Be True to Your School

How ACA International developed its focus on member education.

5/1/2019 2:00 PM

NewsCollector Magazine
Be True to Your School

A little more than a decade after its initial founding, ACA International began sharpening its focus on member education, rolling out new training options and eventually developing industry professionals into Certified Instructors for the association.

In 1950, the association launched a five-year plan that directed ACA to establish an education program to teach members new and better ways of doing business. For starters, ACA wanted to know: What techniques did collectors have for recovering unpaid debts and talking with consumers?

ACA’s first school, which was simply called the Telephone Institute, was held in May 1951 in Marshalltown, Iowa. It was attended by 24 collectors—10 women and 14 men. What made the Telephone Institute unique was its format: Rather than sitting through lectures, the students made simulated and actual collection calls and skiptraced live accounts.

While this training approach didn’t endure, what did was ACA’s commitment to providing new and innovative ways of self-improvement through education. The association introduced training cassettes and videotapes in the 1970s, computer-based products in the 1980s and 1990s, and interactive online seminars in the 2000s, in addition to its perennially popular compliance manuals and in-person seminars.

In the photo above, ACA members attend a 1962 telephone school session in Lincoln, Nebraska.

In 1986, ACA launched its first collector certification program. Before this, the only accounts receivable management industry certification that existed was at the state level through the American Collectors Association of Texas, which started a program shortly before ACA’s got underway.

Today dozens of members—sometimes more than 100—earn professional designations through ACA each month, with growing involvement from member instructors leading seminars on emerging industry trends. Regular training also continues in essential courses on data security, communication techniques, effective policies and procedures and much more.

Throughout ACA International’s 80th anniversary year, Collector magazine and ACA Daily will be featuring photos marking important moments in the association’s and accounts receivable management industry’s history. You can keep up with ACA’s anniversary coverage on Twitter by following #ACA80years

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