Finally, a piece of good news for Singapore, one of the first few countries to slip into technical recession since the financial crisis. There are signs of a new burgeoning industry in the works, i.e. debt collection. One wonders if Singapore is fast becoming the regional hub for companies involved in such activities. According to debt-collection company, Oagents who used to only cover the Singapore and Malaysia markets, their employees are chalking up a lot more air-miles as they chase down debtors to far-flung regions such as China and the United States.
In a separate incident, the Development Bank of Singapore (DBS) has announced retrenchment of an estimated 900 staff from its Singapore and HK offices. One suggests that the retrenched staff of DBS seek greener pastures in the new growth area of debt collection. There is really no difference between working in a financial institition vs. working in a debt collection agency.
While the debt collection industry welcomes the move to expand employment, they have drawn the line at hiring workers from Singapore’s security forces, given that the security forces not been able to track down an escaped terrorist who is still lurking around in small Singapore since March 2008.
CIN’s NEWSDESK 🙂
Debt collectors report surge in business (Straits Times, 13 Nov 2008)
AS THE economy slows down, one particular form of business is picking up – debt collection.Agents in the trade say business has increased by at least 20 per cent this year, with some among them even travelling overseas for the job.
Mr Simon Lim, operations manager of Asian Debt Collection Services, said he has received an average of 18 calls a week from clients, up from the 10 calls he was getting during this time last year.
Another company, Oagents, is sending its people as far afield as China and the United States to chase down company debts that can run into the millions.
Mr Dylan Loi, one of Oagents’ directors, used to go only as far as Malaysia, but is logging a lot more air miles now.
Statistics from the Monetary Authority of Singapore show that debts have piled up. Total consumer loans stand at $112 billion as of August this year. This is up by about 12 per cent from August last year. The previous year-on-year increase was only 8 per cent.
In particular, credit card rollover balances have risen to $3.2 billion as of August, up from $2.8 billion a year ago and $2.6 billion in August 2006.
Collectors point to another trend – the dredging up of old debts from three to five years back. Said Mr Lim: ‘In good times, you can see the person every day but not chase him for money. In bad times, you will remember what he owed you from five years ago.’
With more cases, Mr Lim said his collectors have to step up their pace and visit one or two more households each week.
A 45-year-old debtor who declined to be named said he has felt the heat from debt collectors. Instead of a letter or phone call every month, the calls and SMS messages from banks came every other day. The father of two eventually turned to Credit Counselling Singapore to get his $50,000 debt restructured.