Collector - August 2020 - 20

3 Questions

for ACA's New President

Do you have a mentor or someone who inspires you?
I think of [Professional Credit CEO] Joe Hawes as a genius who sees
things no one else does. I'm a great implementor. I do have an original
idea every now and then, but not at the scale he does. If you've ever
read the book Rocket Fuel, it describes him (a visionary) and me (an
implementor) very well. Both are needed for success.
What does the "G" in G. Scott Purcell stand for?
The "G" stands for great! However, if you were to corroborate that with
the Oregon DMV, they'll tell you that it stands for George. My father's
name was George, but my mom didn't like people calling me George
Jr. so she's the one who switched to calling me Scott.
What's something about you people might not know?
My dad, who just passed last December at age 90½, was a master
woodworker. At ACA's Annual Convention last year, I auctioned one
of his handmade wooden chess sets at the Loomer-Mortenson
Scholarship fundraiser.

as Professional Credit's chief operating
officer in 2010.
Today the company has about 120
employees who, when not under stay-athome orders, work out of a beautiful modern
building in Springfield, Oregon. Under
Purcell's tenure as president, the company
added a behavioral scientist and data science
team into the mix.
"What Scott brought to our organization
was this sense of discipline in terms of
testing theories and letting the data and
evidence prove whether an idea was going
to work or not," said Chris DeLess, chief
technologist for KG Hawes, a tech company
part-owned and run by Hawes.
Here's an example: In 2018, Purcell and
Hawes worked with their data science team
to conduct an experiment based on the work
of Nobel laureate Dr. Richard Thaler.
"Thaler's work concluded that rational
people want to be in control of their
financial future," Purcell said. "So, we did
an experiment that involved changing
our consumer conversations to engage

20

a payment plan. Before, we would say
something like: 'You owe $2,000. What can
you afford to pay?' Inevitably the consumer
would respond: 'Well, what's the lowest you'll
take?' We changed our approach to say:
'You owe $2,000. If you pay $75 a month it'll
take this long to pay it off and this is what
the interest would be, but if you pay $175 a
month it'll take this long to pay it off and this
is what the interest would be.' In that second
one, the consumer sees us as an ally who is
helping them take control and they make the
best decision for themselves."
The company gave the new script to a test
group of collectors so they could compare
the results to those of the rest of the team.
Their scientific approach came apart at
the seams after a few weeks due to one
unforeseen variable: the breakroom.
"We had our test group and control group,
but what we forgot is they all eat lunch
together," Purcell said. "We overheard some
of the control group using the new talk off
with consumers, and when we asked where
they learned it, we discovered that the test

group had been bragging at lunch about the
higher payments they were getting with the
new approach-as much as 50% more. So we
called the experiment at that point and just
trained everybody on the new approach."

EMBRACING CHANGE
Purcell has always been an eager student
with a natural aptitude for leadership. In
high school, he was class president. In
college, where at 27 he was almost a decade
older than most of the other students, he
graduated at the top of his accounting class.
"I had a consumer mindset of 'I'm paying
for this,'" Purcell said. "I utilized every
professor's office hours because I wanted to
get my money's worth."
He worked his butt off to pass the CPA
exam on his first try right after graduation-
"only about 10% of people do that," he
noted-by taking prep courses during his
last few semesters of school.
Purcell describes himself as a "voracious
listener" of audiobooks, particularly of the
leadership and motivation genre. In our
conversation, he references Jim Collins' Good
to Great, Gino Wickman's and Mark Winters'
Rocket Fuel, Richard Thaler's and Cass
Sunstein's Nudge and Chris Voss' Never Split
the Difference. One of his all-time favorite
books is Everybody, Always by Bob Goff.
"Talk about a man who's making a huge
difference in this world," Purcell said. "Bob
is, and it's truly inspiring."
Last year a friend told him about the app
Goodreads, which keeps track of the books
you've read, and he immediately dove into
it. In his first eight months using it, Purcell's
"read" list was inching close to 70 books and
his "to read" list was almost as long.
"I've had to talk to him about accidentally
assigning homework to people sometimes,"
Hawes said. "He'll say to someone at the
company, 'This book is great, you should
read it.' When the president of the company
tells you that you need to read something,
you might feel obligated to read it! I've
counseled a few people on that one."
Purcell is a hard worker, but he's also
diligent about taking time off to spend with
his family or volunteer with the multiple

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Collector - August 2020

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