Credit Reporting as defined by Dun & Bradstreet and its’ long standing motto “ Man’s Confidence in Man” or other World Renowned Credit Reporting agencies is the focus on a Business’ ability and record to retire its trade obligations – Is there real confidence in the business one is extending trade credit to.
THEN – in years past – some 40-50 years in my experience, there was a driven belief that a Credit Reporting agency truly did an investigation as to a business’ ability and record of retiring trade obligations.
Businesses were “visited” by an investigator/reporter where a physical assessment of the business, its situation/location, its’ suppliers, its’ financial reports were reviewed and an “eye ball to eye ball’ interview was conducted with the Business’ owners/principals. That assessment included calls to the Business’ suppliers and bankers for their considered experience and opinions. As time progressed this “interview” process was slowly eroded by the belief that this was “too expensive” and “too slow” a process. More expedient methods of “data gathering” were adopted, such as “telephone interviews” or “drive by” assessments of a given business. Even methods of requesting the business owner to “confirm/add to” existing data via mail were introduced. Along the way, these methods too, were deemed too slow, too costly and too inaccurate in terms of their ability to confirm/gather reliable information. These processes and “so called failures” led us to the ACCEPTANCE of Present Day / Now “Credit Reports” which generally are the following:
NOW – Generally in today’s global markets Credit Reports are accepted as “compilations of information” from Websites, Public Records and “Common Knowledge” files. These “Compilations of Information” have become generally accepted views/information on Businesses. WHY – I believe it is mainly because No One knows how to question or validate the information they receive. There does not appear to be any Verification/Validation of information – Purely it is accepted as FACT. This process leads serious experienced Credit people to quote their suspicions “that agencies are taking whatever the business tells them as fact” WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN? WHERE HAVE ALL OF THE TRAINED INQUISITIVE/QUESTIONING Credit People gone?
Simply put – “They” have been replaced by lesser expensive “accountant/clerical types” who know little, have little experience and don’t know the “pitfalls” of their trade.
WHY HAS THIS HAPPENED AND WHAT ARE THE RISKS?
It is the honest belief of this writer that the Credit Tragedy of the 2000’s is coming – Not unlike what took place very recently with the Current Economic Crisis – Only this time it will be different – This time it will be the “unsuspecting” unsecured Business Trade Creditors who will be most surprised and affected.
This Credit Tragedy will take place purely because the Credit Managers of today ARE NOT and WILL NOT be aware of the RISK they are taking while extending credit to their Customers. The Tragedy will come because the So Called Credit Reports they are receiving and making Major Decisions on will be totally inadequate to caution them of the risk they are taking.
No Current Information, No Serious Assessment of the Capability and Capacity of the business they are extending credit to will be in their hands for real assessment.
So Called Credit Reports with No Validation, No In-depth assessment of the Financial Means of a business or its’ Management and its’ Payment Track Record is or can be available. Generally what is accepted as a Credit Report is almost misleading to the average Credit Manager or Credit Grantor.
That is my opinion of what the “Current Credit Report” situation is and what it is going to lead us to down the road.
THE FUTURE – OF BUSINESS CREDIT REPORTS
Or Should it be asked – The Future of Business Credit Report Agencies?
What concerns many Credit People AND Credit Reporting Agencies is – What is the REAL FUTURE of the Credit Reporting Business and to those Customers of those Credit Reporting Agencies – What is their future? and how will they be expected to utilize to make their Extremely Important and Risky Credit Decisions?
When one thinks about what has been said about THEN and NOW the REAL QUESTIONS IS – How can people rely on poorly investigated, highly questionable unverified information? What many of the major Credit Reporting Agencies are selling today is “predictive” data/information – Does this sales pitch not lead one to wonder – How can information reports be “predictive” when the foundation i.e. the data itself is not “predictably” correct? When Information is not reliable, not verified not quantified where then is the basis for “predictability”?
On the other hand those Credit Reporting Agencies who “stick to their basics” spend the funds needed to verify information/and confirm it, will ultimately survive. Yes, they will cost a little more, yes they will be a little slower on delivery – but, are those real problems for “over anxious” customers who just want to make Quick Decisions without High Quality Verified Information?
The Real Question is – How will organizations survive the next Economic Commercial Downturn, which assuredly will come, and this time will be an Economic Downturn, Not Involving Consumers, but inevitably a Downturn that is impacted by bad decision in the Business/Commercial Market.
Just think about all of those Commercial/Business Credit Decisions that have been made on low quality faulty/questionable Customer Credit Report Information. Who will be impacted most – Definitely NOT the Credit Reporting Agencies – They will have long since banked their profits and moved on – IT WILL BE THE UNSUSPECTING COMMERCIAL TRADE CREDITORS WHO SUFFER and THEIR CREDIT DEPARTMENT MANAGERS AND STAFF.
A bleak Future is in store, for those unsuspecting souls who are not aware of what they are and have been relying on for Quality Credit Information.
A wake up call is in order in the Commercial/Business Credit Reporting and Credit Information Buyers world – Count on it.
One World Credit Services, Inc.
: Neil Campbell has over fifty years as an innovative leader in the field of credit management. During his 30 + years with Dun Bradstreet he reached very senior management positions and was responsible as President for Japan and Asia Pacific region for D & B, for turning the company’s financial position around. He is recognised today amongst his peers as one of the most experienced authorities in the field of credit management and reporting.