Our Managing Director, Colin Thomas, represented STA International at the European Collectors Association congress in Florence so I caught up with him to hear how things went.
The ECA is 22 countries strong association, with one-member-per-country of best-in-breed debt collection agencies, with STA the UK member. Its role is to lobby the EU in support of creditors and exchange information with members about local country legal laws and late payment legislation. This means each member can de-mystify the market conditions of foreign markets, offer advice on the best course of action to recover unpaid accounts, and save its clients time, money and resource.
I started with a thinly veiled question. “I’ve not seen you since you returned, and wanted to thank you for letting me stand in for you at the recent export credit manager’s meeting in Folkestone. What made you choose Florence and not Folkestone?”
“Very droll Owen.” said Colin, adding “Tunnel vision if I may so. Folkestone’s about 20 miles from continental Europe so we both channelled energy on our export trade.” Touché, and time to move on I thought.
Each year a member country hosts the congress – this year was the Italian’s turn – where members discuss shared cross-border trade, assess member performance, and look at how to extend the association further.
I asked how important ECA members were to STA and its export business. Colin confirmed that 75% of STAs international recoveries result directly from its efforts in the UK. The remaining 25% comes from ECA members and agents elsewhere in the world.
Colin added: “Export business is crucial to the UK economy, Europe is the UKs biggest export market, and STAs role is make help its creditor clients get paid. Liquidity remains the biggest reason for late payment that we see, with lack of cash making many use outstanding supplier invoices as a form of financing. This is why we take our membership of the ECA very seriously and why I feel it necessary to go to Florence.”
“Where is next year’s congress?” I asked. “It’s in Oslo.” said Colin, adding that he hoped I’d again represent STA at the next export credit manager’s meeting. “Where is it being held?” I asked in keen anticipation. Oswestry wasn’t exactly the answer I’d expected.