London, November 2011 - The latest survey of credit management professionals, conducted jointly by the Institute of Credit Management (ICM) and leading business information provider, Equifax, reveals a huge increase in the use of credit data compared to 2010, as businesses look to reduce their risk of bad debt. In the survey of ICM members, 86% said they use credit and business data checks for new customers and suppliers, compared to just 37% last year. And 85% use data for ongoing monitoring, but only 41% said the same a year ago.
In 2010, 59% reported an increase in late payments that year, but this is down slightly to 52% in 2011. Over a third (36%) are chasing late payments up to 3 days sooner than they were a year ago, up slightly on 2010. And 20% are chasing four days sooner, compared to 29% twelve months ago. Late payments remain a major issue for businesses, which accounts for the sharp increase in the use of data checks and ongoing monitoring, as firms keep a closer eye on new and existing customers and suppliers.
The survey shows that the current market conditions continue to put a strain on businesses, with 65% saying the Government should offer more support to protect small businesses from the negative impact of late payments. This is down on the 77% who said the same last year, but clearly shows a significant level of dissatisfaction.
Key findings of the survey show that the threat of redundancy has decreased. In 2010 63% of those surveyed said their company had made redundancies, but this figure has dropped to 44% in 2011. With a focus on credit management, these roles remain key for many businesses with 77% saying their department was not affected by redundancies, up 5% on the previous year.
"It's interesting to see that the use of credit and business data checks has soared in the last 12 months, illustrating its value in managing risk and reducing bad debt," says Mark Nuttall, Director, Equifax Commercial & SME. "The use of new customer checks and ongoing monitoring has more than doubled. And over half (50.5%) use data for verification when chasing debt, as firms continue to clamp down on late payments.
"Quality business and credit data is clearly more important than ever to businesses, as they struggle to operate in an uncertain economy. Ongoing monitoring and robust checks continue to offer the best protection from bad debt, helping companies continue to make informed business decisions and operate with confidence."
Philip King, Chief Executive of the ICM, adds, "Late payments continue to put businesses under added strain, in an already fragile economy. The survey shows that businesses are struggling to tackle late payments and the majority would like Government support, but it is also up to professional credit managers, and specifically members of the ICM, to take the lead in reducing the impact of bad debt and improving levels of best practice."
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