Before GTCA signs up a new member, the applicant firm is thoroughly vetted and due diligence is undertaken on their business; as part of this process a visit to their offices is arranged. For this reason CBF’s Managing Director, Trevor Price, recently flew down to South Africa to visit one of the GTCA’s most recent recruits, Niche Credit Risk Solutions.
This trip was particularly involved because Niche Credit Risk Solutions has offices in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town, so Trevor undertook something of a tour of South Africa, visiting the team in each office, as well as meeting the directors of the four active credit insurance underwriters in the country.
Interestingly, the market in South Africa is quite different to the UK or Europe, in so far as only one of the global credit insurance underwriters – Coface – currently trades there. The largest market share, 70%, is held by Credit Guarantee Insurance Company, while Lombard boasts 18%, and Coface comes in third with 10%. In fourth place is a relatively new entrant, CIS, with 2%. The written premiums are around 1.3 billion Rand – which approximates to £72m at current exchange rates.
The country is entering an economically downturn, so credit insurance is of significant interest and the market is in a growth phase. Euler Hermes, global market leaders in credit insurance with 35% of the international market, is launching in South Africa in early 2015, and it is also rumoured that Atradius has also been evaluating the South African market recently.
“Niche Credit Risk Solutions is a lovely company with super people and an excellent reputation for technical service, advice and ethics,” explains Trevor. “Their business was established in 1991, and has steadily grown to become probably the largest independent credit insurance broker in South Africa.”
“And luckily for me Niche’s hospitality was just as impressive as its business dealings,” he continues. “In between meetings not only was I treated to a driving safari, but I also visited Nelson Mandela’s farm, a handmade pottery factory, the smallest church in the country, and a vineyard, amongst other things! It was a trip never to be forgotten!”