Every few months at Central Finance Management Group we recognise those who have gone above and beyond to deliver incredible work through our Crackin’ Good Job Awards.
Our employees have access to a staff ‘shout out’ wall where they can write a little note of thanks to a colleague anytime and nominate them for an award. Once the wall is looking pretty full, we see which shout outs deserve a closer look. This month we recognise three employees for doing a cracking job this quarter.
Pradha Gurumahan, a Solicitor with our legal firm, Linton Pitt Lawyers joined CFMG in June and has quickly become an invaluable part of the Linton Pitt team.
Navneet Mullee said:
“Pradha is always going out of her way to support her colleagues by putting her hand up to share the workload. She balances competence with friendliness and kindness and we’re so grateful to have her on board.”
Ross Edwards was recently promoted to Acting Head of Collections and has very quickly stepped up to face the new role head on.
Dermot Ormsby said:
“Ross volunteered at short notice to attend a collections conference in Kuala Lumpur where he also had a speaking role on a panel. His performance was stellar and he remained cool, calm and collected showing that he’s up for any challenge.”
Corri-Jade Dalby is a Team Leader in the Collections Team and put in an enormous effort when other management team members and colleagues were out of the office.
Sian Ineson said:
“Corri-Jade did whatever it took to maintain performance and quality while some key players were out of the office. She showed her excellent work ethic by picking up extra tasks and really owning her role.”
Each nomination is judged according to the Central Finance Management Group Family Values. This quarter’s winners demonstrated the following:
- Deliver Client Service Excellence
- Every Role is Powerful -> Own Yours!
- Help Others
The team at Central Finance Management Group has been walking, running, jumping, hopping and skipping this month, and making every step count as part of the 2018 STEPtember campaign.
Employees underwent a Vitality health check in August as a part of the new company Wellness Program, which helped the team to set health goals. When STEPtember came around, an overwhelming number of people put their hands up to commit to the step count, and to raise money and awareness for kids and adults with cerebral palsy.
Finishing the month with more than 7 million steps recorded, CFMG’s seven competing groups have had a great time with the challenge, and have noticed a real difference in the way they view their health.
Outgoing Head of Compliance, Jack Elias was CFMG’s top stepper and said since his goal is to be a centenarian, exercise plays a major role in the way he lives his life.
“I’ve never finished an exercise session and felt worse at the end, so I know how valuable exercise is for mental health as well as physical. Since I don’t like walking much, I’ve been taking high intensity classes at the gym and upping the time I spend on the bike and rowing machines. I can really notice the difference it has made to my endurance and I’ll definitely be keeping it up.”
With STEPtember’s figures showing that the average office worker only moves 3,000 of the recommended 10,000 steps per day, and spends 75% of their time sedentary, the challenge is a great opportunity to form new healthy habits.
Pradha Gurumahan, Solicitor, Linton Pitt Lawyers came in second place and says that STEPtember has changed her outlook on exercise:
“I’ve always been quite an active person but when it gets cold, I can get into hibernation mode. STEPtember has made me get up out of bed and exercising before and after work. It’s a great way to de-stress, gives me loads of energy, and improves my mood and sleep. After seeing how much it has benefited my physical and mental wellbeing, I’ll definitely be continuing beyond the challenge.”
Altogether the teams raised over $1000 for the Cerebral Palsy Alliance and had a really great time exercising and competing for a cause.
Last week our new Head of Collections, Ross Edwards, and his predecessor, Dermot Ormsby, took to the stage at the American Express Spectrum Conference in Kuala Lumpur. The pair explored innovative ways to create contacts, drive efficiencies and increase collection effectiveness using digital mediums, new technology and social media.
Ross participated in a panel discussion that delved into driving performance in collections teams where he shared some of the challenges that exist in this space, and how CFMG works to maintain its high-quality approach at all times. He also explored some of the opportunities for engaging collections teams.
“While we explore the use of new and innovative ways to drive collections it is just as important that we invest in the right people who are skilled in these new age contact avenues. Communication is somewhat moving from the traditional phone method, and now more than ever, written and technical skills are becoming as important when scouting talent,” said Ross.
Dermot talked about the impact of emerging technology as well as our investment in new digital mediums and contact channels. His presentation evolved to bring social media to the forefront in a conversation around acceptance and regulatory challenges. The group discussed what is happening around the globe and how the collections industry is using social media to drive contacts.
Dermot’s presentation showed that millennials are more inclined to get into debt to maintain their lifestyle and appearance knowing that they may not be able to manage their obligations. This generation is also less contactable through traditional methods given their tendency towards communication preferences such as social media, text and email. This presents challenges for collections teams, as well as opportunities to shift traditional collections methods.
Employees are any business’ greatest asset, and that’s why we want to make sure our people are coming into work feeling their best. To achieve this, we’ve implemented a Wellness Program and are encouraging everyone at CFMG to get involved.
Workplace Wellness Programs have been proven to:
- Reduce stress
- Increase resilience
- Foster a sense of community
- Improve physical and mental health
- Assist with increasing focus and concentration, and management of workload pressures
- Increase job satisfaction and engagement
- Improve workplace morale
The team at CFMG will be stepping outside comfort zones and giving yoga and belly dancing a try over the next few months. We’re also going to run a healthy cooking class for tips and tricks on how to make every day a healthy day.
On top of that, our people have access to:
- Monthly massages
- Daily fresh fruit
- Health checks
- Flu shots
- Ergonomic workspace assessments and equipment
CFMG has also been welcoming in furry visitors to the office as part of our dog friendly workplace trial. Animals have been proven to improve morale and culture and reduce stress, and with our Head of Support Services, Dr. Sian Ineson, a trained Veterinarian, it made perfect sense for us to trial it in our office.
Keep an eye out for more information on how our wellness initiatives are progressing.
With cyber-attacks on the rise, it is essential that every organisation reviews its Data Security Strategies to ensure they are addressing their greatest weakness. The following video highlights the most common weakness and provides 6 Quick Tips to sure this up and reduce your risk.
Most organisations have recognised that becoming more customer-centric is essential to remain competitive in today’s marketplace. What they often fail to realise is that creating a sustainable and impressive customer experience program has to start with your employees. If your team members are not being looked after, it will be next to impossible to ask them to buy-in to genuine customer service delivery, much less an end to end customer experience program.
Financial incentives only go so far, especially when it comes to genuine customer service, and often lead to superficial service quality, ready to sour at the first sign of customer dissatisfaction, which we all know is a key touch point in itself. There are a multitude of resources online with details on how to review and improve your employee experience to drive satisfaction and engagement, and what works for us may not work for you. What we will elaborate on are some of the results, from our own experience as a debt recovery agency, honoured to be entrusted to look after our client’s own customers:
- It has created a fun, friendly workplace – so when an external party speaks to any team member, across any department, it is obvious they are happy to be there;
- Client facing team members have the energy, resources and motivation to strive to exceed client expectations;
- Our contact centre staff members are friendly, more attuned to wanting to help the customer, to actively listen, and to defuse any customers than phone in discontent. These in turn help to protect our clients brand, can rehabilitate good customers in short term financial hardship and;
- Leads to optimal collections performance, as the boundaries of non-payment are more effectively negotiated and resolved.
So, before you set out on weaving customer-centricity into your strategy, the place to start is with your employees. Look after them.
Conscious listening is becoming a forgotten art. If we can’t train ourselves to actively listen to our customers, colleagues, suppliers, friends, family members or anyone else, how can we hope to understand them?
Why Don’t We Listen?
The fact is, it’s getting harder to listen. As a society, we are bombarded with sensory data from all manner of channels and wigits, which has reduced our ability to notice and appreciate things in life that are quiet or subtle. It has driven us to need constant stimulation, made us impatient and fostered a ‘cult of self’ mentality, encouraging an inflated sense of our own self-importance. Compounding this, we are no longer reliant on listening as a significant mode of recording information, and most schools don’t teach it. In summary, our cultural landscape places very little value on listening as a skill, and we are not being taught otherwise.
Benefits of Being a Conscious Listener (with a focus on those relevant to the workplace):
- you hear what’s being said, as well as the subtle things that add meaning but are not spoken
- people feel that they have been heard, which increases their satisfaction with the exchange
- it promotes a culture of respect, which has obvious benefits to all stakeholders
- you are more likely to reach the best outcomes, rather than relying on the usual persuasion by argument
- you create a space for other people to use, to express their own ideas or views, which they may not have voiced otherwise, often adding valuable insight from different personality types
- provides more opportunity and better reception of it, when you tactfully voice diverging opinions or views
- most importantly, you achieve a deeper level of understanding
How to be a Conscious Listener
Most literature available recommends a 2-phase approach, which is to a. practice listening exercises, and b. adopt a best practice approach to the listening process.
1. Listening exercises help to re-calibrate your body’s ability to appreciate the subtle sounds, they can include:
- Mindfulness walks, where you clear your head as much as you can and simply focus on the sounds you hear
- Sitting for 3 minutes of silence per day
- Focusing on a particular sound, and making an effort to enjoy it thoroughly (eg. water filling a bath tub, turning on a gas stove)
- Practice listening with different filters/perspectives (eg. as a colleague, as a competitor, as an examiner, as an intern)
2. Best practice listening process:
- Pay attention – make eye contact, avoid distractions, and unless you are the timekeeper or the chairperson do not interrupt the speaker. Watch their body language, and be mindful of your own.
- Show that you are listening – make small noises of acknowledgement like ‘ah’, ‘ok’, ‘yes’ or nod your head.
- Summarise what you have heard to ensure you have understood.
- Ask Questions.
- Respond, where appropriate – offer your own view or alternate information. Always assert your opinions respectfully.
In summary, if you are setting personal development goals for FY2018, spare a thought for including one on actively working on becoming a conscious and engaged listener. Everyone will thank you for it!
Our Head of Compliance, Mr Jack Elias, has been awarded the honour of NSW Young Credit Professional of the Year 2017. The program is the largest and most prestigious Youth Credit Award program in Australia. It recognises the achievements of the new generation of industry leaders, and provides opportunity for support and shared learning from other recognised young talent, as well as experienced Credit Practitioners who are interested in assisting young Credit Professionals to achieve their potential.
We are very proud of Jack’s achievements, both in and outside of the workplace. Inside the office Jack has been instrumental in reviving our business management system so that our overall approach is one of proactivity, operationalised innovation, and always in the true spirit of our family values.
Outside of the workplace Jack has also shown himself to be of exceptional standard. Having trekked in Nepal shortly before the devastating earthquakes in 2015, he and his partner made the decision to act. Together they created the ‘2 Pairs Project’, and employ local Nepalese jewellers to design and make handmade jewellery. 100% of profits from every item sold is donated to rebuild schools and education programs in Nepal.
“2 Pairs Project exists to provide children and communities with opportunities to create a brighter future and stop the cycle of poverty…Our jewellery extends beyond sentimental value and impacts the lives of Nepalese children by equipping them with the most powerful tool on earth: education.”
Well done Jack.
During a lengthy and highly productive Strategic Planning process last year, we engaged every member of staff to help distil out the essence of who we are and what we offer to clients and other stakeholders. We used this intel to redefine our company’s guardrails in the form of our Vision, Mission and Core Values.
“To provide superior financial outcomes to clients, uniting the operational standards of the Big Guys with the agility of the Small Guys”
“To be the most respected agency in our industry, well known in our target markets for the strength of our service, performance, and compliance”
Our Family Values:
1. Build Relationships.
2. Live a Life of Integrity.
3. Blend Professionalism with Authenticity.
4. Embrace & Drive Change.
5. Deliver Client Service Excellence.
6. Every Role is Powerful –> Own Yours!
7. Help Others.
These 3 components have helped build our strategic foundation and are used extensively throughout our organisation to guide decision making across all functions and departments. This means that when Clients and their Customers engage with us, they have increased clarity around exactly who we are and what we represent as an organisation.
Government to Reduce Bankruptcy Period to One Year
In Australia, the bankruptcy period is currently three years. During this period a bankrupt must comply with numerous requests from the trustee including, but not limited to, providing statements of affairs, seeking the trustee’s consent to travel overseas, and potentially even garnishing wages.
As part of its National Innovation Statement, in the last half of 2015 the Government announced its intention to reduce the bankruptcy period from three years to one. The move has been promoted as a positive step to protect creditors and encourage entrepreneurship across Australia.
The Productivity Commission proposed the idea in its report on Business Set-up, Transfer and Closure, which was sent to the Government in September 2015 and released to the public in December. In its report, the Commission made the following recommendations regarding personal insolvency:
Recommendation 1 – Automatic Discharge after 1 Year
That the Bankruptcy Act 1966 should be amended so that, where no offence has occurred, a bankrupt is automatically discharged after one year. Specifically, this should apply to restrictions relating to overseas travel, holding an office under the Corporations Act 2001, employment within certain professions and access to personal finance.
The trustee, and the courts, should retain the power to extend the time until the bankrupt is discharged for a period of up to eight years if there are concerns regarding the bankrupt’s conduct. Any extensions should be recorded on the National Personal Insolvency Index.
Recommendation 2 – Continuation of Income Contribution Regime
The obligation of bankrupts to make excess income contributions to their trustee should remain for three years. The period of excess income contributions can be extended at the discretion of the trustee to up to eight years. If the period of bankruptcy is extended beyond three years, then excess income contributions should be required until discharge.
Given that these recommendations are still quite new, there will undoubtedly be a number of discussions about whether a decreased bankruptcy period will reduce the ramifications of bankruptcy for debtors and make their decision to go into bankruptcy easier thanks to faster rehabilitation. Concerned parties are also deliberating on whether a shorter bankruptcy period will encourage irresponsible borrowing and spending.
Nevertheless, if these recommendations become law, it appears that they would have minimal impact upon the administration of a bankruptcy file (and creditors).
Creditors — The position of creditors to claim in an estate will remain unchanged. They will be entitled to submit a proof of debt in the estate and, subject to acceptance of their claim, participate in any dividends that the trustee may pay from the estate.
Assets — All divisible assets as at the date of bankruptcy will still be available for realisation by the trustee, with the only impact being on ‘after-acquired’ property (i.e., property that devolves on a bankrupt while they are undischarged such as lottery winnings or inheritances).
Income Contributions — Despite the reduced bankruptcy period, income contributions will still have to be paid (if applicable) for three years (or longer) as is currently the case.
Trustee powers — A trustee’s statutory powers to recover assets and voidable transactions will continue to be available.
Whether the proposed reduced bankruptcy term will meet is stated objective of encouraging more Australians to take more risks, be more innovative, and therefore more ambitious remains to be seen. However from the creditors’ perspective, it appears that they will not be unfairly disadvantaged by the proposals.
The Government has indicated that a proposal paper that includes the above recommendations will be released in the first half of this year, with a view to the introduction and passage of legislation in mid-2017. We will continue to report on developments as they occur, watch this space.