Bill Bartmann

“I’m on a mission to reform the debt
collection industry in America.”

About Bill

Bill Bartmann is a consumer advocate/entrepreneur who has been working to help consumers achieve financial inclusion long before the term was in widespread use. The common thread in all Bill’s corporate projects over the past 40 years has been the idea that once you remove the financial stress in a family by helping them obtain or regain access to inexpensive financial products and services, you also reduce the social and economic impact of divorce, substance abuse, bankruptcy, high-school drop-outs, and teen pregnancy.

Bill spent the first five years of his legal career protecting consumers who were being abused by predatory lenders and egregious debt collectors. It was the experiences learned here coupled with his family’s personal history that created the impetus to “change the system from within.” Bill then set out to create businesses that delivered these results.

Bill’s first major enterprise was Commercial Financial Services, where he helped 4.5 million consumers resolve their outstanding delinquent debts at significant discounts and helped them to get back on their feet financially – a key predicate to financial inclusion. He re-shaped the modern debt collection industry and achieved unprecedented scale through a revolutionary philosophy of treating consumers in a respectful and dignified manner regardless of their financial situation. With 4.5 million customers, Bill never filed even a single lawsuit to collect a debt and yet achieved a level of success not matched even 20 years later. Those seemingly conflicting outcomes were powerfully influenced by Bill’s belief that a greater good could be achieved by finding mutual benefit for all parties.

Next, Bill took on the challenge of demonstrating that alternative financial services could be delivered without predatory and abusive behavior and that hard-core unbanked and under-banked consumers could be provided the opportunity to obtain more traditional financial services. Bill was the Founder of Neighborhood Financial Center, a provider of low-cost payday loan, check cashing, pawn services, and credit counseling. In two years Bill grew NFC to 72,000 customers in Northeast Oklahoma by offering better value in a customer-centric environment with a core of financial literacy. NFC’s accomplishments were recognized and lauded by political leaders at the federal, state, and local level and by civic, religious, minority leaders as well as newspaper publishers and non-profit organizations.

Bill’s current venture is Financial Samaritan. Samaritan provides services to consumers for debt-negotiation, job search, social services and financial literacy; all at absolutely no cost to the consumer. In some cases, Samaritan has helped customers improve FICO scores 150 points in six months by increasing their net disposable income and eliminating debt at significant discounts. This process creates healthier and more stable families that are provided a path to conventional financial services. Samaritan is successful at creating lender-borrower relationships with these consumers by restructuring their debts with fully amortizing loans and affordable payment plans and single digit interest rates. Samaritan drives financial inclusion through its free services as well as its lending programs.

Bill is recognized as a leading consumer advocate and a constant campaigner for reform of debt collection and alternative financial services industries. He is the Best Selling author of four books, numerous white papers and articles that have appeared in major magazines and newspapers. Bill was nominated to the Consumer Advisory Board of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) by the President of the American Bankers Association, Attorneys General from six states, and a wide range of community leaders. Bill regularly attends policy oriented meetings offering his expertise to select Federal Agencies in Washington, D.C., including Education, Treasury and the CFPB and advocacy organizations.

Bill is both an accomplished “social change agent” and businessman. He was named National Entrepreneur of the Year twice by USA Today, NASDAQ, Inc. Magazine, Ernst & Young, and the Kauffman Foundation. He was recipient of the Golden Plate Award from the American Academy of Achievement. Additionally, Bill was named one of the Top 100 Entrepreneurs of the Last 100 Years by Apple Computer and the Kauffman Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership. He was recognized by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History for the innovative use of information technology. And his company’s business model was the subject of a Harvard Business School Case Study. He is currently working with Princeton University on a study of consumer financial decision making behavior. Bill serves on The Board of Trustees for the California Institute for Advanced Management.

In 2013, Bill was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his initiatives to foster stronger families, healthier children with better educational outcomes and to reduce the level of spousal, child, and substance abuse by eliminating the stress placed on families that was caused by abusive and unethical debt collection and alternative financial services industries. His unique accomplishments have been featured on the CBS Evening News (www.cfstwo.com/CBS/).

Bill received his Juris Doctor degree from Drake University and his Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Loras College. Bill resides in Tulsa, OK with his wife Kathy, to whom he has been married for 42 years. Bill and Kathy have 2 daughters and 4 grandchildren.

The CFS Story

Watch as Bill shares the story about what happened at CFS in 1998 when Bill’s former business partner committed fraud and sent the company into bankruptcy.

 
© 2013 Bill Bartmann. All rights reserved.