What to be aware of … setting your goals for 2018

It is starting to develop, slowly but surely, that end of year feeling. End of year parties are taking place, decorations are up and more importantly EVERYTHING now needs to be done by the end of the week.

Unfortunately, the days when we would all ‘wind down’ for the holidays seem to be long gone. Now if anything it seems more intense as we all try to squeeze in one more deliverable before January.

Despite delivery pressures, thoughts at this time of year do gradually start to move to what next year will bring. Importantly what do I need to put in my 2018 goals, what can I promise and what is actually achievable? Here are some thoughts.

Being prepared

There are a couple of trends we know about, on the horizon, and worth being prepared for. They are heading our way.

1. Seasonal volume increase. Q1 is always busy, especially in collections. Customers have started the new year too and many sort out their affairs at this time. Undoubtedly this will increase demand for resources. Have smart strategies to help handle the volume. Have these ready asap.

2. IFRS9. The much-anticipated new accounting standard is live in January. Understand the impact and ensure you have a strategy to respond.

3. GDPR. The new data protection regulation is due to go live in May 2018. Whilst many organisations are advanced in terms of regulatory preparation, this will get rolled out to operational teams for implementation Q1. Procedural and operational readiness will be required, so make sure you are ready.

4. Persistent Debt. Further to the FCA Credit Card market study, the policy rules for companies to help customers in persistent debt are expected Q1 2018. This is expected to include the waiving of interest and fees for customers in persistent debt, bringing a new wave of volume into the collections arena (if it is not there already for pre-arrears work). Understand the implication, volume impact and anticipate a strategy to handle the change.

5. Open Banking and PSD2. Open API frameworks are due to go live in early 2018. If you are in financial services, it is worth checking in on the response for your organisation. Be ready to handle or capitalise on implications or opportunities for your process.

Ready to respond

This is a lot of change and let’s not forget all of this is in a cost controlled environment, already requiring strict regulatory compliance. Responding is not always easy and staff can often feel over stretched with not enough hours in the day.
However, a couple of approaches we have seen may also help.

Automate and use data. The use of automation and data is becoming increasingly important to both manage compliance and control costs. These techniques can be used to take the load off existing processes.

Ensure System robustness. Many organisations are still reliant on legacy system platforms. The collections system market is particularly exciting at the moment, with many new entrants competing against established suppliers. Innovation is up and some organisations are using this as an opportunity to make a significant step change of capability. This could be worth review and benefit assessment to see if the time is right for an upgrade too.

Prioritise activity. This can help to eliminate or de-prioritise non-value add activity, focusing on high priority items such as financial performance, ensuring customer fair treatment and compliance. Understand where you are, what needs to be done and in what order to maximise benefit.

Flexible resourcing. But genuinely, in a world where resources are stretched and there are not enough hours in the day, there are three choices; elongate the deadlines, reduce quality of output or get additional resource. When deadlines cannot be moved, time limited expert resource can really add a lot of value.

2017 was undoubtedly a year of consolidation and change. Indications are next year will be similar, with some new structural change we know we will need to be handled.

So once your year-end deadlines are done, the stream of email subsides (at least for a day!), hopefully you are able to take a breath, step back and recharge, so you can be prepared and take charge in 2018.

Previously published at arum.co.uk

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