It was fourth-century bishop Saint Ambrose who gave us the saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”. His idea – that you need to adapt to local circumstances and traditions – remains relevant to this day, particularly in the area of financial services.
In an arvato insights report earlier this year, we looked at the different circumstances facing online merchants across the Nordic region, and in the UK, German and Dutch markets, particularly in terms of preferred payment solutions. That report showed clearly that merchants need local knowledge and support when it comes to providing the payment forms that customers want in different countries. Security concerns, regulatory environments and pure customer preferences are just some of the factors that create major differences in markets that otherwise look so similar. Favoured payment forms in one country might be restricted or even illegal in another. Without local knowledge, you don’t get very far.
The same applies to other financial services of course. Our focus over the past month on debt collection brought my mind back to an article in issue 2 of our Pay magazine earlier this year that looked at significant changes to the debt collection system in the United Kingdom since the introduction of the Financial Conduct Authority in April 2014.
This major change in the debt-collection compliance framework coincided with dramatically increasing levels of personal and commercial debt, late payments and defaults, closely tied to macroeconomic factors. It all added up to a major challenge to the debt collection industry, in terms of helping creditors, consumers and distressed businesses manage their bad debt exposure.
The introduction of the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) brought in new requirements in debt collection, and expanded others. Our British counterparts at arvato Financial Solutions UK have therefore applied for full FCA authorisation, and are consequently investing in new job roles and positions, particularly in the areas of Risk and Compliance, Quality Management, Audit and Quality Assurance. They are also adapting their ISO 9001:2008 quality management system to create a conduct policy framework that underpins all their processes and customer interactions.
They have also implemented a “three lines of defence” model that requires the Operations, Risk and Compliance, and Internal and External Auditing departments to report independently to senior management.
It has been a big investment. But it is the sort of investment you want to see your partner make. When you need local expertise and insights, you naturally want to make sure you get the best around. And in a changing financial landscape, you want a partner who adapts, who stays up to date and ahead of the pack.
That’s why we make sure we combine our global scale with local expertise and knowledge. Here in the Nordic region, and wherever you find arvato all around the world
– Joachim Högberg
Chief Financial Officer, arvato Financial Solutions Nordics