William R. Bartmann, Chairman and CEO
Bill Bartmann is a consumer advocate/entrepreneur who has been working for a very long time to help consumers achieve financial stability and success. The common thread in all of 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 Student Samaritan. Samaritan provides services to consumers with Student Loan Debt in the form of 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.
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 43 years. Bill and Kathy have 2 daughters and 4 grandchildren.
Tom Simonson, Co-Founder
Tom Simonson is the co-founder of Student Samaritan. He provides the required entrepreneurial skills and insight to identify key business opportunities and then develops the implementation plan for our key growth strategies. He is a member of the Executive Committee.
Prior to joining Student Samaritan, Tom was General Manager of the Technology, Consulting and Systems Integration Division at Unisys Corporation. Tom was responsible for the worldwide go-to-market plan, global sales organization, customer satisfaction and field operations. He had full P&L responsibility and $1.7B in top line revenue.
Prior to Tom’s position at Unisys, he was the EVP of Mainline Information Systems, a privately held IT solutions company. Before joining Mainline, Tom spent the first 21 years of his career at IBM, starting as a Marketing Representative in the Financial Services Industry and then progressing through their worldwide management development program. He held a wide variety of executive roles, including several global positions where he was responsible for diverse aspects of IBM’s business including Hardware, Software, Services and the Channel. During his last five years, Tom was a member of IBM’s Senior Leadership Team, a group comprised of their most senior executives on a global basis.
Tom received his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Drexel University.
Wayne Learned, Co-Founder and CAO
Wayne Learned is the Chief Administrative Officer. He is responsible for execution of business strategies, and to ensure the right staff skills are in place to implement the business plans. He is a Director of the Company, a member of the Executive Committee and Leader of the Strategic Planning Committee.
Wayne has a strong entrepreneurial background, having been co-founder of two start-up financial services companies. He also has large company experience, having been a Senior Executive of the nation’s largest consumer collection agency and Executive Vice President of a major statewide retail bank in Oklahoma.
Wayne was Chief Operating Officer at CFS, Inc. On Wayne’s watch, CFS grew at an annualized rate of over 7,000%. CFS was named by Inc. Magazine as one of the 500 Fastest Growing Companies in America — four years in a row. Wayne was responsible for the development and implementation of the infrastructure and strategic planning process. His extensive banking experience includes key lending responsibilities for commercial lending and project developments, mortgage lending and servicing, consumer lending and servicing and was responsible for the largest retail banking network in the state.
Wayne is active in the community. He is a past Director and Officer of the Oklahoma Investment Forum, a non-profit economic development organization. He was a guest lecturer at the University of Tulsa and an instructor at Tulsa Community College where he taught banking. He is past president of the Credit Counseling Centers of Tulsa, and past board member of the American Red Cross, Metropolitan Tulsa Chamber of Commerce and the Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce. He is active in education reform and was a Founding Director of the Union Schools Education Foundation. He is an Advisory Board Member of The Oklahoma Eagle, an African-American newspaper.
Wayne holds a BS degree from Northeastern State University and has completed the Financial Institutions Marketing School at the University of Virginia and the Bank Executive Development program at the University of Oklahoma.
Jessica Allsop, Co-Founder
Jessica Allsop is the co-founder of Student Samaritan. She has responsibility for overall day-to-day operations and leads the development of new features and functions of Student Samaritan. She is a member of the Executive Committee.
Her financial services management background includes management of the day-to-day operations of Bartmann Business Institute and production of more than fifty seminar programs, including its Workshop series for personal development and entrepreneurial skills. At BBI, Jessica saw the Company generate revenues of $24 million between 2007 and 2011.
Jessica began her management career with Neighborhood Financial Center, a provider of financial services to low-income and middle-income families. Under her guidance, NFC developed a customer base of 65,000 families in only two years.
Jessica holds a Business Degree from Baker University.