If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is the need to be agile and responsive to change. Brands that do not have the courage to embrace transformation are likely to be left behind. A company that has perfectly demonstrated this, is Controlaccount Plc.
This month sees Controlaccount quietly celebrate its 40th anniversary and here we look at how the business has evolved from a simple debt recovery firm, into a fully integrated outsourcing business, delivering over fifty white labelled services to some of the biggest UK and global names. Over the past five years, the firm has repositioned itself to respond to shifts in the debt recovery landscape.
Founded on values
Initially based in a small office in Holborn, London, Controlaccount was founded in September 1980, by Chairman, Graham Ball. The initial objective was to support clients with debt collection services, whilst operating with integrity, decency and understanding. These core values have been delivered consistently, throughout the company’s history. This proposition was attractive to many clients who needed to collect overdue invoices but did not want to be associated with the murky world of debt recovery (as it was seen in the early ‘80s).
Controlaccount began working predominantly with clients in the medical sector. At one stage in its history, Controlaccount worked for most of the UK’s private hospitals and healthcare continues to be a key sector the firm supports. Other early clients came from growing sectors such as mobile phone companies and international debt recovery organisations (secured through professional relationships with commercial attachés in London embassies).
Growth and expansion
Forty years on, on behalf of its many blue-chip customers, Controlaccount undertakes the recovery of over 30,000 delinquent invoices every month and collects some £40m each year. Key clients now include leading universities and colleges, a number of medical establishments and brand names from across the transport and logistics sector. It has not however, always been an upward trajectory and Controlaccount navigated many challenges during its forty years. As the debt recovery sector matured, it became more crowded and inevitably, rates were driven down. Although this resulted in the business losing some clients, by continuing to uphold its core principles, Controlaccount retained clients that valued both success and decency.
With a track-record driven by its embedded values, it is no surprise that Controlaccount was a founding (and continues to be a) member of the Credit Services Association, and that its ISO accreditations are woven throughout its day to day processes.
Responding to needs
As the debt recovery sector matured, it became apparent that Controlaccount needed to respond to the emerging needs of its clients and their customers. Specifically required was a shift towards digital interaction and automation, to enable clients to process high volumes and work accurately and efficiently. The business began to evolve, working more collaboratively to enable clients to improve performance, increase profit and provide engaging customer experiences.
In 2013, Controlaccount demonstrated its technology credentials with the launch of Cogenda and ClientWeb. These are a debt recovery ‘engine’ and an online real-time portal where creditors can communicate and manage activity, such as uploading and updating new accounts. These industry-leading platforms are still used today.
In the same year, by delivering bespoke customer relationship management builds, web-based applications and software solutions, Controlaccount began to move away from a single service debt recovery model to become a comprehensive business process outsourcing provider. This dovetailed into the provision of operational standalone services such as white labelled multi-channel communication centres, branded mailings and advanced credit control functions.
By 2018, through its UK call centres and branded mailing facilities, Controlaccount had become a fully-fledged business process outsourcing company offering over fifty services. These included IT and application solutions, financial, marketing and back-office support, plus all forms of debt recovery, credit control and operation solutions. In addition, Controlaccount developed other brands within their family, including the identeco - Business Support Toolkit. This online data portal delivers full business insights and financial reporting. The current Controlaccount offer also includes identecoHR; an innovative HR and time management tool which enables businesses to perform all their human resources functions from one database.
As the impact of Covid-19 ripples through the global economy, David Harvey, Controlaccount’s Managing Director and the driving force of the business’s new direction, believes that offering a diverse range of services to support clients will hold the organisation in good stead.
“Sadly, many businesses will not survive the pandemic. So, whilst forbearance and understanding play a part, companies must focus on having a robust collection process in place. Now is also the time when businesses need to review their model to streamline operations, increase productivity and continue to implement new ideas. Our outsourced services; whether delivered ad-hoc or on a longer-term basis, provide organisations with the ability to deal with the unexpected.”
This article appeared in Credit Management magazine in September 2020. For more information on how Controlaccount can help your business, please get in contact via email or telephone 01527 549 522.