Upon publishing the results of the research on “European Payment Habits”, a round table was organized by the Economics Institute and the EOS Matrix Company. Research results generally showed the lack of discipline concerning the payment of debts, while the interviewees expressed concern that it is highly unlikely this trend will change in the following two years.
There is a major difference in payment habits between private and business users: private users adhere to the European average in settling their debts on time (79%), and they hold the European record in payment under short due dates. Business users, on the other hand, despite having practically longest payment terms in Europe (46 days), are still at the bottom of the list when it comes to timely performed payments (67%). Particularly poor payment habits are noticeable in the marketing sector.
When clients exceed the payment terms, companies must wait for another 50 days on average for collection, which is by far the longest in Europe (21 days).
The interviewees stated that the most common consequences of poor payment habits are investment delay (22%) and liquidity problems (19%). Contrary to the European companies which demonstrate a positive trend in hiring external service providers (44%) and express content cooperating with them, Serbian companies hire external partners only in 17% of the cases, which is by far the lowest percentage in Europe.
General Manager of EOS Matrix, Jelena Jović Milentijević, stated that the main reason of all unpaid receivables throughout the whole research is that the companies are not knowledgeable enough in the area of receivables management and its importance for the company’s liquidity. She considers it crucial for each company to monitor their financial stability, as well the stability of their clients, in order to react instantly and readily if stability is being jeopardized.
“Our general recommendation for all companies in Serbia is to attach special importance to the improvement of receivables management process, monitoring clients liquidity even prior to issuing invoices, as well as passively monitoring their liquidity while the payment is still not due. We recommend this to be performed on daily basis” - said Jović Milentijević.
She emphasized that, on the day when the payment is due, if it is not paid, companies should contact the client to determine the reasons for this, and as she said there are two main reasons: first one is the client’s negligence, and the other far more significant reason is the client’s illiquidity.
This event was opened by the Director of the Economics Institute, Dragan Šagovnović. Making an introduction to the research results, Ivan Nikolić, PhD, Director of Research and Development Center at the Economics Institute, firstly analyzed the problem of illiquidity, which is, in his opinion, an acute and structural problem in Serbia. Topics such as the influence of payment habits on the economic trends and cash flow, the business environment of companies operating in Serbia, the impact of this practice on foreign investments and the competitiveness of the Serbian companies in foreign trade exchange were discussed by: Miroslav Miletić, Vice President of Serbian Chamber of Commerce; Jasna Smiljanić, Director of Accounting in MTS Company and Miloš Panjković, General Manager of Perutnina Ptuj Company.