Ethicall Celebrates Second Anniversary

Ethicall Field Services extends the level of services but highlights the need for greater emphasis on third party data security on its second anniversary

Ethicall Field Services has completed a successful second year’s trading, taking its innovative and ground breaking field agency model to an ever widening client audience.

Martin Swann, Sales and Marketing Director for Ethicall commented, “We’re delighted to be entering our third year’s trading with the company in excellent shape. 2011 was a year which saw a number of changes to the field agency shopping list of lenders, and we’re extremely pleased to have met and, in some cases exceeded, their expectations.

The most noticeable change, Swann acknowledges, has been the level of rigour brought to bear by lenders in order to satisfy their requirements for Customer Data Security. “There has been a quantum leap in terms of lender focus over the last twelve months in this area. There is now a far keener eye on end point security, as well as the need for security of data in transit. We took the decision sometime ago to make adjustments to our field processes, with huge emphasis on controlling data at rest.”

Swann says that in order to meet client expectations significant investment has been made by the company in new hardware and software. “We operate an employed field team which works for us and no one else. We have now issued specifically configured, company hardware to all of our employees, inclusive of device access restriction and drive encryption. Advanced user authentication levels are also firmly in place, along with highly intuitive malware detection processes. Our Regional Partners and their reporting Account Managers can only access the Ethicall Workflow System using corporate laptops.”

“We see this as the only realistic way of ensuring customer data isn’t compromised. Our experience of transmitting customer data using methods outside the firewall, especially using e-mail, has proved problematic and at times risky. We’re now delighted that clients are changing the way they monitor their customer data when it’s transmitted outside their own business infrastructures. The only way, in our opinion, to deal with this important and sensitive area, is to control the process from start to finish.

“We have also made substantial changes to the level of protection around our server with an additional database firewall installed to defend against potential threats such as SQL injections or cross side scripting. All of our systems have been configured to meet PCI and ISO27001 standards. So far clients have been extremely pleased with the approach we are taking.”

Ethicall also reports that its service range has widened during 2011 which is further evidence of its approach to bring new solutions to problems both old and new. Swann says, “What is particularly pleasing is that our field team has the depth of experience and doorstep manner to embrace a range of different tasks and complexity. High contact rates mean that clients can rely on us to turn up and do the work well!

Swann outlines “We have always looked to bring something new and different to a somewhat tired sector. Anticipating client need and suggesting solutions is central to Ethicall’s ethos. One first class example of this has been the progress we have made in addressing one of the industry’s very pressing needs, and that is how to approach customers with anticipated repayment shortfalls (loan maturities). We have designed an interview report form and process which establishes the customer’s net asset position, provides an income and expenditure assessment and summarises the attitude and intent of the customer to deal with the projected shortfall. We are not a regulated entity and so cannot give advice; however, we can provide excellent and reliable first hand intelligence for lenders and bridge the literal divide between a Head Office team and a customer who could be over a hundred miles away.”

Swann went on to add, “This area is very much a moving feast with what constitutes advice in these circumstances is something of a grey area. We wouldn’t rule out a wider partnership involving industry specialists where Ethicall is able to facilitate direct help to client customers, who possibly don’t have sufficient income to justify a term extension.”

Ethicall also reports that it expects the overall numbers of field visit requirements in core arrears and recovery sectors to decline over the next 24-36 months although current economic pressures may see an increase in numbers in the second and third quarters of 2012. Swann commented “core markets will come under pressure and only those businesses with a focus on quality and value will survive. We believe very firmly that our model is built for both of these things and are excited at the prospect of meeting and beating the challenges of the next few years. The key success factor for our business will be those individuals who continue to do an excellent job for us and our clients in the field, often in difficult circumstances. Without an experienced, skilled, motivated and well managed field team we couldn’t deliver the level of quality clients rightly demand. Expanding our team with more of the same type of individuals will be paramount this year.”