The International Credit Brokers Alliance (ICBA) is the world’s largest independent broker group with 590 specialist brokers in 70 offices located in 46 countries. Services include trade credit insurance, global debt recovery, information reports, bonding and sureties and receivable finance and factoring. In this article, the first of three, we talk to Emmanuel Portier, founder of The ICBA.
Q: What does The ICBA stand for?
Portier: We are positive disruptors, facilitators of change. Previously brokers were purely domestic or belonged to small networks. 20 years ago the powerhouses of trade were the five big European countries. Today the biggest trade footprint is in Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe, where we have significant on-the-ground presence. Our broker partners are the top ranking in their own country, more often than not the business owner. Because we eschew bureaucracy our partners are agile, working together to service a client’s needs, analysing the local markets they are looking to trade in with accuracy and speed. We join the dots for international trade.
Q: Why use a broker for international trade?
Portier: Brokers, especially those working as a team with other brokers in different countries, have a complete view of what’s available in the market worldwide – on a country by country basis. This includes trade credit insurance, local market research, payment performance indicators and trading conditions. ICBA clients welcome the human element, notably the fact they can talk to someone in their own language – not a software platform – and make sound decisions as a consequence.
Clients can connect to ICBA brokers in territories they already trade in but which are experiencing challenges, for example non-payment of debt. Within minutes they can instruct the ICBA broker to collect the debt knowing that a local, experienced contact is more likely to be successful than a provider collecting remotely. A client may require up-to-date market research on client payment performance or new market opportunities. ICBA brokers are swift to respond with information, facts and outcomes.
ICBA brokers do not have the bias of belonging to a parent company, with a certain view and conception of the market. There is no requirement to sell the products of their parent group, or to spend time on internal reporting. They are foot soldiers, focused on clients’ needs with rich and valuable knowledge of markets and trading conditions, honed over many years. They are the best in their territory which is why they’ve been hand selected.
ICBA brokers provide independent advice and knowledge to the highest standard all over the world; one ICBA broker linking with another to further the client’s best interests and to help them achieve their trading objectives, facilitating growth and significantly reducing the potential for risk.
Q: Is there an ideal client for The ICBA?
Portier: Clients don’t just want to save costs. They focus on getting a ‘cost and wording’ audit from experts of their existing policy wording, or on developing new products and services to give them a competitive advantage and to open up new trading opportunities. They demand greater insight and support when trading in challenging markets with a greater degree of payment certainty as well as payment protection in the event of payment default. We take immense pride in providing practical solutions for complex business situations and we ensure that the policy placed meets their needs.
Q: Why is the presence of the ICBA in emerging markets such as the Middle East and Asia so important for clients?
Portier: These regions present significant trading opportunities for businesses. But what can hold a business back from making the decision to trade is a lack of meaningful local knowledge. The ICBA broker partner in these regions speaks the language and understands the economy. They are best placed to provide accurate and up-to-date intelligence for clients. On the strength of this clients can make informed decisions
Client satisfaction and achieving growth for clients in traditional and emerging territories are the only objectives of The ICBA.
On the ICBA website you can find and contact the broker partner in your territory.