Since the onset of Covid19 AICDP has been working closely with our members and partners to assess our professions’ problems, solutions and thoughts, both in the short and longer-term and give voice to the issues. During these conversations, the question that was most frequently asked of me was “when do you think we will return to normal?” Since witnessing the evolution of the virus from its beginning in China, throughout South East Asia, Middle East and The Americas it has in a relatively short period of time progressively hit all of the developed economies with devastating effect. So the short answer to the question is that we will never return to normal, but we will return to “something” and as Professionals, we need to be thinking long and hard about what that “something” will look like. Perhaps it will be what many people are now referring to as “the new normal”.
Embedded in all of this, in my opinion, there will some certainties, some probabilities and many speculative considerations.
What is an absolute certainty is that the International Credit Profession will emerge from this as pivotal in the economic recovery of both businesses and national economies. This is not only an exercise in wishful thinking from someone who believes passionately in the importance of our Profession and has fought throughout their career to elevate its profile. It is absolutely endorsed by two critical factors.
- It is commonly accepted that Credit and Collection comes to the fore at the end of a recession and what we will be dealing with now will be a depression where a sharp and prolonged decrease in economic growth occurs. AICDP was conceived in the last quarter of 2013 in direct response to the emergence of International Credit Directors appointed over the previous five years. Given that the crash of 2008 was the catalyst for this elevation in status of our profession, the enormity of what we are now being required to manage will certainly propel the Profession to a higher level. We will be measured by how well we acquit ourselves when managing the crisis, much as we did post 2008.
- As governments across the world race to support their economies, very much a common theme is that grants and loans are being made to give them the liquidity to survive. No other profession is so focused on and better understands the importance of cash. Although enterprises can for some time survive without profits they can survive for no time without cash. We will continue to exercise our skills in accelerating cash into our own businesses and establish how much cash we will be prepared to put at risk when supplying our existing and future customer base.
Moving on to probabilities, the greatest of which in my opinion is that a high percentage of people who have moved to home working will remain there permanently. This will not be restricted to Credit and Collection professionals and will broadly apply to society in general. Enterprises will recognise the immense savings that can be achieved by not having big and expensive premises and that true professionals do not require to be micro managed or subjected to close physical control. Although this raises significant questions in regards to working space, communications and distributed technology. By the time final decisions are made we will have gone the apprenticeship of enforced home working, we will have identified the problems, learnt to adapt, improved and perfected the technology we need to remain efficient.
For speculative considerations, we must firstly think of the seismic shift that will occur in the fortunes of the industries that exist with our customer base. Medical, pharmaceutical and life sciences will soar, the corresponding effect on transport by air, sea and land is likely to be the reverse. These are to name but a few and the successful Credit Professionals will have to be ready to anticipate, identify and react to these changes.
AICDP and our partners will be side by side with our members as we navigate these difficult times.