Robert O. Carr, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Heartland Payment Systems Inc., sent us this response to a letter from Transaction Network Services' Lisa Shipley and titled "Parity for women in payments." Shipley's letter appeared in the Readers Speak section of The Green Sheet, July 14, 2014, issue 14:07:01.
Equal opportunity and career pathing for women is a topic that we take very seriously at Heartland Payment Systems. I was happy to read Lisa Shipley's letter in The Green Sheet about this important issue and felt obliged to comment.
Personally, when I look around, I think there are too many white males in our business. At Heartland, we're trying to do our part to increase gender diversity. We have two CEOs in our business units, one of which is a woman – Sarah McCrary, CEO of Leaf Holdings – and 1/3 of our nearly 1,000 sales people are women.
I think it's important to expand the conversation beyond gender though to talk about millennials, for which we see similar characteristics and opportunities. Our workforce is changing as baby boomers retire and millennials enter our workforce. Baby boomers made up more than half of the U.S. workforce in 2010, but they will eventually be outnumbered by millennials. A study by Forbes projects that three out of four workers will be millennials by 2025.
We recognize this at Heartland and are trying to structure our culture to be attractive to this workforce. Doing so requires us to think differently though. Surprisingly what millennials want from their employer - work-life balance, the ability to work remotely and in a business with ethical practices – is what's attracted so many women to Heartland.
Knowing that millennials are the future, like women in payments, we have to prepare them to be leaders. There are steps both groups can take for millennials to get on the playing field and women to even it out. The first is to be clear about their ambitions in the company so senior management knows their desires and expectations. And second step is to seek out great mentors early in their careers and to find sponsors willing to help further their career growth.
In addition to it being the right thing to do, parity for women and millennials in the payments industry is smart business because, in general, they drive the purchasing decisions and their spending power is increasing. Millennials also bring an innate instinct and insights into how payments are made - 67 percent of millennials use mobile apps during their shopping experiences. And they collectively are expected to spend more than $200 billion annually starting in 2017 and $10 trillion in their lifetimes, which is proof we should be engaging this generation today.
Following is a response from Rori Ferensic to "Is the CPP D.O.A?" by Tom Waters and Ben Abel, The Green Sheet, Aug. 11, 2014, issue 14:08:01. Ferensic is Director of Certification and Professional Development at the Electronic Transactions Association:
In their recent article, "Is the CPP D.O.A?", Tom Waters and Ben Abel of Bank Associate Merchant Services asked a series of questions about the value of the ETA CPP credential. While ETA always welcomes the feedback of payments professionals, the article does not accurately represent the program, and we appreciate the opportunity to reiterate the remarkable professional benefits of the ETA CPP program.
Let's take a look at what it means to be an ETA CPP. As the voice of the payments industry, ETA has worked for nearly 25 years to help payments companies grow their business. In response to overwhelming calls in the industry for creation of a professional credentialing program, we developed and launched the ETA Certified Payments Professional program less than three years ago.
With a curriculum developed by ETA member company volunteers, ETA developed the industry's first certification program, using testing-industry standards and independent guidelines to ensure the highest quality program. We continue to update the program with the latest educational tools, including robust information about payments technology and regulatory and compliance challenges. Again, industry volunteers – payments professionals like you – design and update the ETA CPP program to ensure it remains the most valuable educational tool in payments. The ETA CPP program sets the standard for professional performance in the payments industry and is a symbol of excellence. As ETA CPP approaches its third anniversary, we are proud to report that almost 1,000 individuals have earned the credential (www.castleworldwide.com/ETA/registry/RegistrySearch.aspx). More and more ETA member companies, such as Merchant Warehouse, Moneris, Vantiv and North American Bancard, now require sales personnel and other employees to obtain the credential. The investment by these payments leaders is indicative of the program's value for both the individual and the company. Additionally, the regional acquirers associations sponsor ETA CPP scholarships to assist in the growth and support of the program.
This viewpoint is shared by many proud ETA CPPs who continue to provide us with great feedback. Here's just one of countless examples; it was sent to us from Eric Bostic, ETA CPP™, Capital Bancard: "Having the ETA CPP™ certification helped me land my largest account to date. I had been working on a very large account for some time now and the CFO was preparing to make her choice of which processor to use between another agent and myself. I informed her that I had recently attained my ETA CPP™ certification (June '13). She actually went to the ETA website, did her own research and chose me because I was certified. The company is a $48 million dollar/year account. Needless to say, I am happy, happy, happy that I took the time to get certified."
This year, some 200 ETA CPPs will be recertifying by submitting 36 hours of continuing education credit. These continuing education credits can be obtained by attending any industry-related conference or event, not just ETA events. We know that all payments professionals need to stay current in this rapidly changing industry, and we want to ensure that ETA CPPs can easily maintain their credential every three years.
Now that I've given some background, I'd like to address some of the issues raised by Mr. Waters and Mr. Abel. The authors compared ETA CPP to the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensure, which is an apples to oranges comparison. Licensure is a non-voluntary process by which a governmental agency regulates a profession. It grants permission to an individual to engage in an occupation only if the applicant demonstrates sufficient competency to protect the public health, safety, and welfare. Licensing is always based on the action of a legislative body. Once a licensing law has been passed, it becomes illegal for anyone to engage in that occupation without a license.
A voluntary certification program such as the ETA CPP program, on the other hand, is a means by which a non-governmental professional organization, like ETA, grants recognition to an individual who has met a certain set of qualifications. It is a credential which attests that the individual has demonstrated a mastery of a specific body of knowledge and skills within the relevant field of practice. The ETA CPP program offers industry professionals a unique opportunity to demonstrate the highest level of skill and competency to their current and future customers.
Mr. Waters and Mr. Abel also ask what ETA is doing to market the certification to the merchant community. ETA is working hard to promote the benefits of the ETA CPP program to the merchant community. For example, we developed a Merchant Fact Sheet (www.electran.org/doc/cpp/ETACPP-Factsheet.pdf) to help educate merchants on the value of ETA CPPs and placed ads promoting the program in the National Retail Federation's Stores.
And we can always do more. So in the next few months, ETA will launch a targeted public relations campaign to further get the word out to merchants about the value of doing business with an ETA CPP. We are partnering with merchant groups such as MAG and NRF in this effort. ETA is also launching an ETA CPP newsletter to ensure our members have the latest information on all things related to the program.
At ETA, we take seriously our commitment to our members and we always appreciate feedback. Please feel free to reach out to us and let us know how we can better help you grow your business.
We appreciate Robert O. Carr and Rori Ferensic for furthering the discussion of issues vitally important to payment professionals. You can take leadership, too. Please send your feedback, ideas and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. And send your company news in press release format to email@example.com.
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