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and Tom Pahl and Tom Carter from the Federal Trade Commission. Often these type of panel discussions can be dry; filled with canned answers.  However, Rozanne was somehow able to solicit thoughtful, thorough, and original responses to her questions.


Thomas Pahl of the Federal Trade Commission and John McNamara of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau discuss debt collection regulations. Also on the panel (not pictured) was Tom Carter of the Federal Trade Commission and Rozanne Andersen (moderator).

insideARM conferences are different. There is no Exhibit Hall. The Summit is supported through a handful of conference sponsors. Aggressive sales efforts are overtly discouraged. Group activities dominate the schedule. The atmosphere is inclusive and relaxed. The following additional participant feedback sums this up:

"The content and approach is out of the norm. This really is a breath of fresh air. From all of us at our company, we appreciate your critical thinking around this industry. Your hard work and efforts are paying off for everyone in the industry and it's very much appreciated."

“I loved the conference. Excellent content. As far as I am concerned it’s the only relevant conference of the year. I heard folks in elevators and in hallways expressing very positive comments.” 

“Excellent conference in every aspect. Certainly the new standard/model for industry gatherings.” 

“Great experience, all respective representatives of the various agencies open and willing to share ideas. Great atmosphere. One of the best content and presence in the 1st party space in terms of idea sharing! Definitely will be back.” 

“This was my first ARM conference and I was extremely pleased with the content and met a lot of valuable contacts. The breakout sessions were excellent and interactive. Well-organized, good food provided. Absolutely a worthwhile conference. Looking forward to attending next year!” 

Additional photos from the event are now posted. View them here.

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