ITFA has hit the 2017 conference trail moderating two panels at the recent BCR Supply Chain Finance Summit in Frankfurt. Both panels drew great interest from the audience and overran their allotted time through the sheer number of questions from a very engaged audience. Feedback has been consistent in viewing these panels as amongst the most thought-provoking and valuable of the conference.
Silja Calac firstly led an ITFA insurance committee team talking about the function and current challenges facing Credit Risk Insurance. ITFA is grateful to Manuel Lopez from Marsh, Simon Bessant from Texel and Huw Owen from Liberty for taking part. This was firstly a run-through the recently published ITFA Insurance Guidelines which aims to help users and providers of insurance achieve Basel and Insurance Act complaint policies. The full guide is, of course, only available to members but Silja set out the main issues for those not fortunate to enjoy membership. Whilst some of the issues are very technical, mastering them is critical if users wish to obtain the best possible capital relief and, at a more basic level, ensure that policies are enforceable and valid claims can be made. The recent English Insurance Act 2015 (many policies are subject to English law even if used by non-English insureds so the Act has relevance way beyond the United Kingdom) gives new rights to users of insurance but a number of subtle points can arise. Discussion of the Act was a springboard to enter into a wider survey of the credit risk insurance market which sparked much interest as the audience realised how powerful use of this product could be commercially. It has the ability to act as a ''force multiplier'' allowing bigger tickets and more business to be underwritten whilst simultaneously being capital efficient. The common belief that claims are never paid and insurers do all they can to avoid payment was dispelled by both brokers and underwriters. Calls at the end of the conference for more credit insurance to be made available showed how well this panel had hit its mark.
Sean Edwards’s panel on Moody’s recent paper on Abengoa was both a reprise, and a development of, the panel he moderated at the 2016 annual conference in Warsaw. Again, Matthias Heck of Moody’s and author of the Abengoa paper took the stand partnered, this time, by Eugenio Cavenaghi of Santander. As recipients of our regular emails will be aware, ITFA met with Moody’s in December to discuss the implications of their paper which suggested that, in certain circumstances, trade debt offered up to banks as part of a payables financing programme could become bank debt. Moody’s have since accepted in their revised adjustment methodology that a standard i.e. automatically applicable, adjustment for users of such programmes was not appropriate and that each situation would need separate and careful analysis. For many members of the audience, even the possibility that such a reclassification of trade debt existed was something of a shock and drew some passionate responses. The discussion around the various factors which would or could be taken into account in making this analysis was therefore both highly instructive and, once cooler thought prevailed, something of a relief. These factors include whether or not payment terms are changed beyond the industry norm, changes to rights of creditors (still an issue because of the widespread use of irrevocable payment undertakings in such structures), the size of the programme as a proportion of a corporate’s financing needs, collateralisation or security being granted by the buyer and above all, the transparency of the programme. This was one of the most popular panels of the whole conference as attested by the conversations that continued into the break and beyond. ITFA will be producing a paper on this important subject with guidance and as much clarification from Moody’s as we are able to get.