Now that Wells Fargo (WFC) has stopped selling unpaid consumer loans to outside buyers, its executive in charge of those deals has found another job.
Alex Dunlap, the former head of debt sales for Wells Fargo, has joined Flock Specialty Finance as senior vice president of business development. Flock, based in Atlanta, finances midsize debt buyers and collection agencies and advises on collections industry M&A.
Dunlap, who left Wells Fargo in July and started at Flock in early August, directly attributes his decision to change jobs to increased regulatory scrutiny of the collections industry.
"It just seems like regulators are coming down on the space," he said in an interview late Tuesday.
Since Wells Fargo stopped selling bad consumer debt to outside buyers at the end of 2012, Dunlap had been helping the bank try to rethink its debt sales policy and doing some other work in its corporate development group. He called his new job a chance to continue working in the collections industry he loves and to help it react to the quickly-changing regulatory environment.
Wells "had stopped [debt sales], I was doing other things. I loved the industry, I thought it was a good time to seek other opportunities," he says.
A Wells Fargo spokeswoman did not immediately have a comment.
Wells and other big banks are rethinking their debt collections practices, as regulators increasingly scrutinize how banks and their vendors deal with credit card customers who have fallen behind on loans. Authorities including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Trade Commission and several prominent state officials have turned their attention to the credit card collections industry in recent months.
Last year, Wells quietly stopped selling charged-off consumer debts to outside collections agencies, as it overhauls its practices to make sure they comply with regulators' standards, American Banker reported in July. The San Francisco bank's pullback mirrors a more dramatic debt-sales moratorium at JPMorgan Chase (JPM), which is bracing for a federal enforcement action and fighting a California state lawsuit over its credit card collections practices.
During his 20 years at Wells Fargo, Dunlap "developed procedures and automated systems that streamlined [the bank's] debt sales process," according to a press release issued Tuesday by Flock.
The company's chief executive, Michael Flock, praised Dunlap in the press release for sharing "our vision on how the industry will need to change. He also has the knowledge base and experience to help banks comply with the CFPB and other regulators' expectations."
Dunlap will run sales and relationship management for Flock, and he will help the company's clients find more portfolios of bad debt to buy. Despite the regulatory climate that has frozen debt sales at his former employer, he is even hoping to convince more banks to start working with outside debt collectors.
"There are a number of small and medium-sized banks that have never sold" charged-off consumer debt, he says. "I think some of my expertise could help them and get them to sell, and to stay in the spaces where the regulators would expect them to stay in."