Have a quick scan through some of our blogs over the last 10 months or so and you will notice repeated references to the industries we have worked with and in over the years (before JSP Credit Management became a company). For the sake of quick reference, as we usually write blogs between 1000-1500 words and it could take you a while to have a quick scan through them, we talk about being experienced at working in construction and the legal sector.
But why do we mention it? The purpose of this blog is to answer that very question. We hope that the benefit of doing so will help both fellow professionals working in the credit management industry and also to creditors alike who are considering outsourcing a portfolio to a third-party debt collection agency or even just a one-off case and wondering who the best company to place it with is.
But first, allow us to note that another habit we like to maintain with our blogs is offering up to date insights on the impact that debt is having on businesses across industries. What we know right now is that there were 1,365 CVL’s in December 2021 (England & Wales) which is a 37% increase from the previous year and the construction industry accounted for the highest proportion of insolvencies in 2021. We see a problem that is getting worse at the moment, not better.
So, what are we doing about it? By “we”, we mean the industry of credit management professionals and debt collection agencies like ourselves. Well, have a look back at last week’s guest blog and you will see an example of it. Companies such as Curtis’ Construction Credit and Finance Group appear to be recognising the benefit of specialising in specific industries. We have several in the UK too who have taken a similar position.
To get into it then. What needs to be discussed is the true benefit of specialising in certain industries as a company. Also, to illustrate why there is a benefit after all don’t all debt collectors mainly use the same old methods of recovery regardless of the industry within which they are operating? We must confess; we think they do. We are sure that all of us possess a phone and an email account and a printer for sending letters but what influences the outcomes?
It needs to be made explicit that especially when acting as a third party DCA, the portfolio, no matter how large, can usually be characterised by the fact that it is what we know as “non-performing”. In other words, the contractual obligations that both parties signed up for have not been met by at least one of the parties, or sometimes both. Therefore, problem-solving in credit management is absolutely par for the course.
But the extent to which that is possible of course depends on the depth of experience, skill and knowledge possessed by those who are tasked with providing solutions to said problems. To illustrate this point, calling a carpenter our to fix a problem with your broken-down washing machine is unlikely to result in a fruitful endeavour. Some knowledge of the way washing machines works is essential to being able to repair them.
The situation is very much the same in debt collection. Employing a strategy of simply calling through a huge list of debtors trying to chase payment on a bunch of NPL’s is not likely to yield the kind of returns that any of the stakeholders involved are hoping for, including yourself as the collector. To play devil’s advocate here, if that was all it took then it wouldn’t have made it to your desk in the first place. It is there because it requires something else.
Take the work we have spent years doing in the construction industry as an example since we have singled them out as the industry that has unfortunately been the most badly affected by company insolvencies in the last year. If we did not understand what retainers were then we would be badly placed to help resolve a situation whereby a contractor and the client are disputing whether or not works completed were in scope or not.
Similarly, in the legal profession if we did not understand that fee earners rates varied according to either their PQE (post-qualified experience) or job title and this had not been agreed upon in the framework agreement which resulted in a
dispute on fees then we would again be put at a serious disadvantage when entering into discussions with the parties involved on how to move it forward.
Yes, some of our core skills are transferable across any industry that we may work in such as the ability to remain calm if emotions become fraught during discussions about the terms of repayment, or strong organisational skills that allow us to prioritise our work according to the varying, and often conflicting, deadlines that we work to working in credit management. However, without that in-depth industry-specific knowledge it is likely to result in difficulties achieving the desired outcome.,
For those new to the credit management industry and wondering how you get there. We can only offer you the benefit of our experience. Some wonderful training opportunities within credit management will equip you with many of the skills and help you to develop behaviours that will be a great help to you in your career as a credit management professional, but our view is that when it comes to industry-specific knowledge, nothing equates to hands-on experience and inquisitive nature.
Seek out opportunities to learn more about the underlying cause of disputes that you come across as a debt collector, do additional research into areas of that industry that keep coming into your work, the internet is a phenomenal resource for that, speak to people in your organisation who are more experienced than you. Most people are usually happy to part with their wisdom to help a new recruit learn
how to do the job more effectively. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to clients for fear of sounding stupid. It usually comes across that you care more than you are stupid.
For creditors too, we want to reiterate the point we made at the start and have underscored fairly comprehensively throughout this blog. Imagine the difference between relying on someone who does not know the first thing about your services or products and how you deliver them as an organisation compared to someone that has spent years either in your industry or working with people within your industry and do not need to have everything explained to them. The difference in efficiency is significant.
The question was is being familiar with the industry that you working with the difference between being good and great as a credit management professional and at risk of being controversial were going to say it is. We also do not mind opposing views as an organisation so feel free to share them with us. We say it not simply because of the outcomes that are possible because of it but also the qualities a professional usually possess to get to that point are also greatly beneficial too.
There is a great deal more to be considered when it comes to great credit management, but we hope we have given you a brief insight into some of the important and contemporary factors that need to be considered.
If you are interested in knowing more or wish to have a chat about a particular area of uncertainty then get in touch for a free no-obligation discussion at www.jspcreditmanagement.co.uk or contact us on 01827 66820 to discuss your needs.