During several of the tradeshows we participated in during the first half of this year, I conducted my own informal (albeit, non-scientific) survey of the state of the accounts receivable management (ARM) industry. In essence, I talked with attendees about their plans for the remainder of the year. And without exception the response I received was that they expected to grow – grow their number of employees, expand into complementary businesses and/or purchase new equipment and solutions.
And now these first several months have shown continued economic improvements on a macro level, and I’m wondering if we’re now finally at the beginning of an upward (yet slow) trend in the U.S. economy – and specifically, the ARM industry? Very possibly yes:
- Many Americans are currently saddled with unpaid debts
- Unemployment continues to trend downward (May 2012 unemployemnt rate at 8.2%)
- Many of the long-term unemployed (specifically those who were gainfully employed 3-5 years ago) had historically paid their bills on time, so it’s reasonable to conclude that they’ll begin paying back their debts as they find jobs.
And as each of these impact the collection industry as a whole, it now seems logical that all of my survey participants are predicting growth in 2012. The rising tide carries all ships.
So what are the wild cards that could impact this upbeat prediction from my survey? Bankruptcy filings and consumer credit card usage have been declining, while mortgage loan delinquencies are still edging upwards and student loan debt is skyrocketing – currently at $1 trillion! The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau remains a wild card as the ARM industry waits to see what direction and actions will be taken. And over these past several months it seems as though unemployment is stuck and can’t seem to keep its downward momentum. (Did I miss any others….?)
So while we wait to see what comes of all these factors the second half of this year, it’s good to know the water may be finally coming into shore. Because I’m sure everyone agrees that the “low-tide” we’ve been in really stinks.