A crisis in bad debt
A crisis in bad debt and companies heading into bankruptcy is a concern being felt across a number of industries as we head into an uncertain period.
Data from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission shows companies closing down hit a 2½-year high in July as 717 firms entered into external administration. (Australian Financial Review)
Oncore’s CEO Damian Bridge believes this is caused by ‘the cessation of COVID Government handouts where many businesses were protected against insolvency, the acceleration of tax debt recovery by the ATO, unprecedented rises in cash rates, inflation, and supply chain issues.’
Throw in insolvency laws being reenacted after being relaxed during COVID and a perfect storm looms for many businesses resulting in a major risk for recruiters.
If clients don’t pay or can’t pay invoices, you may incur significant debt that, in the worst cases, cannot be repaid.
When taking on new clients, especially in the current climate, it is imperative to remain vigilant and wary of companies that may be struggling to pay. It’s important to do your due diligence and assess the risks and opportunities in ‘doing business’ with them. Especially if you want to build a long-lasting relationship.
Obtaining a company credit report is advisable and generally easy to do through sites like CreditorWatch or Equifax. A detailed company credit report will provide credit information, including comprehensive demographic, financial and public record information such as the client’s payment habits, trade experiences and any trends over time.
It’s also worth undertaking trade references. Just as you would with a candidate you are placing, you should seek to acquire genuine feedback from other suppliers and partners who have done business with your client, about the client’s track record in payments.
Damian suggests, ‘even googling and searching for anything that might come up with regards to the client in the media’ are simple measures you can take to avoid a bad business deal.
You can then make a more informed decision about taking on this client and build in terms and conditions that work for both of you.
Keeping your eye on the market
The last few years saw many businesses protected from insolvency due to government handouts and protections. Now as these come to an end, it’s predicted to cause more businesses without sound financial standing to topple over. ‘Australia is expected to see sharp increases in business failures, up by 49% and many markets may see an overcorrection due to a significant number of “zombie companies.”
In the current economic environment, no industry is immune to the additional pressures of inflation and supply chain costs and worker shortages, so it’s important to be wary of clients in all industries. “The multiple challenges confronting many businesses… are all conspiring to make it that much tougher to pay invoices.”
Take construction as an example where a dozen major companies have closed down due to a combination of supply chain disruptions, skilled labour shortages, skyrocketing costs of materials and logistics, and extreme weather events.
While the technology industry continues to grow and worker sentiment remains high for the sector locally, on a global scale tech and speculative stocks are still being hammered, especially in companies where they have been forced into mass redundancies.
Given the recent implosion of the tech boom, M&A activity is set to slow as private equity deals pull back on valuations and investments after peaking in 2021.
These all impact on the timeliness of your supplier payments so be sure to double check your terms of business and to ensure new clients are set up with terms that suit you and how you manage your cashflow.
If a client that is usually good with paying suddenly drops the ball, take it as a warning sign and check in so that you can avoid further missed payments and debt chasing.
Support for your business
This is the time for recruiters to check that they have the right measures in place to manage their credit and cash flow.
For recruiters, whether you are invoicing for a permanent placement or managing a recurring payroll for contractors, it’s worthwhile considering invoice financing if you don’t already have it. It ensures your contractors are paid regardless of whether your clients pay their invoices on time.
If you don’t have the time to chase debts, it’s a good idea to outsource this so that an experienced external team can expertly manage the recouping of invoices that need to be paid on your behalf. On top of the time and effort you save, this also leaves you to focus on building your client relationships and growing your business. Oncore offers these services and more and can provide vital support to your business.
In a time when we continue to face economic uncertainty, potential client insolvencies, inflation and rising costs, it’s important to remain vigilant with your own cash flow and payments management. Watch out for warning signs with clients and keep on top of what is happening in the markets you operate in.
If you want to speak to any of the Oncore team, please reach out and we’ll be happy to assist you and your business.