Q&A with Mark Buckley ...
Lots of topics to cover at the UK Credit & Collections Conference 2019, Mark, but the ones that stand out for us are cybersecurity, culture, and how to bridge the gap between young and mature generations. What would you say are the primary issues affecting CSA members?
An awful lot of our members have been around a long time. We have a lot of new technology coming into the industry. It’s not just the companies that have been around for a long time that are there to embrace new technology, it’s also individuals out there as well with regards to the generational perspective, with regards to the new technologies coming in. It’s something that’s been around for a long time, yet that difference between the generations is becoming even more noticeable because of the types of technology that are coming out.
And the technology is coming out thick and fast, isn’t it? Do you anticipate consensus that we can provide better environments for people to manage their debt, and that we can do this with software?
Yes, yes it does. We want to try and share that, people who have issues with regards to debt are helped to the best of our abilities, basically. And to ensure that it’s right for them. If there is technology that can help with that, and there are processes that can help with that, then we more than happily encourage that.
Is it a case of ensuring the technology available to the industry is simple for everyone to use, or is it a misconception that older people struggle with technology?
I think there’s a misconception – I think you’re right with that. Obviously, the simpler it is to use, that’s better for everyone. Particularly me! I’m a bit of a dinosaur with technology myself! Just because it’s simple to use doesn’t mean we compromise on security, and ensuring that everyone’s data is protected. We’ve got GDPR, you’ve got the cybersecurity side of things, you’ve got hacking, you’ve got all the conversations going on with regards to how data is collected – the FaceApp thing being particularly prominent at this moment in time. Just because it’s simple doesn’t mean that security should be compromised.
You make a really good point because it’s not often that people are bamboozled by technology, but it’s that they mistrust technology because of the security issues.
Yes! And it’s not just our industry that that’s the case. It’s the main thing we read about across the board, is that it’s trust in technology and the security side of things.
Taking cybersecurity seriously
I read that while cybersecurity is a pervasive topic, many businesses are “still not elevating it to the boardroom agenda”. Are many businesses taking it seriously enough?
Yes and no. They’re covering certain areas, and obviously that varies from company to company, but it’s just looking at all areas. One area that we do have in the conference in September is that we are going to visit cybersecurity and how our members – and any company really – can protect themselves better from an insurance point of view, and see how they can set themselves up so that they don’t actually fall foul of it. It’s not just the hacking side of things. It’s phishing, it’s ransomware, it’s things like that as well.
It does play into building a better relationship with the customer by covering all the bases in terms of security. To build that trust.
Yes. And going back to what we said before, it’s building that trust on all sides.
Finally, culture is a difficult one for many businesses. What steps do you think your members are making to change internal culture, so that we’re actively helping people manage their debt? Is it simply something that leadership has to do?
One thing we do pride ourselves leading the way is how our members conduct themselves, and our members do conduct themselves to the highest standard in ensuring that people our members are dealing with are dealt with in a fair and honest manner. There’s not a lot of awareness now with regards to mental health, and with regards to vulnerability for the individuals as well. It’s not just about let’s get the money in. It’s about sitting down with the individuals and working with them to ensure that … obviously they’ve got into a debt situation, but let’s not make that worse. I want to work with them and ensure that everything is done properly.
Having that level of empathy.
Yes, having that level of empathy. You’re right.