Debt collection analysts are responsible for tracking delinquent customer accounts and working to recover the outstanding balances. Job opportunities are peppered throughout a variety of industries, particularly those that provide lines of credit as a common practice. These analysts have myriad methods and resources at their disposal, which can greatly diminish an organization's risk when used effectively.
Nuts and Bolts
You must first review your organization's accounts receivable ledgers in order to identify past due balances. Then, you will contact, by phone or letter, each delinquent account in an effort to encourage payment. In rare cases, you may even visit the customer's place of business. You must document all correspondence with customers, negotiate payment terms and determine when further action is required. Repeated failure to collect may lead you to initiate more drastic measures such as skip-tracing, placement with an outside collection agency or, in the worst instances, legal action. If you achieve a modicum of success, you may be promoted to supervising other analysts. Additional duties often include ad-hoc account analysis and reporting, brainstorming ideas for lean project management, and ensuring compliance with state and federal laws.
Skills for Success
You should have knowledge of advanced collection techniques such as skip-tracing, asset and probate searches, bankruptcies, discharges and attorney-based collection placement. You should understand basic accounting principles, insurance billing and collection industry terminology. Proficiency with Microsoft Excel and research portals like Accurint or Experian are also pluses. The higher your competency in all these areas, the better your compensation or position of authority is likely to be. You must be highly organized, detail-oriented, able to prioritize multiple tasks and have strong time-management skills. Solid written and verbal communication abilities are also essential when describing situations to clients or superiors. In addition, you must have a proactive work ethic and function effectively in a team environment.
The Learning Curve
Many employers prefer that you have a bachelor's degree in a relevant field, such as accounting, finance or business management. However, two to three years of practical experience as a collections analyst is usually a suitable alternative. In limited cases where accounts are large or job competition is high, more than five years of experience and a degree may be required. Some organizations will provide on-the-job training or allow you to advance from an entry-level assistant position. While no professional certifications exist specifically for collections analysts, completing a professional business analysis program like CBAP may provide you with some basic tools that increase your employability.
Collecting Your Own Money
Collection analysts are a type of financial analyst in that they must review balance sheets, accounting statements, bank documents and other finance materials in order to assess the credit risk of clients, negotiate financial settlements and determine acceptable levels of monetary loss. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found, in 2010, that those broadly categorized as financial analysts with four-year degrees earned a median annual salary of $74,350, or $35.75 per hour. Those in the lowest 10 percent earned less than $45,000, while the top 10 percent earned more than $140,000. Approximately 236,000 analyst jobs existed in 2010, with an additional 54,200 estimated between 2010 and 2020. That represents an increase of 23 percent, more than 50 percent higher than the expected increase for all jobs nationally. Such growth is largely attributable to emerging markets and a widening range of financial products for businesses. However, despite this growth, the BLS expects competition for such jobs to remain stiff.
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