Collector - July/Aug 2021 - 52

PERSPECTIVES
Origin Story
A Better Future
How ACA member Celia Hernandez gives back to the community-one consumer at a time.
Celia Hernandez always wanted
a career that enabled her to help
people. She found it at age 18
when she joined Financial Credit
Network. Here's how she got her
start in the accounts receivable
management (ARM) industry, in
her own words.
My start in the ARM industry was out
of necessity-I needed to support myself.
I was 18 and moving out of a foster
home in Visalia, California. My older
sister was working with Financial Credit
Network and mentioned they were
hiring. She recommended I give it a
shot. I went in for an interview for a
Spanish-speaking collector and, 18 years
later, I am still there.
I grew up in a small town called Lemon
Cove, California, and I attended high
school in Visalia. My mom was always involved
in community outreach and helped
with teens and adolescents. My father was
self-employed in upholstery services.
After starting as a Spanish-speaking
collector at FCN and completing the
initial training, the compliance offi cer
in charge of our team moved me to the
English-speaking collection team. I worked
on my Spanish skills and eventually moved
back to that team.
While working, I earned my bachelor's
degree in human services. I wanted to
be a social worker and help people who
were in the same situation I was growing
up-living in foster care. When I graduated
from college, Alicia Sundstrom, the
owner of FCN, asked if I had explored my
opportunities within the company. She
also wanted to make sure I did what was
best for myself. I thought about it and I
realized what I was doing in collections
was helping people.
By the time I got my degree, I had transitioned
from being a collector to processing
disputes and working with consumers in
diffi cult times. Although I originally wanted
to help kids through my career, I truly felt
52
acainternational.org
in my heart what our company was doing
was helping consumers to better themselves.
I learned I could still serve the same
purpose as a social worker by staying with
the company.
I am currently the training and
compliance offi cer. I was promoted from
training and compliance specialist in June.
I process disputes, handle complaints and
conduct training with internal staff . I'm
in charge of coordinating FCN's SOC 2
audits, as well as working with the leadership
team on any new industry regulations.
I'm also involved in FCN University, our
monthly seminars for our clients, which
include training on compliance and customer
service. I still do collection calls at
least a few days a week.
Th e leaders at FCN saw my potential.
Th ey sent me to ACA International's
Spring Forum & Expo in Las Vegas a
couple of years ago, and I obtained my
Credit and Collection Compliance Offi cer
(CCCO) designation.
I think the sky is the limit as far as what
I can do within the company. My goal is to
be vice president. My other goal is to be an
advocate with ACA so I can be a voice for
the ARM industry.
When I hear consumers say, 'Th ank you
for helping me,' I wish everybody could
hear those sentiments. I want to change the
perception of our company and the industry
by showing consumers who we truly are
and how we help the community.
If given the choice, instead of meeting
a celebrity or someone famous, I would
rather reconnect with the mentors and
leaders who have changed my life, such as
my social worker who guided me when I
was younger.
Our Vice President Kris Davisson is
amazing-we stand for the same things.
Susan Morado, our compliance and training
offi cer and collection manager, has also
been a mentor to me.
When I went to the ACA conference
in Las Vegas, Mark Neeb had just taken his
place as ACA's CEO and he was there. I
CELIA HERNANDEZ
Company: Financial Credit Network
Location: Visalia, California
Title: Training and Compliance
Offi cer
think that was the closest I've ever come to
what it would be like to meet a celebrity.
He is truly the voice and the face
of the ARM industry and the message
we want to share with consumers, lawmakers
and regulators. Th at was my big
celebrity moment.
Reported by Katy Zillmer.
http://www.acainternational.org

Collector - July/Aug 2021

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