Compliance is the number one operational concern for collection agencies in 2015, but a relatively small part of their projected growth plan, according to BillingTree’s 3rd annual Collection Agency Operations and Technology Survey.

According to the survey – which BillingTree’s Head of Marketing Dave Yohe and Vice President of Sales and Business Development Chad Probst discussed Sunday at ACA International’s 2015 Convention & Expo in Boston – “client expansion” is the top priority for agencies’ growth and profitability plans in 2015.

According to the survey, compliance policies, increased operating expenses and collection technology upgrades were the top three concerns related to agency collection operations in 2015. “Other” concerns included unclear regulations and client retention.

When it comes to payment processing and account maintenance regulations and guidelines, survey respondents ranked Regulation E and enforcement actions from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as their top compliance risk concerns. According to the survey, collection agencies see calling a consumer’s cell phone as the most risky payment collection practice.

This year’s survey also showed an increasing reliance on data in the credit and collection industry. According to the survey, 84 percent of collection agencies have some level of data reliance, meaning agencies count on their technology partners for critical data now more than ever. Sixty-three percent of survey respondents also said they typically rely on full details from their payment gateway to manage payment operations.

Other key findings from the survey included:

  • Approximately 52 percent of survey respondents said they foresee “a major legal ruling or compliance challenge impacting the collection industry in 2015.”
  • Survey respondents cited the impact of the Affordable Care Act on collection as the most significant concern or challenge facing the collection industry in 2015.
  • Survey respondents listed “agent-assisted payment authorization and notification” as the payment method they currently use that they see as having the highest compliance risk.

BillingTree conducted the Collection Agency Operations and Technology Survey in February 2015, compiling responses from more than 200 respondents.