The CEO of the Serbian entity B2 Holding Kapital Kristina Pijović in the interview for the business magazine Diplomacy&Commerce talked about the topic of NPL’s in Serbia, financial sector and implementation of Norwegian debt collection model to the market.
D&C: Why was B2 Kapital interested in Serbia and does the company plan to expand its business here?
— The Serbian office was opened when B2Holding ASA invested in a regional portfolio from Hypo Alpe Adria Bank called Dinara Project portfolio. Since then, the Serbian market has been slowly opening up, and our business expanding. At present, B2 Kapital in Serbia only purchases claims against corporate clients; for the time being, we intend to continue going down this road, at the same time trying to retain the quality of our business operations. However, B2 Kapital has been recording significant corporate growth throughout the CE region, to which our operating company belongs, i.e. in the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro. It is also expected that we in Serbia will continue to follow suit. We are experiencing growth thanks to our continuous search for ways to improve. Through improved collection strategies, analytics, digitization and use of the best practice projects, we aim to further increase operational efficiency and effectiveness going forward.
D&C: What do you offer your clients in Serbia?
— When it comes to clients, we firmly believe in helping them get back on track. The nature of our business includes dealing with a variety of circumstances our clients find themselves in, so we always aspire to show full understanding for their situation and we offer them complete repayment flexibility. We follow a highly ethical and individual approach to each client, whom we, as the new creditor, can never and will never place at a greater disadvantage, as compared to their previous creditor. In doing business, we are more flexible than banks. This means that, together with our client, we can agree on the amount of the installments that the client will be able to execute regularly. Moreover, we do not assign any additional costs to the client’s debt, with the exception of the default legal interest. Those clients who carry out a minimum of one payment per month by the end of the repayment of debt are eligible to apply for a full or a partial write off of the default legal interest. In that case, they will not have to pay anything but the debt that their previous creditor transferred to us. We also offer a delay in bringing legal proceedings and other benefits for the cooperative clients.
D&C: What are the results of the company in the past period?
— We are very pleased with the fact that our results have been showing stability, and constant and stable growth since the beginning of our business operations in Serbia. We do all our business transparently, implementing the best practices of the Group to the Serbian market. Our quality and commitment to the work that we do has been recognized by both our clients and our business partners, which gives us confidence to continue improving our business operations and achieving even better results.
D&C: When do companies need to contact professionals for collecting receivables?
— Companies often do not have enough time, experience or resources to successfully troubleshoot problematic claims without affecting the overall financial stability of the company itself. It is always safer, easier and faster to contact a company that deals with the collection of receivables because it has enough trained and professional resources and sufficient experience in that area. When a company in such circumstances decides to contact us, they have the chance to employ the main benefits of bad placement sales: liquidity insurance and freeing up their resources to focus on their core business and their own business growth and development. By doing this, we directly support our business partners’ stability and growth, at the same time strengthening our clients’ financial security and building business stability in our society.
D&C: About what companies that sell receivables should especially take care?
— Companies that sell receivables need to take steps to make the process transparent, so that all participants are well informed, and that portfolio data and all relevant documentation are of good quality. It is important that the transaction is carried out in a way that is not damaging to the client under any circumstances. The transaction is supposed to put the client in a more favorable position than before, at no additional costs. On the other hand, when acquiring non-performing loans from these companies, we treat their customers with respect and fairness. To safeguard their own reputation, they know that we maintain high ethical standards, privacy principles and routines, and local services. We earn our vendors’ trust through our everyday actions. Over time we have shown that they can rely on us to take care of their customers and to treat them fairly. As a result, we build strong partnerships that benefit all parties.
D&C: Research shows that in Europe half of creditors hire external co-workers for debt collection, while in Serbia it makes only about 8%. What are the reasons for this?
— Engaging an external partner mostly depends on the long-term bank strategy. Banks in Serbia are usually engaging external partners for retail collections i.e. both covering early and late collection stages. Keeping the collection of portfolios in house for collections usually means intensive investments in collection systems and huge workforce. Banks started building their collection teams with the arrival of the financial crisis, meaning that some collection systems are already in place. Maybe the utilization of the existing investments is the reason for keeping the collection operations in house. On the other hand, results of the internal collection could be successfully supported by external support. If the bank wants to improve its NPL ratio, RWA and capital adequacy ratio and profitability, the best way to do it as fast as possible is to engage external support, which is paid on success basis. As regards the non-financial sector, it is still closed for this type of cooperation. Compared to most of Europe, banks in Serbia can sell private individual loans only to other banks and not to companies like ours. One of our major goals is to educate, not only the clients, but also the market about NPLs and the management of claims in order to create the best solution for all parties involved.
Full interview you can find on the link.