Aryza Group signs definitive agreement to acquire Collenda

Aryza Holdings Limited (Aryza) has today announced it is accelerating its European roll-out through the acquisition of Collenda, a leading DACH and Benelux credit management software provider.

Collenda provides an end-to-end integrated credit lifecycle platform for banks, corporates, and debt collection agencies. It covers the entire credit value chain from origination and servicing to collection and recovery. The Collenda team are currently working with some of the leading financial organisations across Europe.

This acquisition builds Aryza’s European presence following recent activity in North America, Australia, and Asia, and builds its product footprint in lending and corporate verticals. Completion of the transaction is subject to applicable regulatory clearances.

Commenting on the acquisition, Colin Brown, CEO Aryza, said: “We are delighted to welcome Collenda into the Aryza Group. The two businesses are highly complementary with both companies, our clients and colleagues set to benefit from an enhanced product suite with cutting edge technologies including open banking based automation.  The acquisition will enable Aryza, to deliver broader, more highly valued service to customers as well as unlocking significant international new business opportunities. Collenda’s solutions will help our customers manage all steps of the impairment process, and Collenda’s customers will benefit from Aryza’s wide suite of automation tools.”

Hartmut Wagner, CEO, Collenda added: “We are very excited to take the next step of our journey by joining the Aryza Group. The deal accelerates our vision to build the strongest thought leader and best solution provider in the Credit Lifecycle Management market in Europe. We see great potential to offer more solutions and products to both our existing customers and partners but also to new ones in international markets.”

Peter Wallwork FCICM appointed Non-Executive Director at Arvato Financial Solutions in the UK

Arvato Financial Solutions are delighted to announce the appointment of Peter Wallwork FCICM as Non-Executive Director.

Over the last twenty years, Peter has built a reputation for managing complex external messaging and stakeholder relationships, positioning innovative solutions into often misunderstood, highly-regulated customer-facing markets.

During ten years as CEO of the only national trade body for the debt collection, debt sale and purchase industry in the UK, Peter led a team that changed for good, the face and perception of the debt collection industry in the UK. He led the transformation of the trade body’s organisational and Board structure and now shares the skills and experience learned in change management and application of proportionate governance, with other not-for profit, membership and commercial Boards.

He currently also advises on strategy, governance and external messaging for a new venture, aiming to tackle the issues raised in the Woollard Review for the FCA, improving the way insolvency and debt solutions work for all stakeholders.

Commenting on the appointment, Peter said “I am delighted to be joining an exceptional Team at Arvato Financial Solutions and at such an exciting period of the Company’s growth”.

His appointment is with immediate effect.

Company insolvencies increase as tough year ahead forecast

Insolvency figures released for December 2021* by the Government’s Insolvency Service showed a 20% increase in corporate insolvencies compared to the same month last year (1486 in December 2021 and 1237 in December 2020). They were also 33% higher than the number registered two years previously (pre-pandemic; 1120 in December 2019).

In December 2021 there were 1,365 Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidations (CVLs), which is 37% higher than in December 2020, and 73% higher than in December 2019. Other types of company insolvencies, such as compulsory liquidations, remained lower than before the pandemic.

Challenging 2022 ahead as corporate insolvencies forecast to rise

Leading restructuring and insolvency professional, Oliver Collinge from PKF GM said: “The continuing increase in corporate insolvency numbers is not surprising. December was a tough end to the year for many firms with the increasing numbers of cases due to the Omnicron variant and ‘Plan B’ hitting footfall and sales in the normally lucrative pre-Christmas period.

“Many distressed businesses have managed to keep afloat by making use of the high level of government support available. However, as businesses have now started to repay BBLS and CBILS loans as well as deferred HMRC liabilities, pressure on cash is growing and we may continue to see the overall number of business failures increase. Higher inflation, staff shortages, increasing energy prices, supply chain challenges and the need to repay Covid incurred debt, are all likely to lead to increased numbers of insolvencies during 2022.”

“These challenges will put multiple added pressures on businesses in the coming months, particularly those that weren’t in robust financial health before Covid, so it’s critical businesses act early and seek advice if they are struggling now, or think cash flow may be squeezed in coming months. The earlier they act, the more options they’ll have to continue trading and recover.”

“The biggest increase is in Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidations, where directors have chosen to place their business into an insolvency process. In part this may be because creditors can now take enforcement action, forcing directors to take pre-emptive action.

A message to company directors

Oliver Collinge added: “There are plenty of proactive things you can do now to build resilience into your business for the post-Covid economy; don’t leave it too late. Having a restructuring professional guide you through the process can be invaluable in getting the best outcome and will also help you understand and mitigate your risk as a director.”

“For those businesses that are struggling, now may be the time to begin negotiations with landlords and creditors to develop manageable repayment plans. Will revenues be high enough to support your cost base? Will cash flows be sufficient to deal with the additional debt burden (both formal and informal) that has accrued during lockdown? Perhaps a CVA is something which should be considered or, where you may need to take the difficult decision to make redundancies to survive, consider applying for government funding to meet the short term cash impact of this.”

December insolvencies:

  • Of the 1,486 registered company insolvencies in December 2021:
  • There were 1,365 CVLs, which is 37% higher than in December 2020 and 73% higher than in December 2019;
  • 42 were compulsory liquidations, which is 2% lower than December 2020, and 75% lower than December 2019;
  • Seven were CVAs, which is 84% lower than December 2020 and 67% lower than December 2019;
  • There were 72 administrations, which is 52% lower than December 2020, and 49% lower than December 2019; and
  • There were no receivership appointments.

FCA’s Forthcoming Consumer Duty

With a press release titled; ‘FCA to introduce new Consumer Duty to drive a fundamental shift in industry mindset’issued on December 7th, the Financial Conduct Authority made it very clear that it is expecting significant change to ensure financial credit markets work well for borrowers as it gears up for the introduction of the new Consumer Duty.

With the FCA noting that; ‘We would generally expect firms with a direct relationship with the end user to have greatest responsibility under the Consumer Duty;‘ dealers need to be thinking about how well their existing model embraces the outcomes sought by the FCA. These are the governance of products and services, price and value, consumer understanding and consumer support.

Over almost 200 pages, the FCA plan, which is subject to consultation until February 15th 2022, outlines the background of its expectations and draft handbook guidance for new rules, which are expected to be finalised by the end of July 2022.

For dealers, their board or equivalent management body will be responsible for assessing whether it places consumers’ interests at the heart of their activities to deliver the type of good customer outcomes the regulator expects of firms to be consistent with the Consumer Duty.

Having led the market in developing its distinctive risk-based pricing model MotoRate to embrace the ban on discretionary commission, MotoNovo Finance MD Karl Werner is keen to initiate dialogues with dealers about the impact of this model in delivering good customer outcomes, noting;

“I continue to believe wholeheartedly that embracing regulation is a good thing for dealers when it comes to finance. The call to action from the FCA is to ensure that the dealer finance experience, products, and pricing place each customer’s interests at the heart their business. This thinking, outlined in previous FCA work, was why we pursued the development of our risk-based pricing model and its tailored approach. 

I welcome the opportunities to discuss our learnings from this innovation with dealers; suffice to say, it is improving dealers’ finance penetration, and the feedback from consumers continues to be exceptionally good. Adopting risk-based pricing does require some different thinking by dealers and I believe that is what the regulator’s press release suggests they are looking for.”

Arum has been appointed on to CCS’s Debt Resolution Services framework

Arum has been named as a supplier on Crown Commercial Service’s (CCS) Debt Resolution Services (DRS) framework to provide to provide Fraud, Error and Debt (FED) Advisory services to Central Government and the wider public sector.

CCS supports the public sector to achieve maximum commercial value when procuring common goods and services. In 2020/21, CCS helped the public sector to achieve commercial benefits equal to £2.04 billion – supporting world-class public services that offer best value for taxpayers.

The landmark DRS framework will provide access to the best solutions and suppliers from the private sector, ensuring fair outcomes for consumers and departments alike, and driving strong social value. DRS will run for four years from December 2021 and replaces the Debt Management Services (DMS) and Debt Market Integrator (DMI) frameworks.

Arum has been helping organisations prevent and resolve problem debt for over 23 years. Its experts are trusted by leading brands to provide independent advice and practitioner support around credit, collections and recoveries in over 20 countries across public sector, financial services, utilities, and telcos.

Arum’s Managing Director, Carlos Osorio, commented: “We are delighted to be named as a supplier on CCS’ Debt Resolution Services framework. This demonstrates that we have met the high-quality threshold set by DRS and will give our public sector clients the confidence that we provide value for money and services that achieve fair outcomes. We’ve helped many Central Government departments and Local Authorities transform their collections functions over the past two decades and we look forward to working with many more.”

R3 responds to December insolvency statistics

Corporate insolvencies fell by 11.4% in December 2021 to a total of 1,486 compared to November’s total of 1,678, and increased by 20.1% compared to December 2020’s figure of 1,237 and rose by 32.7% compared to December 2019 (1,120).

Personal insolvencies fell by 10.1% to 8,434 in December 2021 compared to 9,385 in November 2021, and were 12.4% lower than December 2020’s figure of 9,625.

Christina Fitzgerald, Vice President of insolvency and restructuring trade body R3, responds to today’s publication of the December 2021 corporate and individual insolvency statistics for England and Wales: “The monthly fall in corporate insolvencies has been driven by a reduction in all forms of corporate insolvency process. However, the annual and two-yearly increase in corporate insolvencies has been driven by a rise in Creditors Voluntary Liquidations, which suggests that the economic situation is pushing many company directors to voluntarily close their businesses before that decision is made for them.

“Despite the month-on-month fall in corporate insolvencies, December marked a tough end to a torrid year for many businesses. Increasing COVID cases, rising costs and falling consumer confidence hit footfall and sales, and company directors and management teams also had to work in the midst of new COVID restrictions, which will have affected day-to-day operation, customer behaviour and revenue levels.

“This is especially true in sectors like retail and hospitality, who normally have their busiest periods in December, but faced an unhappy Christmas this year.

“With the latest COVID restrictions set to last until the end of this month, business owners need to remain alert, and if the measures lead to their business becoming financially distressed, they need to seek advice as soon as this happens.

“Most insolvency practitioners will offer a free hour’s consultation to potential clients, so they can understand more about their business, its circumstances and outline what options might be open to it.

“Turning to the personal insolvency figures, the monthly reduction has been driven by reduction in all forms of personal insolvency process, while the annual fall can be attributed to a drop in bankruptcies and Individual Voluntary Arrangements.

“Despite this, times are still tough for people in England and Wales. Many are worried about the future of the economy and their own personal finances, and are cautious about how they spend their money and what they spend it on.

“Inflation is also becoming a problem, with rising energy bills and increasing household costs squeezing people’s finances. We’re also seeing growth in demand for unsecured credit as people turn to credit cards and overdrafts to pay for Christmas or to help manage their finances.

“On the plus side employment is rising, but it remains to be seen whether wages will as well, as the economic effects of COVID continue to hit businesses.

“Our advice for anyone who is worried about their finances is simple: seek advice now. The earlier you do so, the more options you have available, and the more time you have to make a considered decision about which of the potential next steps is right for you.”

Adrian Jones joins ABBYY as Chief Revenue Officer to drive aggressive growth strategy in Intelligent Process Automation market

Intelligent automation and IT sales veteran, Adrian Jones, joins ABBYY as its newly appointed Chief Revenue Officer (CRO). Jones has led large global sales teams at several market-leading organisations, including Automation Anywhere, Symantec, Oracle, and Hewlett Packard. At ABBYY, Jones will spearhead the company’s global go-to-market strategy with the goal of continuing aggressive revenue growth with an emphasis on the intelligent process automation (IPA) market, which IDC estimates is $17.3 billion in its latest report, Worldwide Intelligent Process Automation Market Shares, 2020: Solid Growth Across Cloud Segments.

“Adrian joining our executive team marks a significant milestone for ABBYY in our mission to solve enterprises’ biggest challenges gaining value from their content and business processes,” commented Ulf Persson, Chief Executive Officer at ABBYY. “Adrian’s experience holding senior leadership positions at some of the world’s largest companies across multiple continents and impeccable track record of executing revenue-driving tactics will directly result in our digital intelligence solutions getting to market faster.”

“It is an honor to join ABBYY and its outstanding leadership team in this exciting stage of their growth strategy,” commented Jones. “Having been in the intelligent automation industry for several years, ABBYY has always been on my radar. However, now fully understanding the depth and power of its next-generation cloud and no-code solutions, I appreciate how ABBYY differentiates in the market and how its solutions are a critical enabler for truly intelligent automation. I look forward to working with the team, growing the company across all regions, and helping our customers solve some of their most challenging business automation challenges.”

Jones currently serves as a Senior Advisor for private equity firm Warburg Pincus and is the Chairman of an international sports management agency. He graduated from Oxford College as an engineer and will be based out of ABBYY’s Singapore office.

Marston Holdings Acquires Vortex IoT Limited To Enhance End-To-End Air Quality And Decarbonisation Offering

Marston Holdings, the UK’s leading provider of integrated, technology-enabled transport solutions, has announced its acquisition of Vortex IoT Limited, supplier of environmental sensors, networks and data solutions that support improved air quality and decarbonisation initiatives.

Marston supports government, utilities and private sector clients through the delivery of market leading integrated technology-enabled solutions from design through to implementation, management and recovery. Marston’s clients include local authorities seeking to build environmental schemes that reduce congestion and pollution.  With the acquisition of Vortex, Marston will strengthen its offering by delivering complementary air quality and acoustic monitoring solutions that maximise awareness, identify pollution hotspots and improve public health.

Air quality monitors and associated data and analytics are required to assess the success of policy in meeting clean air targets and Marston is excited to extend its technology offering to include these important and timely solutions.  The acquisition of Vortex follows the 2019 acquisitions of Videalert, a supplier of intelligent traffic management solutions; ParkTrade, a Swedish-based European tolling paymentsand collections business; and LogicValley, an Indian-based AI-focused developer.  Vortex’s products further bolster Marston’s transportation technology division, ensuring Marston is best placed to meet the evolving needs of its client base.

Steve Callaghan, Chair of Marston Holdings, commented: “Marston Holdings has been on a journey of enhancing technological capabilityand I’m delighted that Vortex IoT’s innovative solutions now form part of our end-to-end offering delivering cleaner, greener streets.”

“We have a long track record of successfully working in partnership with the public sector, and this acquisition reflects client feedback seeking innovative, technology-enabled solutions,” added Mark Hoskin, Chief Commercial Officer at Marston Holdings.  “COP26 demonstrated public support for driving the transition to a zero-carbon economy, and we are pleased to further enhance our ability to support our clients and their residents through cleaner, healthier and more people-friendly communities.”

Adrian Sutton, CEO of Vortex IoT, commented:  “Joining Marston Holdings accelerates Vortex IoT’s ability to deliver social value and environmental change for clients, and we are delighted to collectively build on the existing relationships we have established as trusted partners to our clients.”

Rise in CCJs issued against consumers in England & Wales prompts call to action to protect financially vulnerable households in 2022

The number of County Court Judgments (CCJs) issued against consumers in England and Wales in 2021 rose by more than one third compared to 2020, according to figures released today (17 January 2022) by Registry Trust; the not-for-profit organisation which maintains the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines.

CCJs are issued to consumers in England & Wales who have not repaid a monetary debt and the creditor has taken court action. More than four million consumers, have a judgment registered against them – one in 13 of the adult population.

848,124 CCJs were registered against consumers in 2021, up by 36% from 625,901 in 2020, and their total value rose by nearly one-quarter (24%), from £1.1 billion in 2020 to £1.4 billion in 2021. The average value of consumer CCJs fell by 8%, from £1,811 to £1,658.

The proportion of CCJs ‘satisfied’ by consumers (paid in full with proof of payment provided to the court) remains worryingly low, at around 16%, with the number of satisfactions down 1% from 2020.

In the High Court, the number of judgments against consumers fell by 36%, from 262 to 167. However, the total value saw a large rise of 34%, from £111 million to £149 million. This more than doubled the average value from £424,694 to £891,603. Due to the small number of judgments registered by the High Court, the numbers are subject to large fluctuations and the impact of a small number of very large judgments.

Registry Trust Chair, Mick McAteer, said: “The position of financially vulnerable households at the beginning of 2022 looks bad – and the current data does not yet factor in the effects of the looming cost of living crisis, the impact of the Christmas period, or the potential ongoing effects of Covid-19.

“Consumer CCJs have still not reached pre-pandemic peaks when annual numbers regularly topped one million. But, there is no room for complacency. The sharp increase following the large fall in 2020 shows a worrying pattern similar to that seen after the 2008 financial crisis. This, along with the low satisfaction rate, could seriously undermine efforts to repair household finances and build financial resilience against future shocks.”

In response to these latest figures and other data on the state of household finances and the consumer credit market, Registry Trust has published a new report entitled: ‘What does 2022 hold for financially vulnerable households in the UK?’. The report calls on government, policymakers, regulators, the financial sector, and civil society organisations to collaborate to protect financially vulnerable households from further financial harm, help them repair their finances, and promote financial resilience against future financial shocks.

It also makes some key recommendations for changes to the CCJ process including requiring creditors to notify the courts when a CCJ debt has been repaid as part of their treating customers fairly obligations, and publishing data on partial settlements. Additionally, it calls for better use of Registry Trust’s analysis and other data to more effectively target interventions for the financially vulnerable.

Late payments increase as Scottish business optimism plunges

A third of Scottish business owners say that late payment increased in the last three months of 2021, according to new research from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

FSB is warning that this trend could lead to more firms closing their doors for good, as it releases the latest findings from its quarterly Scottish Small Business Confidence Index (SBI). Around one in ten Scottish firms (12%) say late payment is now threatening the viability of their business.

In the final quarter of 2021, FSB’s confidence index for Scotland dropped to -22.0 points from +1.2 points in the previous three months. That means that more Scottish small firms now expect their performance to worsen over the coming three months than expect an improvement.

By comparison, the UK index fell to -8.5 points at the end of last year, meaning that a typical Scottish business is less confident about the future than the UK average. The UK figure fell in every quarter over 2021, having stood at +27.3 points in Q1.

Across the UK, FSB found business confidence to be lowest in the retail and accommodation and food industries. Further, the vast majority of Scottish small businesses (82.5%) say costs are rising, with fuel, utilities and other input costs all cited by firms.

Andrew McRae, FSB’s policy chair for Scotland, said “Scottish firms are being squeezed by rising overheads, ongoing public health restrictions, and servicing mounting debts. To top it off, firms have to contend with the UK’s chronic late payment culture that’s deteriorated over the course of the pandemic.

“Thousands of Scottish businesses needlessly go under every year because of late payment. That’s why every UK big business should have a non-executive director on its board with direct responsibility for payment culture. That’s also why FSB backs moves to beef up the powers of the Small Business Commissioner to take on the worst offenders.”

FSB’s research is based on a survey conducted between 2 and 13 December. On 10 December the First Minister urged workers to cancel Christmas parties, and outlined plans to renew covid restrictions. Tomorrow the Scottish Government will give another covid rule update.

The latest government statistics show that there are an estimated 338,000 small businesses in Scotland – a figure which fell by nearly 20,000 in the first year of the pandemic alone.

Andrew McRae said: “The number of local and independent businesses operating in Scotland has fallen substantially since the pandemic began. Our research shows that the firms remaining are deeply worried about the future.

“The prospect of new public health restrictions at the end of last year not only snuffed out the optimism of many Scottish independent retail, hospitality and tourism businesses but also hurt their supply chains.

“As the Scottish Government looks to the future, Ministers must focus on local economies as well as public services. The economic impact of the virus and the associated restrictions has taken a disproportionate toll on our small business community. Getting local and independent firms firing on all cylinders this year must be a key priority.”