Welcome to issue 105 of Credit Insurance News Digest. The industry newsletter devoted to the global trade credit insurance industry. This issue is sponsored by Credendo.
Business Information & Reports
Credit insurance industry looks set to face its biggest challenges for a decade in 2019. Tinubu Square is predicting that with changes in the risk landscape, increasingly volatile markets and the continued threat of company insolvencies, in 2019 the credit insurance industry will face its most significant challenges for at least the last ten years. The company notes that while reinsurance capacity has been plentiful in the previous five years, this is now likely to change with shifts in local and global economic markets. This will result in less capacity and the need for players in the market to offer proven and sustainable models that have already embarked on digital transformation to lower costs and improve customer satisfaction. To read Tinubu Square’s news release go to https://www.tinubu.com/credit-insurance-industry-to-face-biggest-challenges-for-a-decade-in-2019-tinubu-square-predicts/.
US trade credit insurance premium rates are forecast to remain flat or rise modestly in 2019. Willis Towers Watson has published an article, ‚Insurance Marketplace Realities 2019 — Trade Credit‘, which provides an overview of the US trade credit insurance market and notes that large losses impacting the carriers are resulting in higher than average credit insurance claims activity and, consequently, a tighter underwriting stance, with „very conservative underwriting“ in the retail sector. The article also comments that although bank-driven premium has traditionally produced lower loss ratios and helped offset general price increases in the overall market, US trade credit insurance premium rates will remain flat or rise modestly in 2019. To read Willis Towers Watson’s article go to https://www.willistowerswatson.com/en/insights/2018/11/insurance-marketplace-realities-trade-credit.
The need for specialist trade credit insurance broker expertise has never been greater. In a recent news release, ICBA has noted that 2018 was a challenging year which saw trade credit insurance underwriters reducing limits and rejecting claims that might have been paid in previous years. 2019 is also likely to be similarly challenging. However, according to Andy Moylan, Managing Director of EFCIS Limited, these trends should not stop an organisation considering exporting to other countries – especially in emerging markets, and consequently means that the need for specialist broker expertise to ensure any trade credit insurance policy is fit for purpose is an „at an all-time high“. Mr Moylan concluded: „Then, should a claim be made; it’s unlikely to be rejected.” To read EFCIS‘ news release go to https://icba.com/icba-says-need-for-specialist-broker-expertise-never-been-greater/.
Why trade credit insurance cover is more vital than ever. Insurance Age has published an article in which Tanya Giles, Regional Manager at Atradius, explains why trade credit insurance, which used to be seen as „a tick-box exercise; a policy to perhaps satisfy a reluctant lending bank and typically put in place once the deal had been done and goods were about to be shipped“, is growing in importance as uncertainty over Brexit dominates. She notes that as insolvency levels rise, Atradius has seen a 40% year-on-year rise in the number of claims it receives and stresses that there has never been a more important time to reinforce the relevance of the insurer-broker relationship. To read Insurance Age’s article go to https://www.insuranceage.co.uk/people/3750836/blog-why-trade-credit-cover-is-more-vital-than-ever.
UK fashion retail faces a trade credit insurance clampdown in 2019. Drapers has published an article, ‚Six challenges fashion retail faces in 2019‘, which predicts that one of the main challenges UK retailers will face in 2019 will be a trade credit insurance clampdown. This will be due to Brexit uncertainty, rising costs and subdued customer spend in clothing, „which will undoubtedly lead lacklustre trade to continue into 2019 and with it will come a continued increase in prudence from credit insurers.“ The article also notes that a raft of high-profile retail administrations and company voluntary arrangements in 2018 have already caused trade credit insurers to take a more cautious approach. To read Drapers‚ article go to https://www.drapersonline.com/home/six-challenges-fashion-retail-faces-in-2019/7033612.article.
New research identifies the likely triggers for trade credit insurance purchases. Euler Hermes has announced that its Digital Team in Hong Kong is working with insurtech Digital Fineprint (DFP) to research features and behaviours of existing clients and, among other areas, explore how sentiment scores correlate to customer performance. The resulting data aims to provide new insights into the profiles of Euler Hermes’ customers, identifies likely triggers for future purchases and highlights the potential for Euler Hermes to enhance their prospecting capabilities and distribution performance. Caroline Paulhan, Head of Digital Transformation APAC at Euler Hermes Digital Agency, commented: „That first experiment has already provided us access to invaluable insights.” To read DFP’s news release go to https://digitalfineprint.com/2018/12/euler-hermes-apac-partners-up-with-digital-fineprint/.
A no-deal Brexit risks driving up European insolvencies. Atradius has warned that a disruptive Brexit could cause UK corporate insolvency growth to be 14% higher than in a smooth transition – translating to about 2,300 more companies impacted – with the retail, manufacturing and chemicals sectors sector particularly exposed. While the impact on insolvencies in the EU27 would be much more moderate, those countries with close trade ties to the UK, such as Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark would experience the greatest impact. Atradius estimates that Ireland is particularly vulnerable, with a no-deal Brexit likely to drive insolvencies 4% higher than otherwise. To read Atradius‘ news release go to https://atradius.co.uk/reports/no-deal-brexit-dec2018.html.
The Hartford launches trade credit and political risk insurance products. The Hartford has announced the launch of new credit and political risk insurance products. The Hartford’s new political risk insurance policy is designed to help corporations and private equity firms with global operations protect their investments and assets overseas from various political risks (expropriation, political violence, currency inconvertibility and breach of contract). The Hartford’s new credit insurance policy is designed for financial institutions that are engaged in trade and export finance to help manage their overall global exposure. To read The Hartford’s news release go to https://newsroom.thehartford.com/press-release/commercial-markets/hartford-launches-credit-and-political-risk-insurance-products.
Atradius warns that it can’t cover all risks related to ‚No Deal‘ for the UK food industry. Ready for Brexit has published an article which reports that Atradius has warned that a no-deal Brexit would pose a material threat to the UK food industry. Crucially, Atradius states that already: “Due to the adverse developments, our underwriting stance has become more restrictive for the food industry in general. This accounts especially for the highly import-dependent meat segment, where the weaker exchange rate has added pressure on already thin margins.“ In addition, the article notes that Atradius comments that it is also „rather restrictive“ with the fruit/vegetables segments and „more cautious“ with the dairy segment. To read Ready for Brexit’s article go to https://readyforbrexit.co.uk/atradius-warns-it-cant-cover-all-risks-related-to-no-deal-for-food-industry/.
A trade credit insurance policy can be a vital lifeline for South African companies. Insurance and Actuarial News has published an article, ‚Bridging the gap with trade credit insurance‘, which reports that there are only 4,500 trade credit insurance policyholders in South Africa, despite there being approx 150,000 businesses which could benefit from this type of insurance. Although the article notes that it can’t be determined how many of South Africa’s 159 liquidations in September and 260 insolvencies in August would have benefited from trade credit insurance, the article suggests that there is no doubt that even if a small percentage had been able to protect their cash flow when a customer was unable to pay them, the numbers would be different and jobs could have been saved. To read Insurance and Actuarial News‚ article go to https://www.bizcommunity.com/Article/196/363/184669.html.
2019 will be a turning point for the global construction industry. Euler Hermes has published a news release which notes that after ten years of growth (2008-2018), the global construction industry has reached its peak and 2019 will be a turning point which will see global growth decrease to 3% (from 3.5% in 2018). Euler Hermes also notes that as construction industries around the world have seen their average credit risk deteriorate during the last few years, the industry as a whole is now less prepared for a downturn than it was in 2008. „While growing for the past decade, the construction sector did not “repair the roof while the sun [was] shining” to quote J.F. Kennedy,“ commented Ludovic Subran, Global Head of Macroeconomic Research at Allianz and Chief Economist at Euler Hermes. To read Euler Hermes‘ news release go to https://www.eulerhermes.com/en_global/media-news/news/Could-the-next-global-crisis-come-from-the-construction-sector.html.
Insolvencies in the UK food sector look set to increase. Atradius‘ latest Market Monitor for the UK food sector has reported that Sterling’s depreciation since June 2016’s Brexit decision has increased the costs of commodities and food items for many British food producers and processors reliant on imports (more than 45% of food consumed in the UK is imported). Inflationary cost pressure for imported products has also remained high in 2018. As a consequence, the profit margins of UK food businesses deteriorated further in 2018, a development expected to continue in 2019, while insolvencies, which increased in 2018, look set to remain at a high and increasing level. To read Atradius‘ Market Monitor go to https://group.atradius.com/publications/market-monitor-food-united-kingdom-2018.html.
Market Monitor’s are also available for the following countries: France, Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Mexico, USA, Australia and Poland.
Understanding 2019 Supply Chain Risks in Eastern Europe. Supply Chain Management Review Magazine has published an article in which Atradius‘ Economist, Dana Bodnar, and Arkadiusz Taraszkiewicz, Senior Manager of Central and Eastern European risk services at Atradius discuss supply chain risks in Eastern Europe. They advise that although GDP growth is expected to dip across the board in 2019 (to 1.5%), and Eastern Europe is not immune from this cloudy outlook, for businesses trading within the region this isn’t so much cause for distress as it is a call to keep a close watch on emerging risks. Overall though, the environment is still strongly pro-business in many countries and will likely remain so for some time. To read Supply Chain Management Review Magazine’s article go to http://www.scmr.com/article/understanding_2019_supply_chain_risks_in_eastern_europe.
Southeast Asia is coping well with trade war headwinds. Insurance Business Asia has reported that as the trade war between the US and China continues, Atradius has released a report examining how the standoff has affected the emerging economies of Southeast Asia. The report, titled ‘Southeast Asia: coping well with headwinds’, found that trade across Southeast Asia has already been moderately impacted, with increased risk aversion in international financial markets. However, strong domestic demand and counterbalancing policies are supporting GDP growth, and these economic fundamentals make a financial crisis unlikely. To read Insurance Business‘ article go to https://www.insurancebusinessmag.com/asia/news/breaking-news/southeast-asia-coping-well-with-trade-war-headwinds–atradius-report-119318.aspx.
Tinubu Square to provide its Credit Insurance Suite to Etihad Credit Insurance. Tinubu Square has announced that it is entering into a partnership agreement with Etihad Credit Insurance (ECI), the UAE Federal export credit company, to provide its end-to-end SaaS integrated software solution. Massimo Falcioni, Chief Executive Officer, ECI, said: “We welcome this new partnership agreement that we have entered with Tinubu Square, which will help us in our mandate to support the export and re-export of UAE goods, works, services and foreign investments of UAE companies.” Olivier Placca, Deputy CEO, Tinubu Square, added: “Collaborating with ECI paves the way for us to maintain a stronger presence in the Middle East region and play a key role in the growth of its economies.“ To read Tinubu Square’s news release go to https://www.tinubu.com/to-provide-credit-insurance-suite-to-etihad-credit-insurance/.
Congratulations to . . .
Euler Hermes Asia Pacific for being named ‚Best Credit Insurance Company 2018‘ by the Global Banking & Finance Review.
We are delighted to launch our first Credit Insurance News Quiz of 2019.
Just nine short questions (most answers are given in this issue), with the chance to win a small prize of a £10 Amazon gift card or a donation in your name to the charity of your choice!
The winner will be announced in February’s issue of Credit Insurance News Digest on 13 February.
Click here to take part.
Thank you to all readers who took part in Credit Insurance News‘ Christmas Quiz this year.We are delighted to say that the prize of a £25 Amazon gift card goes to Atradius‘ Joel Williams who correctly answered all 10 questions and was the first faultless submission we received.
Nexus has announced two new appointments to support its Whole Turnover team.
- Darren Newman has joined Nexus as a Risk Underwriter and as a specialist in the construction sector. Darren has been in the industry for over ten years.
- Mark Raffety has joined the Nexus Claims team as Trade Credit Claims Underwriter. Mark has ten years of experience in the industry. With the addition of Mark, the team will now be responsible for all Trade Credit claims across Nexus CIFS and Equinox.
In Nexus’ overseas branches:
- Jordy Groot has joined Nexus‘ Dutch office as a credit analyst for Nexus Trade Credit. With this new appointment, the Dutch team has grown to 4 people. Jordy has more than ten years experience in credit insurance.
- Matthew Ryan joined Nexus Trade Credit US in November 2018 as an underwriter. Matt comes to the group following two years with FCIA Management Company, where he was an underwriter focusing on multi-buyer policies.
Additionally, Mark Rogers has moved from Whole Turnover Risk Underwriting to head up Nexus’ UK & Ireland Bonding and Surety division.
Solunion has announced that it has appointed Alberto Berges as its new CEO. Mr Berges was most recently the CEO of MAPFRE Asistencia, the business unit specialising in global assistance, car protection and lifestyle solutions.
CST Group, specialists in retail and trade credit insurance management in the MENA region, has appointed Saleh Srour as President of the Group. Mr Saleh was most recently Chairman of CST Lebanon, with 20 years of experience within the company.
Euler Hermes has announced the appointment of Paolo Cioni as Country Manager for Italy with effect from 1 January 2019. Mr Cioni’s last role was Group Head of Risk Underwriting at Euler Hermes‘ headquarters in Paris.
Business Information & Reports
One in ten UK companies could be a ‘zombie business’. According to new research from R3, over one in ten (11%) of UK companies are just paying the interest on their debts, rather than repaying the debt itself. R3’s research, based on a survey of 1,200 companies by research firm BVA BDRC, also found that other signs of acute business struggles are relatively widespread. One in six (16%) businesses are having to negotiate payment terms with creditors, one in ten (12%) are struggling to pay their debts when they fall due, and 8% would be unable to repay their debts if interest rates were to increase by a small amount. To read R3’s news release go to https://www.r3.org.uk/index.cfm?page=1114&element=32861&refpage=1113&resultspage=1&type=&year=.
UK economy could fall from fifth to seventh in global rankings in 2019. The UK is set to drop in the rankings of the world’s largest economies, according to new projections from PwC in its latest Global Economy Watch. Both India and France are likely to surpass the UK in 2019, knocking it from fifth to seventh place in the global table. While the UK and France have regularly switched places owing to similar levels of development and roughly equal populations, India’s climb up the rankings is likely to be permanent. PwC projects real GDP growth of 1.6% for the UK, 1.7% for France and 7.6% for India in 2019. US growth is forecast to moderate from an estimated 2.8% in 2018 to around 2.3% in 2019. To read PWC’s news release go to https://www.pwc.co.uk/press-room/press-releases/UK-economy-could-fall-from-fifth-to-seventh-in-global-rankings-in-2019.html.
43% of UK SMEs spend approximately £4.4 billion in admin costs alone chasing late payments. According to new research by Bacs Payment Schemes Limited (Bacs), the UK’s smallest businesses are facing a bill of £6.7 billion, up from £2.6 billion in 2017, with the cost of recovering overdue money now at an average of £9,000 for each business. On top of that, more than a third of SMEs coping with late payments are waiting two months beyond agreed terms to be paid – double the number of businesses who said the same in 2017. Bacs also notes that the delay in receiving settlement has wide-reaching effects, with over a quarter of SME business owners who experience late payments forced to pay their own suppliers late; 28% also say they have had to cut their salaries to keep cash inside their businesses.
The UK and Germany are the only G7 economies to have not experienced a pickup in growth in 2017. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has confirmed that UK GDP is estimated to have increased by 0.6% in Quarter 3 2018, unrevised from the first quarterly estimate of GDP. However, although GDP growth in 2017 has now been revised up from 1.7% to 1.8%, the ONS notes that the UK and Germany are the only G7 economies to have not experienced a pickup in growth in 2017. This is against a backdrop of a strengthening global economy last year. Having been one of the fastest growing G7 economies in 2016, in 2017 the UK experienced GDP growth that was faster than only Italy. To see the ONS‘ latest statistics go to https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/nationalaccounts/uksectoraccounts/articles/quarterlyeconomiccommentary/julytoseptember2018.
Contains Parliamentary information licensed under the Open Parliament Licence v3.0.
Asian economies look set to dominate the World Economy by 2033. The Centre for Economics and Business Research with Global Construction Perspectives has published 2019’s latest World Economic League Table (WELT) which gives a ranking of the world’s developed and emerging economies by GDP. This issue notes that although the US is currently the world’s largest economy, it is forecast to be overtaken by China by 2032 – slightly later than originally forecast. The report also indicates that while in 2003 the world’s five largest economies were the US, Japan and three European countries, by 2033 only one of the top five economies will be European (Germany in fifth place), and the rest will be Asian (China in top position, India third and Japan fourth). The UK is forecast to be in sixth place. To access the WELT go to https://cebr.com/welt-2019/.
2018 sees the first year on year fall in the number of businesses since 2000. According to a House of Commons Briefing Paper, there were 5.7 million private sector businesses in the UK in 2018, down by 27,000 compared to 2017. This is the first year on year fall in the number of businesses since the current series started in 2000. 75% or 4.2 million businesses are in the services industries, 17% are in the construction sector, 10% are in the retail sector and 5% are in the manufacturing sector. There are 8,000 large businesses, with more than 250 employees, accounting for 0.1% of businesses but 40% of employment and 48% of turnover. To see the Briefing Paper go to https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN06152#fullreport.
Contains Parliamentary information licensed under the Open Parliament Licence v3.0.
UK export growth crumbles. According to the latest European Export Index by BDO, UK export growth has collapsed to its lowest point since 2015 amidst economic turmoil across Europe. The findings from the quarterly index show that UK export growth has continued to trend downwards since its peak in Q1 2017 and is now below the point of contraction of 95.0 – at 94.9 in Q4 2018. Meanwhile France – the worst performing major EU economy this quarter – saw its export growth collapse by 4.8 points to 92.8. Taking the economic bloc as a whole, the EU Export Growth index increased by just 0.1 to stand at 99.8 in Q4 2018. To read BDO’s news release go to https://www.bdo.co.uk/en-gb/news/2018/uk-export-growth-crumbles-amidst-chaotic-eu.
The EU is the UK’s largest trading partner. According to a House of Commons Briefing Paper, the EU taken as a whole is the UK’s largest trading partner. In 2017, UK exports to the EU were £274 billion (44% of all UK exports), and UK imports from the EU were £341 billion (53% of all UK imports). Services accounted for 40% of the UK’s exports to the EU in 2017, followed by financial services and other business services (a category which includes legal, accounting, advertising, research and development, architectural, engineering and other professional and technical services). In 2017, these two service categories made up 52% of UK service exports to the EU. Wales, followed by the North East of England has the highest percentage of goods exports going to the EU. To read the paper go to https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-7851#fullreport.
Contains Parliamentary information licensed under the Open Parliament Licence v3.0.
The number of UK companies becoming insolvent during October 2018 was the largest monthly total for almost five years. New research from KPMG has noted that the number of companies currently entering into administration is starting to rise after a prolonged period of benign activity. According to the London Gazette, the number of UK companies becoming insolvent during October 2018 was the largest monthly total for almost five years. In consequence, KPMG’s Restructuring practice has noted five key sectors which it believes will come under significant pressure in 2019: retail, casual dining, small domestic energy suppliers, logistics and automotive. To read KPMG’s news release go to https://home.kpmg/uk/en/home/media/press-releases/2019/01/kpmg-restructuring-highlights-five-sectors-facing-stress-in-2019.html.
Research indicates a 53% increase in UK retail CVAs in 2018 and a seven-fold increase in the number of large retailers choosing CVAs as a restructuring method. According to Deloitte’s latest insolvency figures, the number of retailers entering into administration in 2018 was 125 – compared to 118 in 2017, a marginal increase of 6% However, the number of retailers entering into Company Voluntary Arrangements (CVAs) increased by 52%, from 25 in 2017 to 38 in 2018. Deloitte’s research also shows the number of large multi-site UK retailers (those with more than 10 stores) entering into a CVA last year increased significantly to 13, from just two in 2017. Large multi-site retail administration appointments also increased from 17 the previous year to 26 in 2018. To read Deloitte’s news release go to https://www2.deloitte.com/uk/en/pages/press-releases/articles/retail-administrations-rise-for-the-second-consecutive-year-while-large-retail-cva-experienced-a-seven-fold-increase.html.
UK retail sales darkened in December 2018. UK retail sales volumes fell notably in the year to December 2018, and at the fastest rate since October 2017, according to the latest monthly CBI Distributive Trades Survey. The survey also showed that sales are expected to be flat in the year to January and momentum in the retail sector is likely to remain relatively subdued going forward, as firms continue to grapple with weak household income growth and structural changes posed by digital disruption. Meanwhile, uncertainty around the impact of Brexit may drag on consumer confidence and spending impetus. To read the CBI’s news release go to http://www.cbi.org.uk/news/retail-sales-darken-in-december/.
UK mid-sized businesses are preparing for ‘No Deal’ Brexit. New research from Grant Thornton’s International Business Report finds that the majority of mid-sized businesses in the UK have commenced preparations for the March 2019 departure from the EU, with most factoring in a ‘No Deal’ scenario into their plans. The research shows that only around a fifth (22%) have done no planning, believe they don’t need to plan or are unsure whether they need a plan. This compares with nearly three-quarters (73%) who had done no planning when surveyed six months earlier. To read Grant Thornton’s news release go to https://www.grantthornton.co.uk/en/news-centre/uk-mid-sized-businesses-preparing-for-no-deal-brexit/.
Political uncertainty weighs on UK small firms. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank (CYBG) and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) have all published their latest SME Health Check Index, which shows that UK small business confidence has declined markedly. FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry said: “We’ve not seen political uncertainty weighing on small business confidence like this for many years. Planning ahead has now become impossible for a lot of firms as we simply don’t know what environment we’ll be faced with in little more than 100 days.“ To read the FSB’s news release go to https://www.fsb.org.uk/media-centre/press-releases/political-uncertainty-weighs-on-small-firms-as-parliamentary-brexit-vote-stalls.
Survey finds that the UK economy is „in stasis“. The British Chambers of Commerce’s (BCC) latest quarterly economic survey found that the UK economy ended 2018 stuck in a weak holding pattern, with stagnating levels of growth and business confidence as a result of heightened Brexit uncertainty and other economic pressures. The Survey notes that the percentage of services firms reporting an increase in domestic sales and orders has fallen to a two year low, while price pressures rise further for businesses – particularly manufacturers. Responding to the results, Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “The UK economy is in stasis. While it’s not contracting, it’s not growing robustly either.“ To read the BCC’s news release go to https://www.britishchambers.org.uk/news/2019/01/bcc-quarterly-economic-survey-big-squeeze-on-firms-from-recruitment-prices-and-cash-flow.
Outstanding VAT soars as UK businesses struggle to make payments. New research by Funding Options has found that HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is owed £3 billion in outstanding VAT – a five-year high – for the year up to March 2018. This is a 22% increase on the £2.48 billion of VAT owed by UK businesses in the previous period. Overdue corporation tax bills also rose by 5% to £1.98 billion for the year to March 2018. To read Hilton-Baird’s blog exploring this subject go to https://www.hiltonbairdfinancial.co.uk/outstanding-vat-soars-as-businesses-struggle-to-make-payments/.