In boosting businesses, we could spurt like Ferraris, but we’re moving at Turtle speed
The analysis of the use of funds and current tendencies in the country’s economy leads to the obvious conclusion that we use the available financial resources in Lithuania in a too conservative way, and, instead of the opportunity to exploit the situation and spurt at the capacity of Ferrari, we choose a safe but a very slow growth at the speed of a Turtle.
From a psychological point of view, the situation is understandable, since along with the usual risks – commercial, technological and many others, business today faces the biggest challenge of regulation.
Recalling the lessons of 2009-2011 crisis, both business companies and banks more often ground the management of their economic situation on risk minimization. In other words, for reasons of caution, they would rather not grant a loan than allot time for a more thorough analysis of the situation.
However, a qualified and comprehensive risk management provide opportunities for business development, especially now, when we have a sufficient number of automated management tools based on data.
Several weeks ago, a survey carried out by the Bank of Lithuania (LB) showed that at the present moment, a more careful consideration should be given to hotels, restaurants, and part of real estate companies. However, the significantly reduced or discontinued funding has had a negative effect on an absolute majority of business sectors whose situation during the pandemic has not gotten worse and has even improved.
Capital adequacy is good, but a reluctance to lend money remains
Responsible lending constitutes the backbone of any economy, and Lithuanian business has learned to take a responsible attitude to loan repayments. For example, Lithuania is marked out among other countries of the European Union (EU) by the smallest – only 3% of all loan portfolio – part of business enterprises which have made use of a moratorium on loans declared in the spring of 2020.
In addition, according to the Bank of Lithuania, part of non-performing loans has been regularly decreasing and now has reached the lowest historical level of 1.5%. In other words, in their concern about high credit ratings and a good financial reputation, the enterprises are doing their utmost to repay both loans and interest on time.
With full knowledge of the aforementioned facts, what surprises, is a particularly prudent financing of business or strict conditions of granting loans, especially taking into account the fact that the population’s and enterprises’ deposits have reached record heights on a global scale. In Lithuania, the capital adequacy ratio of the bank sector having reached the highest bar of 25% in 2015, has remained at the top and currently fluctuates at around 22%.
The situation is changing dynamically, but every company must be evaluated separately
On the other hand, the analysis of the financial situation of enterprises warns that the situation in the market is changing dynamically. For example, if in 2020, 11% of enterprises entered the highest and high classes of bankruptcy risk, this year there are 17% of such enterprises. There is a greater probability that part of enterprises may fall behind on their payments. For example, in 2020 a high and the highest risk of payment delays was attributed to 18% of companies, however, this year the number of such enterprises has increased by 31%.
And still, the analysis of separate sectors provides more clarity. For example, the number of construction companies of high and the highest classes of risk has risen over the year from 19 % in (2020) to 23% in (2021). And in the transport sector from 15% to 23% respectively. A greater emphasis should be laid on the situation of trading companies. The companies of this sector have split into two blocs – companies whose activity was restricted and the financial situation was getting worse, and the ones whose situation was changing for the better.
Unfortunately, in the catering sector the situation is still the worst. Last year 30% of these companies were classified as having high or the highest risk, and this year this figure reached 45%. However, it is believed that a gradual loosening of business restrictions would enable the recovering of this sector.
The services sector is now doing well, – part of its enterprises of high and highest risk remains moderate, although it has increased by 6% to 9%. Every enterprise must be evaluated individually, and if the financial position and discipline are strong, there are no reasons for the discontinuation of financing such businesses.
We are living in many-speed economic conditions. When some enterprises are made to stop their activity, others experience a boom and have successfully moved their business to digital space. The EU business support measures have deferred the declaration of bankruptcy for part of enterprises. However, the situation can change even more dynamically when the states‘ support is withdrawn. This aspect makes one carefully supervise one‘s business partners, require quarterly financial reports, a record of the quality of transparent property and its declaration.
What rules would I most recommend to comply with? The enterprises which have the experience of assessing their partners, know that information in credit bureau systems which is updated every day, includes tens of various indicators, and algorithms which calculate creditworthiness and risk, evaluate more than 100 different parameters. However, at present, in evaluating the new partners‘ financial statements, activities or shareholders‘ business relationships, I would suggest paying particular attention to negative information. Check if there are no court actions, if the number of employees has not drastically decreased, and if there are no recorded arrears. Under the conditions of big flow of information your business could be assisted by an early warning system which would allow to see the threatening changes and thus, react immediately.
We have a sufficient number of tools of risk management, it is time to make a more efficient use of capital
Current technological innovations make it possible to both disclose and find information about the buyer‘s or partner‘s debts during a few seconds. Normally, the essential information about overdue payments is freely available. Therefore, I would urge again that every granting of credit should be considered separately. Evaluating the aforementioned figures, it becomes obvious that we have not used great possibilities to help economy recover as soon as possible. Guarding ourselves against a very small part of unreliable debtors, we punish a far bigger part of disciplined businesses.
An operative exchange of information about debtors could assist us and others in making more precise and quicker decisions as well as preventing a domino effect, when the debt of one enterprise establishes the whole chain of overdue payments.
Let us go back to strategies of a Turtle or Ferrari. There are different tools of risk management. It is possible to insure oneself against taking on any risk. In this case the enterprise will grow slowly.
Or, on the contrary, one can use all the capacities and possibilities of Ferrari. This car has not only fast acceleration and high speed, but also a well-operating brake system which in business, is analogous to data-based risk management.
There is no doubt that crediting must be responsible and take into consideration all the risks. However, at present there are enough reliable tools which assist in making optimal decisions. Therefore we can better employ capital, promote the country‘s business and stimulate its economy.
Chief Commercial Officer,