Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Happiness at Jefferson Capital
By David M. Burton
Chief Executive Officer – Jefferson Capital Holdings, LLC
The Fourth of July is a day of celebration in the United States, as it marks the birth of our nation in 1776. In a few months Jefferson Capital will also be celebrating its birth, as we launched our business almost twenty years ago in November 2002.
During our 20th anniversary year, I have been sharing stories about our business and the secrets to our success over the years. With Independence Day upon us, I thought this month I would share a story about our corporate name – Jefferson Capital – and its relationship to the Declaration of Independence. For it reflects how we listen to and find solutions for our clients and consumers each and every day, which in turn is one of the secrets to our twenty years of success.
The Declaration of Independence and the Fourth of July go hand in hand. Jefferson is an author of the Declaration of Independence, which is the foundation of our Independence Day celebrations here in the United States. The Declaration of Independence is of course the document that was approved by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776 and announced the separation of 13 North American colonies.
Arguably its most important and well-known provision states that certain truths are self-evident including that all individuals are created equal and endowed with certain unalienable rights. This includes the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
In simplest terms, the founders believed that every individual has a right to enjoy the freedoms to live their lives as they see fit, and above all, to pursue happiness. So how does this all connect to our name? As founder and CEO I am reminded of two significant connections.
Jefferson Capital & Industry Separation - People, Innovation, and Compliance
First, like the separation of the 13 North American colonies, Jefferson Capital’s origins involve its separation from the norms and practices of others in the consumer receivables industry twenty years ago. In 2002 we consciously split from our industry peers by taking a fresh approach with how to connect with consumers. Instead of following the tried-and-true method of continuous calling and making demands of consumers, we embraced a listening first approach to understanding each consumer’s circumstances before exploring possible solutions. Another area of separation was underpinned by our use of data and analytics to formulate innovative consumer friendly contact strategies. In doing so, and in subsequently adopting data-driven account segmentation strategies, we completely separated ourselves from the industry. We took a listening approach with clients as well and decided to always put compliance first. Although it may not seem significant today, it was a very novel approach twenty years ago.
Splitting from the established industry practices was not easy. To do so we relied upon hard-working, smart, and thoughtful employees to build the foundation, we trained our associates to be innovative in identifying effective solutions that worked, and above all we focused upon the compliance expectations, laws, rules, and regulations that protected our clients’ and consumers’ interests. Much like the original 13 colonies must have felt when they broke away, our separation from established practices was an act of revolutionary aspiration with no certainty of success. But with hard work and perseverance our business soon flourished as our clients, consumers, and regulators appreciated our unique approach.
Jefferson Capital & Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness
Second, and somewhat related, at Jefferson Capital we have always believed that all individuals have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. What does this mean? We never forget that the consumers with whom we partner to find solutions must always be afforded dignity, respect, and freedom to make decisions that work best for them and their families. We are there to listen and work with them to find resolutions that work. Ultimately, we seek to be their partner as they pursue happiness in their lives.
Independence, Freedom and Success
Independence is to be cherished, and individuals’ efforts to earn and exercise freedom are vitally important to our civil society. Our separation from the industry, as well as our embrace of the Declaration of Independence’s most fundamental theme concerning life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, is the guiding principle that underpins our every success. Happy Fourth of July.