The 2012/03/30 at 08:16
Qualified as a General Engineer in the French Corps of Bridges and Roads and a graduate of the École Polytechnique, Jean-Yves Bajon has specialised in international, business development and economic information issues throughout his career at the Ministry of Economy and Finance (1990-2008) and the Ministry of Equipment (1988-1990). Jean-Yves Bajon has been Chief Executive Officer of Coface Services since 2009.
Commerce International: For those who do not yet know you, what is Coface Services?
Jean-Yves Bajon: "Coface Services, a subsidiary of the Natixis group, like the credit insurer Coface, is today the leading integrated operator of credit management services on the French market. It offers all French and international businesses comprehensive or modular solutions for developing their client portfolios, by controlling risks, optimally managing receivables and acting effectively on their cash-flow needs. Coface Services is the only operator to offer a set of solutions to provide security for every stage of a company's sales cycle. It relies on strong expertise in each of its three activities – data solutions, business information, credit management – to offer a unique approach to client management."
How can client and supplier risks be effectively piloted today?
J.-Y. B.: "Identification of new partners can be done by the company itself, but recourse to a service provider allows for more efficiency, freshness, and above all the exhaustiveness of information dealt with. The cross-referencing of files on prospects, with data on financial solidity and creditworthiness, increases the relevance of actions carried out. For it is a matter of establishing a sustainable relationship: is my future partner solid? What is the likelihood of short- or medium-term default? Who are its shareholders? Does the business pipeline tally with its structure? When these elements are checked, the administrative process can rely on a protective legal framework and ongoing follow-up on the partner's life and health. Setting up an organisation dedicated to bill payment is vital for businesses. Calling on an external service provider from the amiable reminder onwards brings good rresults while preserving business relations, but if need be, one should not hesitate to go further with a professional who masters procedures perfectly and can guide the businesses on following stages and pilot a network of lawyers and bailiffs."
Has the financial and economic crisis altered behaviour?
J.-Y. B.: "The highly degraded context has led to an upset in client-supplier relations. Now, businesses are more concerned than ever about the creditworthiness of their clients and debt recovery. This is why outsourcing is often envisaged, for the business without a positive free cash flow is forced to draw from its treasury or else fall into debt to finance itself. The optimisation of client credit is based on a triptych: risk management – diminishing days sales outstanding (DSO) – dispute resolution. At the same time, businesses need to conquer new markets in France and overseas. As credit insurers withdraw, they need more specific updated information with relevant management indicators, payment behaviour indexes, specific and quality scoring... Coface Services offers an alternative that is integrated into the process of securing client relations without compromising the development of business plans or damaging business relationships."
Receivables management is closely linked to business information. What do you this in this area?
J.-Y. B.: "Receivables management follows on immediately from business information in the customer relations management cycle, and Coface Services can intervene from the invoice issuing stage onwards, before or after failure of payment, to identify obstacles to payment. When we are commissioned to recover debts, we need to determine the causes of non-payment, either recover the whole sum or else set up payment plans, and detect delay actions that may hide cash-flow problems. Every file is associated with the debtor business in our database and has an impact on its score as soon as it is created. The complementariness of activities goes both ways. All our files are 'under surveillance' and allow management to be adapted and personalised according to circumstances: this is a user friendly system and a gauge of quality for our clients. While the priority objective is to recover more debts more quickly, compiling economic and financial data for recovery information allows us to advise our clients better and to alert them on certain indicators, to put our results in perspective..."
Do data solutions increase the efficiency of your offers and the reactivity of your clients?
J.-Y. B.: "Our objective is to develop specific solutions: this is no longer a mere matter of delivering marketing or statistical data to our clients, but rather integrating them directly to their tools, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or otherwise. Interaction and exchange with businesses are essential if we want to have fresh data that closely follows company news, not only financial but also structural and strategic. This singularity allows Coface Services to be in a position to offer standard and modular services, as well as data with high added value such as on shareholder relationships. In this way, our new 'Analyse Cœur de Cible' service allows existing client portfolios to be analysed, determining the best business profiles via the blending of information supplied directly by our clients with information in our database, then targeting prospects offering the best business potential."
Does the introduction of the mobile phone version of your information portal translate a reality in terms of client needs?
J.-Y. B.: "Two major evolutions have taken place in recent years: Internet and mobile phones, both gathered in the smartphone. Having access to information at any time wherever you may be is now the norm, even a requirement. Allowing our clients to access information that is useful to them immediately, with adapted ergonomics and a smart search system, meets current requirements for efficiency and interactivity."
What will be your next innovations?
J.-Y. B.: "Our 2012 objective is to offer our clients innovations every two to three months and to make increasingly flexible offers available to them. Internationally, we will be offering more competitive information this year in terms of rates and timeframes, with facilitated integration of information recovered online. Our recovery offer has already been enhanced by credit diagnostics thanks to our global network of correspondents. In addition, we will continue to improve our tools and data in order to offer our clients quality products unmatched on the market."