New service: International Terms Review

We are happy to bring a new service to our clients - International Terms Review.

 

This service is for our clients that trade across borders and need to ensure they have adequate protection in place to ensure quick, simple and cost-effective action should the need arise.

 

We have introduced this service after a number of cases we've handled on behalf of our clients which have seen the need for international terms review.

 

Please read more about this service by downloading the brochure here:

 

 


CM INTERVIEW

Baker Ing's Director, Lisa Baker, was interviewed recently for 'De Credit Manager Magazine', in The Netherlands. We now republish the interview here for our client's convenience:

‘We see an objection from a prospect as an opportunity’

The market for Global Debt Collection companies is crowded. Few would believe that starting a new organization in this field could be successful. Yet, this is exactly what Lisa Baker and Sarah Ing have done. And successfully so. Off to a flying start, Baker Ing International has significantly exceeded even their own expectations. Credit Manager is talking to Lisa Baker about her passion for Credit Management and what motivates her to start a new venture.

How did you start working in Credit Management?

I had had several positions in the commercial departments of large companies in the Oil and Gas industry when I got the opportunity to join the UK operation of a Global Reference Bureau. The company pioneered the use of the emerging technology of the Internet to supply business information in real time. Originally, the company focused on providing services to smaller and medium sized businesses, but I found that large companies could be interested as well. I got the opportunity to start the Key Account Department. As the name suggests, we marketed to and looked after large clients. I rapidly won new customers and developed a Global Accounts role, travelling internationally and delivering Global data contracts.

Lisa Baker - Co-Director, Baker Ing

In 2013, I moved to an operational position at an International and commercial debt collection specialist. I literally moved from a role at the front of the process to a position at the back. At the reference agency, I had a client facing position responsible for services related to sales to our client’s customers. At the Debt Collection company, I worked with clients to recover debts when things had gone wrong.

Why did you decide to start your own business?

The Credit Agency changed the way of obtaining and distributing credit information. They disrupted the market. Firstly, by breaking down the cost of the service but also by giving the large companies the opportunity to build their own rating methodologies. I worked with many of my customers to move away from the traditional way of retrieval of information on individual companies to getting large amounts of data and to use this material to support their own objectives. As I supported my clients developing their own credit score, I effectively created the demand for our services.

I then started to build common score cards, based on the experience we had gained in customer specific projects. This allowed us to standardize the information we would get from different regions. Info from Eastern Europe, for example, is significantly different from the standards in Western European companies. We needed to have a template to make the different info sets comparable.

There was a massive uptake of the service. Technology became a common topic in my conversations. Companies wanted to automate the credit underwriting process. These organizations automated the credit underwriting process long before Artificial Intelligence was applied in collections.

And then, there was another trend that assisted us. Many large international companies moved from decentralized to centralized operations. And from centralized to captive or outsourced Shared Service Centers in Eastern Europe. Centralization and setting up Shared Services require standardization of processes. As there is now volume and a drive from the top, the new processes can be automated more easily. Hitachi was one of my customers who centralized their Accounts Receivables process to a center in the UK and later moved it on to Krakow in Poland.

My time at the Debt Collection Agency was different. Collection companies all act very much in the same way. Clients, large household brands, have issues with trust when they engage with a DCA. But no one offers anything to alleviate these concerns. The recruitment of the staff working in the DCA’s International call centers is focused on finding the right language skills, at the expense of finding the right experience and aptitude to handle complex collection cases. And then I found that, contrary to what happened at the credit information market, there is no one even trying to disrupt the status quo.

This is where I saw an opportunity. Across Europe, there is availability of know-how and talent as many experienced people have been made redundant due to the trend to set up Shared Service Centers. Large organizations need professionals to protect their brand, they were looking for reliable, efficient, partners. I developed the idea to build a European wide network of experienced credit managers/partners to handle cross border receivables. Each case is handled by a credit manager from the moment it is assigned to us until the resolution and the closing of the file. This approach also provides a solution for the common problem that there is a drop in communication when the case moves from DCA to legal. This idea gestated in 2015 but the company I worked for was acquired by another firm and the project never came off the ground.

Together with Sarah Ing, a colleague, we decided to put our money where our mouth is, as they say, and we started the business. We are thrilled with the results. The market likes the concept. We have set up a Global operation with Credit Manager’s employed across the world. We have significantly exceeded our first-year budget. Are we disruptive? We see ourselves as a DCA boutique with a way of working to go with it. We have this concept of local partners, who we also incentivize once the file has gone legal. We do not rely on automation, but we have introduced intelligent ways of working. As a matter of fact, we do best when prospects raise objections, because we always try to turn them into an opportunity.

You are based in the UK, but you spend a lot of time in The Netherlands. What can we in The Netherlands learn from the UK?

Oh, that is a question I would need to think about more and I will not talk about Brexit. I love The Netherlands and the way the people work. The Dutch are straight speaking, that is great, but they are also indecisive. The Brits are more spontaneous when making decisions. I would recommend that when Dutch people engage in business with British people, they can take advantage of our trait to want to ‘get it done’. You can often get the deal you want by being able to conclude the business quickly!