November 15 2005.
Equifax highlights the importance of business monitoring solutions in monitoring risk
Recent research from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) suggests that risk management remains low on the list of priorities for small businesses. With levels of business insolvency on the increase, Equifax plc, leading credit and business information provider, is warning that this makes small enterprises extremely vulnerable, yet there are a number of simple preventative measures that can be taken, easily and at little additional cost.
Neil Munroe, External Affairs Director, Equifax plc, explains, "The ICAEW research reveals that 39% and 41% of small and medium companies respectively spend less than 0.5% of company turnover on risk management. Although this figure varies from business to business, it shows that SMEs need to put risk management higher on their agenda. However, 51% believe spend on risk management will rise over the next two years.
"SMEs have a lot to lose if they don't put simple checking processes in place.  And the array of online tools available means they already have access to fast and efficient protection that is convenient and cost-effective."
Equifax Business Information Services provides a range of online checking and monitoring tools that are easy to access and cost-effective for small and medium businesses.  Utilising Equifax's extensive and accurate database of predictive information on nearly 4 million Limited Companies and Non-Limited Businesses, organisations can check customers, suppliers, competitors, other industries and new marketplaces. 
But checking an organisation at the outset of a relationship is only the first step.  Equifax places as much importance on on-going monitoring and the company has invested in a series of new product initiatives to give SMEs even more protection.
The Equifax Portfolio Monitoring service gives businesses with little time to devote to risk management the ability to keep an eye on the financial performance of key customers and suppliers  With 12 months of free alerts, SMEs have the reassurance that the accounts of key clients and partners are being monitored on an on-going basis, ensuring that their business is protected at all times.
A Portfolio Monitor alert will be triggered as new information is provided to Equifax, including a change to Registered Office, the appointment of new directors, a credit limit change, CCJ information and insolvency orders. All the information can be viewed on a daily basis and, because time is of the essence, an email alert service will inform subscribers of any changes within minutes of it being known to Equifax. 
Equifax has also launched its Shared Data Services, a powerful new tool that allows businesses to share critical information about customer payment behaviour.  With reduced availability of accounting information on companies making it harder for organisations to determine the immediate credit worthiness of customers, Equifax's Shared Data Services offer a flexible, dynamic and timely data sharing tool, enabling members of the Equifax credit community to share both negative and positive data on their customers.
Equifax members have access to vital information before they agree to new credit terms or accept orders.  And, using unique email alerts, the Service notifies subscribers when changes to their customers' credit or financial status has been registered by another member.
Neil Munroe concludes, "Risk management is a pertinent issue, which is why Equifax is supporting businesses with the development of a range of online services. SMEs should be taking a serious look at their risk management contingencies and harnessing the powerful new tools available to them online to protect their business."

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