Sensée creates technology ecosystem for businesses to easily deploy contact centre workers at home

Homeworking specialist Sensée has launched CloudWorks™, a homeworking solution that gives organisations all the tools necessary to operate a home-based contact centre operation.

CloudWorks provides technology tools to assist with the remote management, training and co-ordination of staff working from home. It also provides communication and collaboration tools to keep remote workers supported and engaged, as well as the safeguards to ensure the most rigorous Infosec compliance. CloudWorks has ISO27001 accreditation and achieved PCI-DSS and GDPR compliance.

The solution, believed to be the only one of its kind, can be deployed remotely and will bring peace-of-mind to organisations for a fraction of the cost of other standard disaster recovery solutions requiring a secondary passive site.

CloudWorks can be deployed in as little as two weeks – even for large Enterprise deployments. Pricing is calculated on a per agent per month basis.

“Homeworking is very much at the forefront of business minds due to the current global Coronavirus crisis” said Steve Mosser, Group CEO of Sensée “with organisations looking for practical solutions that ensure business can continue. For middle management, that may be as simple as ensuring all staff have a reliable computer and phone to work from home. For contact centre operations, doing so with scalability and cost-efficiency is lot more complex. The demands of contact centre operations means that a complete 360 degree solution is required that provides full visibility, control, engagement, and of course information security. CloudWorks delivers all of the above, and more, in a single easily scalable turnkey solution.”

Bank of England MLAR stats – “Strong likelihood arrears will rise as a result of coronavirus” – comment

Mark Pilling, Spicerhaart Corporate Sales managing director, says: “The Q4 arrears figures from the Bank of England are broadly positive, showing another fall on the back of previous quarters.

“There was also a small drop in high LTV mortgages and high loan-to-income (LTI) ratios – although single-income borrowers with an LTI ratio above 4 actually rose slightly, which could be a cause for concern.

“With the coronavirus Covid-19 already beginning to cause real disruption to businesses and people’s livelihoods, it remains important that lenders have a flexible attitude and continue to seek outcomes that are right for customers. There is a strong likelihood that arrears will rise as a result of the virus, and the measures imposed to slow down its spread. Lenders need to be ready for a situation where people are facing real financial difficulties through no fault of their own.”

Debt Recovery Company Director On A Mission!

A world-leading debt recovery company based in Gwynedd is proud to have been selected to attend a recent three-day, multi-sector, trade mission to Dublin in Ireland.

Carl Hackman, Strategic Director of CCI Credit Management Ltd (CCICM), thanked the Welsh Government for organising the mission and inviting him. He says: “It was a real pleasure to attend and network with so many entrepreneurial counterparts from both Wales and the Republic.

“I explained how we can provide world-class credit management advice, debt collection recovery, and lots of ancillary services such as litigation and insolvency, to commercial entities globally – particularly exporting businesses – and consumer companies based in Ireland.”

While in Dublin, Mr Hackman and the delegation attended a market briefing session and a business reception at the British Embassy, and enjoyed meetings with new and existing contacts to discuss potential export opportunities.

Ireland is one of Wales’ most important international trading partners. Thanks to its booming economy, proximity to the UK, similar legal system and familiar business culture, it’s a prime target for many firms seeking new international opportunities.

Mr Hackman adds: “CCICM is a world-leading business in its sector, with many multi-national corporations, Government departments, and SMB/Es as clients. At our head office near Porthmadog, we employ over 70 highly-skilled and specialist staff. We are also the founder and exclusive UK member of International Credit Exchange (ICE) – a unique partnership of collection agencies covering around 140 countries.”

Ireland’s economy continues to expand, according to the Welsh Government. In its autumn 2019 economic forecast, the European Commission predicted the nation’s GDP would grow by 5.6% over the year – up from 4% in its previous forecast, and the highest of any EU member state.

Business groups sound alarm over ‘serious concerns’ with Government’s tax and insolvency plans

UK business groups and insolvency experts are again sounding the alarm about Government plans to prioritise repayments to HMRC over repayments to other creditors in insolvencies from 6 April 2020.

In a joint statement ahead of the Budget on 11 March, the groups are warning the new Chancellor that the Government’s proposals will damage access to finance for businesses, with harmful consequences for the UK economy.

The statement has been made by:

  • R3, the insolvency and restructuring trade body
  • UK Finance
  • The Alternative Credit Council (ACC)
  • The British Property Federation (BPF)
  • The British Private Equity & Venture Capital Association (BVCA)
  • The City of London Law Society (CLLS)
  • The Chartered Institute of Credit Management (CICM)
  • The Insolvency Practitioners Association (IPA)
  • The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)
  • The Institute of Chartered Accountants Scotland (ICAS)
  • Professor Peter Walton of the University of Wolverhampton.

The groups say that: “The Government’s plans to grant some tax debts ‘preferential status’ in insolvencies remain a serious concern, and the upcoming Budget is the Chancellor’s last opportunity to avert an avoidable error.

“Without mitigation or a reversal of its policy, the Government will inadvertently damage access to finance for UK businesses. This will be bad news for both business rescue and business growth at a time when the UK economy needs support.

“The policy may increase the knock-on effects of insolvencies on supply chains, customers, consumers, and pensions. Ultimately, the policy could lead to a small, short-term gain for HMRC at the expense of long-term damage to the economy. The Government must change course.”

Business groups previously wrote to then-Chancellor Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP in September 2019 as part of a consultation on the draft Finance Bill and ahead of a planned December 2019 Budget.

In a joint letter, the groups said the Government’s plans would be: “Likely to undermine confidence in trading, lending, and investing in the UK economy. [The plans] will also not help make the UK a good place to do business. And, with the UK preparing to leave the EU, and with businesses already facing a number of economic challenges, the timing of this move is particularly unhelpful.”

The Government is proposing that, from 6 April 2020, certain tax debts owed by an insolvent company – including VAT, PAYE, and employee NICs – will be repaid to HMRC in priority to debts secured against ‘floating charge’ assets.

This will significantly impact on finance secured against assets such as raw materials, stock, work in progress, intellectual property and other floating charge assets which are important security for many businesses involved in manufacturing, wholesale and retail, as well as some high-tech firms.

The proposed measure will also impact on unsecured creditors, including a company’s pension scheme and its suppliers.

Currently, HMRC is repaid alongside other unsecured creditors. The change was announced, with no prior consultation, at the 2018 Budget. HMRC debts had held preferential status until this was scrapped by the Enterprise Act 2002 in a move to encourage business rescue.

Opponents of the changes have warned that the extra money which will go back to HMRC will come at the expense of payments to other creditors. This will make lending, particularly to struggling businesses, a riskier proposition. It will reduce the amount of money which reaches businesses, consumers and pension schemes after companies become insolvent.

The way the policy has been structured will also add to business costs. Before the Enterprise Act 2002, there was a six- or 12-month cap on the age of tax debts eligible for preferential status, making it easier for lenders and others to assess the size of a potential HMRC claim; the cap also made it easier for insolvency practitioners to assess HMRC claims once they were appointed as an office holder. With no cap included in the new policy, businesses, lenders and insolvency practitioners face wading through years of historic trading accounts to check for HMRC liabilities.

Duncan Swift, President of insolvency and restructuring trade body R3, says: “We understand the Government’s motivation for the change, but it’s missing the bigger picture and potentially setting a course that will do more harm than good.

“If the Government really wanted to improve HMRC returns from insolvencies, there are lots of ways to do so without damaging other creditors. Proactive, consistent and commercially-minded engagement from HMRC in insolvency and restructuring situations would be better for everyone.”

A giant green initiative: Revive Management plants giant seqoias

Revive Management, the provider of digital billing and payment solutions, is embarking on an ambitious scheme to plant a collection of the world’s largest trees, in a bid to go carbon negative and raise climate change awareness.

A single Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) can capture more CO2 than the average UK citizen’s entire lifetime emissions. Revive Management has joined the One Life One Tree: The Sequoia Project, which plants these enormous trees in their own 1,000 square foot plots at select UK locations, each alongside a native oak tree to maintain UK biodiversity.

Over the next six months, Revive will fund the planting of an initial 10 trees, each of which it is hoped will grow to a size of 500m3. – roughly the equivalent of an average UK citizen’s lifetime emissions. An entire Sequoia Grove can capture as much as 10 times more CO2 per acre than a natural UK woodland over 100 years, increasing over time as the trees continue to grow for over one thousand years.

This is the beginning of a long-term partnership, through which Revive hopes to plant a new tree for every new starter.

The initiative follows a bumper 2019 for Revive, with double-digit new client wins and a powerful track record of helping clients dramatically reduce their payment collections costs. The company is now seeking to take a more proactive approach to reduce its environmental impact on an ongoing basis.

Geoff Boudin, Sales Director at Revive, said: “It’s really important for us, and any business, to reduce our carbon impact wherever possible. Indeed, by streamlining and digitising our clients’ payment processes we can play a part in helping to reduce their environmental impact by eliminating paper-based methods. We do a lot of work in the energy sector and given that those businesses are always working on innovative ways to go greener, we want to be proactive in our approach too.

He added: “This is why The One Life One Tree programme stood out for us – it is such a simple idea with a potentially huge impact; these trees are truly extraordinary, and we’re pleased to play a role in planting them here in the UK. What’s more, the seedlings should ultimately become incredibly awe-inspiring trees to look at!”

Henry Emson, Founder of One Life One Tree Limited, added: “We celebrate every Sequoia tree we plant and every Sequoia Patron, such as Revive, that helps make it happen. A single tree can capture over 500 tonnes of carbon dioxide, so by funding the planting of 10 or more trees, Revive will contribute to the capture of thousands of tonnes of carbon, whilst also helping to protect a UICN Red List endangered species and create valuable new forest habitats in different pockets of the UK.”

Yvette Gray appointed as new Country Director for Atradius Collections

International debt collection specialist Atradius Collections has appointed a new Country Director for the UK and Ireland.

Yvette Gray has taken the helm at Atradius Collections – a business she helped bring to the UK 13 years ago.

Atradius Collections is a world leader in commercial debt collection with experts across the globe who understand local cultures, processes and laws to recover unpaid debt.

With industry experience built up over nearly three decades, Ms Gray has been trade credit insurer Atradius since 1999. Building her specialist skills in roles spanning risk services including claims and risk management, she joined Atradius’ SRM team, a specialist unit servicing insolvent and high-risk businesses. In 2007, she moved across to Atradius Collections and was part of the project team instrumental in setting up the business in the UK and Ireland. During 13 years with Atradius Collections, Ms Gray has held senior posts in managing customer relationships and establishing the UK business before expanding to an international remit in her most recent role as global programme manager.

Commenting on her new appointment, Ms Gray said: “My focus for Atradius Collections is on continuous improvement; always striving to deliver the best results with best-in-class customer service. As international operators, we can make the difference to a company’s viability. Bad debt can easily cripple a business and our customers rely on our ability to recover debt from unpaid invoices across the globe both efficiently and effectively.

“For me, Atradius Collections has a real family feel to it and is a great place to work. There is an immense amount of talent here with people striving to make a difference and who care about what they are doing. My aim is to cultivate this energy and provide a platform for positive change as we evolve the business for the future.”

New report warns of te use of non-financial behaviours in credit risk assessment

Non-financial behaviours such as social media use and transactional behaviour may be used in future credit risk assessment with implications for access to consumer finance, according to a report released today by Registry Trust.

‘Futures of Credit Risk Assessment in the UK’ , written by Senior Lecturer Joe Deville of Lancaster University and published by Registry Trust, a non-profit organisation, examines developments in the way credit risk is assessed in the UK and draws on emerging international practices to explore what this might mean for consumers.

Deville reports that established methods such as analysing monetary judgment data will still to be central to credit lending decisions. Credit risk specialists interviewed for the report, including UK banking and credit referencing agency (CRA) representatives, are so far cautious about the potential use of internet and device data as a method of risk assessment. However, there is evidence of credit risk specialists expanding and diversifying the methods they use to assess credit risk and increased use of ‘big data’ credit scoring.

There may be possible benefits to borrowers from more holistic assessment of their financial status, but the emerging practices raise difficult questions about: the ethical use of some new data types; the criteria to be used to establish whether particular data are appropriate for assessing future financial behaviours and creditworthiness; who should be responsible for establishing these criteria; and issues of fairness.

Speaking on behalf of Registry Trust, Mick McAteer, Chairman said: “Expectations have been raised that greater use of ‘big data’ and new forms of risk assessment could transform how credit risk is assessed. So far, there has been little impact on consumers. But, the use of these emerging methods could become more widespread with potentially negative consequences for consumers. It is critical that regulators, consumer groups, and the industry pre-empt this and develop a robust ethical framework to protect consumers’.

Chartsbridge selects Civica

Chartsbridge has selected Civica, a global leader in software for public services, to deliver an enterprise cloud solution for collections.

Harnessing the capabilities of the cloud, the platform comprises of five multi-channel integrated modules that together power the entire FCA-regulated collections and recovery process. This will provide Chartsbridge with improved visibility and control across regulated collections, recoveries and enforcement activities.

Considerable client efficiency benefits can be derived through the flexible data integration capabilities through real-time APIs, meaning seamless and automated transfer of cases and data in both directions.

Evidence-based transparency

With evidence-based transparency being critical to the Chartsbridge operation, real-time activity analysis utilises GPS tracking to provide new levels of accountability to the regulated field collections sector. Simplified visit prioritisation and auto-scheduling improve operational efficiency whilst creating an evidence-based field activity audit trail.

The capabilities of the solution enable high volumes of cases to be processed effectively whilst maximising collection rates.

Using data driven intelligence and client-specific workflow schemes, Chartsbridge is able to harness workflow engines to facilitate case management optimisation.

The outcomes

  • Evidence-based compliance
  • Real-time APIs for automated data transfer
  • Real time interactions across platform users
  • Optimised workforce productivity
  • Multi-channel, self-service customer portal
  • Channel shift driving increased customer contact rates
  • Digital customer and client experiences
  • More effective communication
  • Proactive data analytics

John Ingram, founder of Chartsbridge, commented: “We have worked closely with Civica to build a first-to-market innovative solution which the company has developed through years of experience within the wider judicial services industry, but now deployed into the regulated collections sector for the first time.

“Working with Civica has enabled us to bring cloud technology solutions into our market, delivering unprecedented transparency and evidence to drive higher industry standards.”

Axminster Carpets Limited (“the Company”) rescued

Axminster Carpets Limited, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of carpet, which was forced to enter Administration in February 2020, has been sold as a going concern to a group of UK private investors including the Dutfield family.

Benjamin Wiles and Geoff Bouchier, both of Duff & Phelps, were appointed Joint Administrators of Axminster Carpets Limited (“the Company”) on 19 February 2020. On appointment the Joint Administrators sold the underlay division of the Company, Axfelt, to Ulster Carpets and secured the sale of the Axminster Carpet Shop to Wilton Flooring shortly after.

The business, holder of a Royal Warrant, which was founded in 1755, specialises in the manufacture of woven carpets using traditional techniques and natural materials. The historic carpeting business has supplied many familiar names and businesses over decades, including Buckingham Palace.

Benjamin Wiles states: “We are absolutely delighted to be able to announce today that we have secured the future of Axminster Carpets, one of the best-known British brands, following the successful sale of the business and assets of the Company to ACL Carpets Limited.”

It is expected that the purchasing entity will change its name to Axminster Carpets in the very near future.

The Company is backed by a group of UK private investors, industry leaders and the Dutfield family and will continue to operate from its head office and manufacturing facility in Axminster.

“The swift conclusion of this process has enabled Duff & Phelps to secure the future of the business. This deal will provide a stable financial platform, ensuring its long-term viability,” concluded Benjamin Wiles.

SFP completes sale of Paramount Power and Data Limited and secures all jobs

Nationwide insolvency practitioner SFP has successfully completed the sale of Durham-based data network and security installers, Paramount Power and Data Limited, after the company was placed into administration. All seven employees’ positions will be safeguarded as a result of the sale.

Established in 2011, Paramount Power and Data Limited, designed and installed intelligent data networks and security systems, as well as providing system support to commercial clients across the UK.

In April 2019, the company began using invoice finance to assist with its cashflow but several bad debts throughout 2019 and the start of 2020 contributed to significant financial difficulties and ultimately led to the appointment of SFP’s Simon Plant and Richard Hunt on 30th January 2020 as administrators.

SFP subsequently, achieved a sale of the business and assets to Paramount Technical Solutions Limited, which has seen the futures of its employees preserved.

Simon Plant said: “Pressure on cashflow is a challenge to many small businesses, and while Paramount Power and Data Limited took appropriate steps through invoice finance, in the end it wasn’t enough. By calling in the administrators early, we were able to review the business and sell it as a going concern, thus preserving jobs.”