What’s up with the leader of the debt management industry, i.e. into a post-covid future with a new area of activity and with global support – an interview with Krzysztof Krauze, President of Intrum in Poland
The first half of 2021 is behind us and the next months of operation in the crown-reality. What a half year it has been for Intrum, how is the credit management industry doing?
It is true that the pandemic is not yet over, but generally business is recovering, which makes me very happy. This is largely due to the vaccination programme, which, after initial fears and confusion, is working quite well in our country. Companies are optimistic about the future, so they are getting back to interrupted investments and planning the next steps. The lifting of restrictions has also brought consumers back, to shops and restaurants, etc., and that means more money in circulation.
This revival is also noticeable in the credit management industry. Entrepreneurs have again started to see the sense in starting the process of debt recovery, after many of them for more than a year of the coronation crisis considered such actions pointless, because, after all, “the debtors did not have the money to pay anyway”. They outsource this action to professional debt collection companies, such as Intrum, who will properly take care of their needs and proper contact with indebted entities and companies. It is also worth noting that the financial situation of many consumers has improved to such an extent that the repayment of outstanding debts has again become a priority on the list of expenses.
Concerning Intrum specifically, we recently celebrated the first anniversary of the transaction with Pragma, i.e. entering into a new business segment.
This means that the company has made an important business step in the midst of a pandemic in an uncertain reality. Was this move worthwhile?
The answer is definitely yes. Over a year ago, during the first lockdown, we finalized a transaction of purchase of an organized part of the enterprise from Pragma Inkaso S. A. , which also included purchase of mortgage debt portfolios. The Intrum team was also joined by a group of several dozen new specialists – Pragma’s existing employees – who dealt with a new asset class (Alternative Assets).
Before entering this new business segment and in a pandemic, we made an analysis of the situation at the time. A dedicated Intrum team read various expert reports on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the functioning of Polish companies and its effects on our economy. After analyzing the facts, we made a transaction that was not only a milestone in our business, but also a historic event for Intrum in Poland. The pandemic even turned out to be a favourable moment, as the crown-crisis highlighted new customer needs, demand for certain services and, at the same time, certain deficiencies in the services offered by companies in our sector. There is also no denying that our decision strengthens Intrum’s position on the market and is a great starting point for thinking about further development. Exceptional times, and we are undoubtedly operating in such a reality now, require reaching for exceptional, unusual solutions. This is what we think of Intrum’s entry into the secured debt market. We already have the first tangible benefits of this situation, but there is still time to sum up the successes.
Has Intrum introduced any additional solutions to prepare not only for action in the pandemic, but also in the post-covid reality, as if it did not look like it?
Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have been closely following the developments related to the epidemiological situation in our country. We were constantly adjusting our activities to the emerging restrictions. We also quickly set to work in the new reality. Thanks to this approach, Intrum was able to maintain business continuity in the pandemic. We have not introduced any specific, single solutions, or rather, it should be said that we have approached the matter in a comprehensive manner.
We are also thinking about the future. The crisis will end but the pandemic has changed a lot in the operation of companies and in business in general. First of all, new customer needs have emerged. To meet them, companies need to grow, to change constantly. Intrum knows that. In the entire Group, including Intrum in Poland, the process of transformation into ONE Intrum has begun.
What is the ONE Intrum project about?
The ONE Intrum project will turn us into a fully customer-focused company that responds perfectly to current market needs. In practice, this will enable us to offer best-in-class services to customers, thanks to the latest solutions supported by advanced technology and analytics. ONE Intrum also represents new growth opportunities for our employees, as working at Intrum will mean working for a true international market leader who is driving the industry in the right direction. It is also not insignificant that ONE Intrum will reinforce our goal of leading the way towards a healthy economy.
How do we intend to do all this? By becoming a modern, global brand with a single operating model, in all European countries where Intrum operates. Today we have 41 call centres and 55 debt collection systems in the Intrum Group, making us an industry leader and a valued partner among debt management system providers. However, we need to reduce the complexity and increase the efficiency of our production by creating a global CMS process and infrastructure that will support the daily work of all our colleagues in Intrum. The Transformation Programme will end in 2023 and will also include Poland. We have a lot of work and challenges ahead of us, but the goal is clear: to become a modern company that takes full advantage of economies of scale and has solutions tailored to the current times, providing competitive services.