The Psychology of Risk
When to buy Trade Credit Insurance
Risk management often requires a counter-intuitive approach, challenging ourselves to think through whether we have accurately assessed the possible risks that face our businesses. Planning for a range of outcomes requires an evaluation of downside risk. This runs counter to the optimistic view we naturally have for our efforts in building individual enterprises. Yet the recent bankruptcy of Toys-R-Us highlights why, even when times are good and indicators seem positive, “black swan” events can happen. The time to plan for those events is ahead of the crisis.
Imagine the scenario: It is August 2017. As the CEO of a toy manufacturing company, your firm is coming up on the biggest, most lucrative season of the year – the December holidays. Irrespective of tradition, the bringer of gifts will need some 21st century manufacturing support — your toy company is just the one for the job!
Knowing the retail toy sector is largely seasonal, your company team understands the traditionally longer manufacturing lead times needed to stock store shelves. They have worked hard, marketed and won contracts from the major toy retailers in advance of the big season. Your company also anticipated the early holiday shoppers and made sure products will be delivered by the middle of September. It is this holiday-season Accounts Receivable that will fund your firm’s working capital throughout a good portion of next year.
Now ask the question: Do you need trade credit insurance on those Accounts Receivable? Is it a luxury or a necessity? There is market concentration with a historically large buyer that could not possibly file for bankruptcy right before the holiday season, the best time of the year. You decide to gamble with that thought in mind.
Your CFO, however, has been reading the trade press on the difficulties facing the retail sector, as the major box stores wither under cost competition from online retailers. She recommends you take a look at insuring buyer risk, just in case retailing has indeed crossed a Rubicon and become an online enterprise. The is not really the news you want to hear going into the busiest season of the year — but then again, you made her CFO because she is willing to bring you the hard news. With a quick call to your broker, you are able to line up a trade credit solution covering the risk concentration associated with a large buyer. As it turns out, this one call can be the move that saves your toy company. Unlike many of your competitors, you will now get paid for the shipped merchandise.
When everything is going well, accounts receivable are being paid and aging accounts are small, trade credit insurance might look like a luxury. However, it is also a good time to review your options and risks with an experienced trade credit insurance expert at Securitas Global. The premium rates can be lower with greater underwriting capacity. Even more importantly, markets recognize the value of supporting existing clients on credits like Toys “R” Us. Just prior to the bankruptcy filing, our Securitas Global team heard comments from vendors with respect to getting trade credit insurance on Toys-R-Us that included: “It’s expensive” and “We’re concerned, but we don’t think they’ll file yet.” When it became clear there would be a loss, and insurance was no longer available since underwriters will not insure a certain loss, the cost of protection became secondary. The conversation became one of whether any available coverage options existed.
The moral of the story: The time to put trade credit insurance in place is before there is a known risk. As one client shared “I have too much invested in my business to risk it because one of my customers can’t pay me.” Securitas Global can develop a customized solution to cover your needs at the right price point. We work with clients to determine their level of risk and how to allocate it then devise a policy that will cover their specific needs. This can include coverage for overseas buyers and ways to mitigate political risk. By insuring accounts receivable, we are able to preserve your firm’s working capital and support credit access.