Every dynamic organization has a leader whose vision greatly inspires its people, customers, and associates far beyond expectations. Neil Wood, the founder and chairman of the Global Credit Solutions Group, is one of those unique individuals whose tireless efforts have built a highly effective international debt collection organization. This interview is a must read for any international company that needs to strengthen its global credit risk management procedures and systems.
Steve: Tell me, what was the impetus or motivation for establishing a global credit and collection organization? And why a partnership and not just membership?
Neil: It was 1977 and I believed that globalization meant we needed to offer at the very least a regional service, because Australia was already an exporter to the Asia Pacific region and as it turned out was destined to become on the major economies of the region. What we now know as NAFTA, Europe Union, AFTA and MERCOSUR (the various free trade associations) were only starting to be formed but it seemed to me that if I could offer credit and risk management services regional then globally, we would be in strong position to expand our client base and revenue.
Steve: With partners in over 80 countries, which areas have the most prevalent partners and where are you looking to increase the number of partners.
Neil: The majority of partners are located in Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East & Gulf and North America, although Africa in the past year has become an exciting continent for GC with partners now located in South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana, and we have a presence in Mali enabling us to service the former French colonies of the Ivory Cost etc. We are also focusing on the development now in Central and South America and have partners in Guatemala, Panama, Venezuela and Brazil and are in negotiations with potential partners in other parts of Latin America.
Steve: How did the 2008 ~ 2009 global economic meltdown impact the GCS Group?
Neil: Like most companies we were affected however whilst certain partners suffered adversely in their collection portfolios ( if the debtor is unemployed or in bankruptcy it’s bad for the collection industry as well because the old adage applies “ if they haven’t got it they can’t pay “), however what we have continued to see emerge in markets and economies that have really had substantial downturns due to the GFC, is that companies become more focused on managing and mitigating their risks, and so the demand for credit reports, due diligence and background investigations has grown far faster than what had been forecast. I would estimate our growth has slowed from our forecasted 20% + to around 15%, however we can see signs of improvement particularly in the demand for our risk management services.
Steve: What kinds of claims are submitted to the GCS Group partners?
Neil: This can and does vary dependent on the partner’s business model, however almost all partners work across both consumer and commercial accounts GCS Head Office as well as zseveral Regional Directors have negotiated high volume case placements with Debt Buyers seeking to have an arrangement with GCS to handle their local and in particular their global collection cases