Nov 06, 2017

NGPF Podcast: Tim Talks To Steve Frederickson, Executive Chairman of PRA Group

I really enjoyed my recent conversation with Steve Frederickson of PRA Group. He just recently stepped down as CEO of PRA, a company he founded 20 years ago (Hat tip to Melissa at NGPF for connecting me with Steve) Looking back at his tenure, Steve shares the ups and downs (mostly ups!) that make entrepreneurial ventures so satisfying and so all consuming too. Steve shares that journey from developing an enduring strategy for PRA right out of the gate as a start-up, to taking the company public, to managing it successfully for over two decades. That is a rare feat indeed to take a company from 0 to public and then successfully manage it over the long-term. He also details what he and his team learned in helping millions of indebted consumers manage their debts and what he thinks all young adults should know about credit. Enjoy!


  • 0:00–1:04 Introduction
  • 1:05–2:04 Steve’s day job
  • 2:05–5:02 Portfolio Recovery Associates's (PRA) business model and the role it plays in consumer debt markets
  • 5:03–9:44 The multi-faceted Steve of all trades 
  • 9:45–14:04 How his early career set the foundation for starting PRA and why he seized the opportunity
  • 14:05–15:41 Pitching the startup to early investor, Angelo Gordon
  • 15:42–18:59 How the company differentiated itself from others in the field
  • 19:00–23:38 The challenges that debt collectors face
  • 23:39–30:59 Establishing the rapport with customers
  • 31:00–34:01 How to bridge the technology gap and make contact
  • 34:02–36:11 Important attributes of debt collector callers
  • 36:12–37:21 The right information & helping customers pay off their debt
  • 37:22–47:36 Throwback to how PRA went public
  • 47:37–48:44 Instant gratification is a financial pitfall you want to avoid
  • 48:45–50:39 How your credit history is like a career
  • 50:40–51:55 How can we overcome a lack of financial education knowledge?
  • 51:56–53:50 Parting advice: Sweat the little things in your entrepreneurial journey
  • 53:51–54:34 Conclusion


Notable Quotes:

  • “If you’re wired in a certain way, then things are actually less stressful in an entrepreneurial situation where you actually control your destiny even though you don’t have that big company that’s standing behind you with a salary and all the rest.”
  • “We use our data, we use behavioral data, we use third party data to try to predict when the right time to reach a consumer is, and once your reach the consumer, we really try to offer a very understanding approach number one, and a very flexible approach number two… We don’t charge interest [or fees] to the consumer… We offer this continuity of relationship.”


About the Authors

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.

Danielle Bautista

Danielle is a native of Southern California and a recent graduate from the University of Maine, where she braved the frigid winters—a feat in and of itself—and earned her Bachelor's degree in International Affairs. She has a passion for working with non-profit organizations and serving populations in underprivileged communities. When Danielle isn't writing NGPF blog posts, spearheading various outreach projects, or managing contests and flash surveys, you can find her doing some sort of outdoor activity, learning a new hobby, or cracking what she thinks are witty puns!

Mail Icon

Subscribe to the blog

Join the more than 11,000 teachers who get the NGPF daily blog delivered to their inbox: