2011 started on a positive note when almost everyone was predicting a reasonably solid year based on the miraculous recovery experienced in 2010 due to collective efforts mustered from an unprecedented global scale among major trading nations. It somehow turned into something like a golfing nightmare - the first nine was fine but then you can forget about the rest of the game!
The global stock markets, which usually are reliable indicators of the global financial health, took a big hit. In 2011, according to Financial Times, a total of $6.3 trillion had been wiped off! This is caused by the Eurozone financial crisis triggered by the Euro debts.
The origin of the Euro crisis is one that is so straight forward that it does not need a J.M. Keynes or Milton Friedman to research and explain. To put it simply, the crisis was manufactured by the availability of cheap money that lesser EU countries could not afford to borrow. That has resulted in imbalance budgets with inappropriate investment and spending.
The Asian stock markets were hard-hit by the 2011 crisis, if not more than others. The Neikei index lost 17.3 per cent; the Hang Seng lost 20 per cent while the Shanghai composite was wiped out 22 per cent.
Despite the collective efforts from policymakers to shore up the Eurozone, it is expected that 2012 will be a year of high volatility. The first or perhaps the biggest test would come in the first quarter with hundreds of billions of euros worth of government and bank debt coming due.
Being an open economy, Hong Kong will not be immune from any global crisis. If we take a quick look at the relevant statistics, we already see steady drops. The GDP has been slowed to 4.3 per cent in the third quarter of 2011 versus 5.3 per cent on the previous quarter.
The Consumer Price Index has shown a steady 5.7 per cent increase in the same period while the unemployment rate was 3.7 per cent.
Having brought to your attention a number of statistics, what do they mean to us? What difficulties are we facing in 2012 and most importantly, what are impacts on us in a professional sense?
I think the financial world has made a mockery of most statistics in the last few decades where history has repeated themselves through different forms of crisis. Each time, almost without exception, fingers are pointing at greed coupled with the usual failure of the related system. I am afraid this is rather futile because what we are potentially seeing is free market at work where greed is an expected component!
Facing 2012, I think it is necessary to repeat the obvious:
· A volatile financial market
· Credit and trading risk will increase substantially
· Tight internal measures must be put in place to avoid losses
The financial markets will continue to be heavily influenced by the Eurozone debts and in our part of the world, the macro economic measures of the Chinese government. In this sense, a wrong turn of events could send the market tumbling and vice versa. In the absence of a reliable crystal ball, it is safe to suggest that we should get a clearer picture of what 2012 is going to be like before the end of first quarter. If there are no credible proposals to solve the Eurozone crisis, then 2012 would be a year of roller coaster rides.
The current crisis has tightened global liquidity which has a direct impact on credit and trading risks. In most cases, our business models involve the financing of orders through purchasing of raw materials. In this sense, most businesses including our customers are surviving on short term liquidity. In a general credit squeeze businesses are playing double jeopardy on the ability to finance the orders while hoping their customers would honor their commitments. The outlook for 2012 in terms of general trade would be one of extreme competitiveness. The strong would survive while the lesser ones would fail.
In light of tight liquidity coming up in 2012, we need to tighten internal measures to mitigate risks. This is the year where businesses would really need to drill on margins and cash flow rather than on sales. To achieve this, one would need to consider giving up certain markets or customers who does not offer the necessary margin. Taking risk on customers will be an area to exercise extreme caution. Gone are the days where businesses could take bad debts as part of the variable costs. In tight situations, a single default customer could kill a business if they are substantial enough. Doing business based on risk mitigation is unthinkable in the past but could be fast becoming the tool for survival in 2012.
Review and Acheivements
Executive Council and Executive Committee
The Association is run by an Executive Committee of eight Executive Councilors with the support of three staff members. The following sub-committees are formed to run the Association's operation and strategic imperatives:
· Annual Award
· Information Technology
· Public Relations
On top of the sub-committees, our Secretary and Treasurer offer strong support in managing the Association in a financially healthy manner. All issues and decisions were the result of discussions, day-to-day communications and monthly focused meetings. The differences in perspective and opinions from committee and staff members are fully reflected in every single meeting, which has resulted in a productive consensus and continuous growth of the Association.
Members and Recruitment
Our members come from a wide spectrum such as accounting and auditing, electronics, telecommunications, banking and finance, legal practices, shipping and transportation, manufacturing, trading, debt collection agencies, credit reporting agencies, credit consulting and the world’s leading export credit agencies. This diversity continues to bring broad-based input and balanced suggestions or opinions on different issues. In this sense, I urge all the members to treat the Association as a centre of expertise when it comes to credit and collection management issues. This is certainly an area the Association will further work on to ensure valuable knowledge will be shared among members.
A sub-committee was formed in December 2010 on the enhancement of our website. The aim is to make our website more user-friendly as well as incorporating more functions to serve members better. The enhancement was completed and launched on 1 June 2011. Members are now able to create their own user identity and login password as well as modifying their personal information. Our website is now connected to Facebook and Twitter as well as having email functions.
Thanks to the project team, our new website has become more popular with 9,000 hits per month from our members and general public from Hong Kong and overseas. Here I would like to further encourage our members to make full use of our website to get the most benefit from the new functionalities.
Certification Program - Credit & Collection Professional
The examination of the Credit & Collection Professional ("CCP")* was held on 19 March 2011 at the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority. On 4 March 2011, our Executive Councilor Mr. Bobby Rozario held a tutorial class for the candidates prior to the examination to assist the candidates to achieve higher examination results.
The two qualified Credit & Collection Professional during 2011 are:
1. Vivian Kwok Yee Man
2. Angela Or Ka Kei
On behalf of HKCCMA and the Certification Committee, I congratulate the new CCPs. An official certificate presentation ceremony will be held in the upcoming AGM to recognize their achievements.
The CCP certification program has certified 19 Credit and Collection Professionals from various industries since its launch in 2006. The forthcoming CCP examination will be held around April 2012.
Details of the CCP and the related certification are listed on the Association's website www.hkccma.com. Alternatively, members can send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org to obtain more details about the program, application requirements and fees.
For non-members, please visit our site to download the membership application form, so as to take advantage of the opportunity to get certified. This is the only certification program available for credit and collection practitioners in Hong Kong and Mainland China to get certified, and be recognized.
*HKCCMA is the exclusive body of the CCP certification program in Hong Kong
#ACA International, USA (the world's largest credit and collection industry association and has been established for over 71 years.
Survey, Seminar & Exhibition
The Association initiated a survey on the Receivable Management status of the Logistic Industry in China during the last quarter of 2011. Data collection and subsequent interviews were completed in December. The response from the industry was most encouraging and the results of the survey will be published in the first quarter of 2012. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Bobby Rozario on his meticulous follow up on this project.
Due to the overwhelming feedback we received over the years, the Association will continue to organize seminars and training programs to our members aiming raise the level of professionalism in the credit and collection industry.
On 11 October 2011 the Association has organized a seminar at the Institute of Certified Management Accountants. The speakers are Margaret Tse and Desmond Wu who are both highly experienced professionals. Their topics are "The Reward and Challenge of being a Credit Practitioner" and "Transformation of Credit Manager's role in Banking Industry".
The seminar was well-attended by 30 members and their guests and they were fascinated by the work life experience of the speakers and the session were highly interactive where views were exchanged in a fun and yet candid manner.
Mix At Six
The Association held two "Mix-At-Six" functions respectively in June and September 2011, which provided "mix-and-mingle" social evenings for members and non-members.
"Mix-At-Six" has been a relaxing business and intelligence exchange, and friendship build-up function since its inception. It is also a function to welcome the new-members and has been a networking platform where the credit and collection practitioners can have relaxing moments to meet, chat and exchange intelligence and opinion.
If you have not attended this event before, we warmly welcome you to join.
Upon the completion of the AGM on 13th January 2012, the Association will step into the thirteenth year of its establishment. I take this opportunity to thank each of the executive councilors, sub-committee chairs and members for their leadership and contributions during the past year. With their invaluable support along with those from existing and new members, they have provided a strong backbone to the Association, leading to our continual growth.
As the only credit and collection industry association in Hong Kong and China, one of HKCCMA's core principles is to preserve a healthy credit environment through regulation, maintaining and developing the highest ethical standards, practices and professionalism within our industry, and of our fellow practitioners.
I would like to thank our staff, Betty Huen, Andrew Kwok and Eddie Chan. In addition, I would like to give my thanks to our Executive Committee Members, Benedict Wong, Bobby Rozario, Francis Yeung, Germany Heng, Paul Tsang, Philip Chan and Ricky Chan.
On behalf of the Association, I would like to thank our Honorary Patrons ACA International; Mr. Patrick J. Morris (CEO of ACA International) and Mr. Neil Wood (Past Chairman of the International Unit of ACA International and Chairman of GCS Group); our Honorary Legal Advisors Mr. Victor Chan (Partner of Tang, Wong, Cheung & Co) and our Honorary China Legal Advisor Mr. Ricky J. F. Li (Partner of Alpha and Leader Law Firm).
The Executive Council
The election result of the 2011-2012 Executive Council has been announced to all members in January, prior to the AGM. The new Executive Councilors will officially assume duty after the Annual General Meeting & Dinner to be held on the 13th January 2012 at the Club Lusitano. The current Executive Councilors will retire at the close of the AGM and the newly elected Executive Councilors for the 2011-2012 are:1) Benedict WONG2) Bobby ROZARIO3) Francis YEUNG4) Germany HENG5) Grace WONG6) Paul TSANG7) Philip CHAN8) Ricky CHAN9) Stephen LO
The Executive Committee
In line with the Articles of Association of HKCCMA and for the purpose of transacting the day-to-day business of the Association, the coming 2011-2012 Executive Committee will consist of the Association’s Chairman and the Vice Chairman, and other Executive Councilors, by appointment and acceptance basis. The 2011-2012 Executive Committee will assume its duty concurrent with the conclusion of the AGM on the 13th January 2012. Results of the 2011-2012 Executive Committee appointments will be announced to all members via email and website by the Chair of the Election Committee. The 2011-2012 Executive Committee, to administer and manage the day-to-day business of the Association, will be reporting to the Executive Council, and ultimately to the members of the Association.
2011 – 2012 Plans and Goals
- Continue searching for development and co-operation opportunities with appropriate organizations and bodies for the expansion of CCP into China
- Continue establishing domestic and global recognition and affiliation with international industry associations and professional bodies
- Organize and exchange seminars and training programs with industry associations within Hong Kong and in mainland China, to develop the professionalism in the credit and collection industry
- To establish the Credit Management Excellence Award to recognize those individuals who have made significant contributions to Credit & Collection Management.
- Review, develop and organize functions and events for members and non-members, such as through sponsorship of mix and mingle functions like "Mix-At-Six", "Member's Outing" and other recreational activities.
- Continue to provide free educational courses, seminars and workshops for members and non-members (including tutorial class for CCP examination to assist candidates in achieving their certification)
The HKCCMA is the only industry association in Hong Kong with members comprising of experienced credit and collection practitioners, managers and executives from small to large enterprises. It will continue to encourage and maintain a healthy credit environment through the continuing development of the highest ethical standards, professionalism and practices within our industry.
In closing, I would like to express my appreciation and gratitude to the continual support, participation and contribution from all of our members and sponsors, and to all who have offered their assistance in various ways to this chairman statement.
On behalf of the Association, I wish you all the happiness, the best of health and prosperity, in the forthcoming year. In addition, I wish you to go on to enjoy long and successful careers and businesses.
Look forward to seeing you all on the 13th January at our annual general meeting!Stephen S.K. Lo
Hong Kong, January 2012