By Mark Scott
In a strong economy with low unemployment rates, Peter Hilger’s biggest challenge is finding employees.
“It’s hard to find people to work right now,” says the CEO of Allied Solutions, headquartered in Carmel, Indiana. “It’s a lot more challenging than it was four or five years ago. The pool of people applying is less, and I don’t mean less in terms of talent. There just aren’t as many people out there looking for jobs.”
To find and keep the best people, leadership at the financial services company spends a significant amount of time on strategic thinking and values, making sure Allied Solutions not only has the right people in place, but that those people will stay with the company for the long term.
“There is no special recipe other than the mindset and culture of the organization,” Hilger says. “It’s in how you reward people, and that is not always monetary. It’s in how you take care of people that makes them want to stay.”
When Hilger joined Allied Solution’s predecessor company in 1990, it had about 35 employees. Since then, the business has grown significantly and has a much broader reach, but that small-company feel remains and leadership continues to be focused on making sure people are taken care of.
“Even though we have 1,200 employees, we’re still very family oriented,” Hilger says. “We invest a ton in our employees, and not just in how much they make.”
He says the company also invests in facilities, in the health and welfare of employees and in the environment they work in to help ensure people are happy.
“When you have a culture that really cares and thrives on doing the right thing, even at the expense of not necessarily maximizing profit because you have to do the right thing, that’s a real key to our branding and who we are,” Hilger says.
“Employees’ needs have changed in the workplace. They are no longer looking for just a job,” he says. “Today’s employee wants more.”
It’s critical to work with employees to create an environment where they can think creatively to try new things and pursue innovation without the fear of failure. That investment in people has paid off for Allied Solutions, and employees who reach the five-year mark with the company are generally there to stay.
“We have a process for retention,” Hilger says. “It’s helping to build the working environment. People want to have something satisfying and gratifying to come to work to, and you really have to invest in those areas to compete in the marketplace — especially with the unemployment rate as low as it is.”
Hilger says the company strives to create strong bench strength, hiring people who are flexible in their thought process and who are able to think outside of just being good. And to help the company continue to attract the talented employees it needs, its recruiting team visits colleges and attends job fairs to fill its ongoing talent pipeline.
“There’s a lot of work you have to do to keep up with the job market,” Hilger says. “The world grows so quickly. You really need to stay on top of what your talented employees need.”
Diversifying to thrive
Hilger, who started with the organization as a client development manager, says product innovation, development and diversification are the other keys to continued success. The goal is to achieve a diversified customer base that works in multiple segments, including with finance companies, credit unions, banks and auto dealers.
And while a steady flow of new product development is crucial for any company, it is especially so for Allied Solutions.
“We even do a little business in the utility market,” Hilger says. “It’s a yin and yang with our product mix.
To continue to innovate and identify solutions to help clients evolve their business and address inefficiencies, the company’s robust M&A team keeps its finger on the pulse of new products that could help improve business for its more than 4,000 clients.
“You need to have a clear understanding of what products and services need to be refreshed,” Hilger says. “Products get stale, and new innovations come out.”
For example, Allied Solutions has helped its institutional clients on the risk management side of things when the number of delinquencies increases.
“When the economy is going well, loans are coming out and we have a lot of consumer value-facing products,” Hilger says. “When the economy slows down and really gets challenging, we have a lot of risk management products that help protect institutions. We’ve created a streamlined, efficient process to be able to manage delinquent loans for them and help them mitigate the ultimate loss on those loans.”
Technology and data drive innovation
The company relies heavily on technology and data to fuel that innovation to meet client demands.
“We have a significant amount of data,” Hilger says. “We started a venture many years back related to gathering big data to understand consumer behavior. We’re also part of several large organizations, both in the financial institution market and other markets, that provide us industry insight. We feel like we have good industry insight on our own, but you need to be in the trenches with those who live and breathe it every day.”
He says he used to say Allied Solutions was not a technology company, but that has changed.
“Fortunately or unfortunately, we are a technology company and are becoming more so,” he says. “Everything we deliver for that customer experience is driven by some piece of technology. We combine that personal service—that’s the distribution, the people side of it—with technology, which has led us to be extremely successful.”
That technology-driven, data-based process helps ensure the company stays on target.
“You’re not guessing,” Hilger says. “You have good probabilities and algorithms and a strong thought process.”
The result of this comprehensive effort is a company that has grown steadily for nearly two decades.
“Our growth over the past 15 or 20 years has been a nice vertical climb, with solid growth in revenue, sales and earnings,” Hilger says. “It’s created a really stable environment.”
Behind the scenes
Allied Solutions’ relationship with Huntington dates back to the earliest days of the company, and the bank has been with it every step of the way.
“Huntington has been key to our growth,” says Peter Hilger, CEO of Allied Solutions, which was formed in 2001 with the merger of Eldredge Corp. and FLS Services. “A lot of it happens behind the scenes, so customers don’t see it, but they do a phenomenal job.”
Allied Solutions manages many escrow accounts with Huntington.
“Each carrier that we do business with has to have its own escrow account set up, its own checking account that we’re cutting drafts out of,” he says. “Huntington has really been a stand-up organization that has been flexible with our needs.”
Huntington continues to find ways to innovate and improve when it comes to serving the needs of Allied Solutions.
“We meet with people at Huntington frequently,” he says. “It’s been a great relationship.”
For more information, visit alliedsolutions.net.