More than 100 business and credit professionals from as far as the Europe Union’s outlying borders, the Far East and the Americas traveled to Madrid this week for FCIB's annual International Credit and Risk Management Summit and Expo. The three-day conference, from Sunday through Tuesday, offered attendees an opportunity to network with one another and learn about relevant topics affecting the credit industry, such as supply chain finance and working capital management.
Freddy van den Spiegel, former chief economist for BNP Paribas Fortis, set a tone for the conference while explaining that the global economic landscape was not in as bad a shape as many media experts purport and is especially far from the “great unraveling” that the Financial Times promises. Still, the popular economist admitted the global recovery likely won’t accelerate much until 2016.
Supply chain management and financing became a bit of a buzz topic at the conference. Jaap Jan Nienhuis, senior credit consultant for Innopay BV in Amsterdam, defined supply chain finance as a collaboration between a buyer and seller on cash flow with the objective of optimizing working capital and reducing risk. Usually facilitated by an external platform, it is an expanding area in business credit marketplace yet is still employed with regularity by a small portion of companies. In a related interview with FCIB, Nienhuis noted the surge of new initiatives or product and service offerings related to supply chain finance, with something new hitting the market “almost every week” to meet the growing demand. A number of European creditors are increasing the amount of discounts they offer for early payments, which help the cash turn by sometimes avoiding expensive bank borrowing fees, Nienhuis added. Related speaker panel discussions on the topic included “e-Commerce Driven Strategies to Support Working Capital Management” and “An Alternate Financial Supply Chain.”
Other discussions of particular note focused on specific regions including the Middle East, Asia and Africa. During the “Trade Financing in Emerging Markets” session, panelists targeted Africa as market with boom potential. “There is a lot of prospective for growth in Africa,” said Jean-Paul Steenbeke, deputy CEO, head of sales and account management for Credimundi in Brussels.
Many countries were represented by attendees at the Summit including: Spain, Netherlands, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Japan, France, United States, Finland, Germany, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Tanzania, Russia, United Arab Emirates and Cyprus.
- Jennifer Lehman, NACM marketing and communications associate