Since the last two big economic downturns in the Uk (the industry led "Thatcher" recession of 1979/81 and the consumer led "ERM" recession of the early nineties,) the stable ,relatively calm economic waters have been good to UK credit managers.

Due largely to the computerisation of bulk credit data in the nineties, the barriers of entry into the credit information market have come down, and as a result, credit managers have more choice of agency at far lower prices.Some agencies offer very low prices based on the regurgitation of public record data from the CRO with an appended credit rating. And in the prevailing calm conditions in the last fifteen years, whatever agency was selected, the predictive qualites of credit reports were perceived by the market as "much of a muchness."

The predictive quality of credit reports didn’t even seem to be affected by the deterioration in the quality of financials filed at Companies House. As I write, 85% of accounts at CRO are abbreviated and unaudited. To make matters worse, criminals have read the disclaimer on the CRO website saying that accounts lodged there are received "in good faith" and are not validated or verified, and have bombarded Companies House with fictitious documents in order to perpetrate frauds.

The new breed of credit manager has been brought up on this diet, and many have no appreciation of what past generations of credit managers saw in their credit reports, unless of course they continue to use the services of traditional agencies like D&B, Graydon and Experian who still add trade payment data, edit trade magazines, and interview companies to add value to their products.

In turbulent times, a credit report must surely be more than a revamped Companies House image document with an automatic  rating attached? The low cost, no added value credit report has bloomed in "fair weather" conditions over recent years, but will it do the job in bleaker conditions like the ones we are facing now?

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