Opinion – Suppliers are not your personal bankers

As a daughter of a SME owner, supply chain financing issue is very close to my heart.
The lack of cash in a recurrence theme in the SME business operational. One might have a strong revenue growth, but it could takes months for the clients to pay their invoices and it can put a lot of strains in the company cash flow.

I could feel the frustration, how one has to find the delicate balance of reminding clients without sounding too upset and setting boundaries.

One of the solutions that the bankers proposed was supply chain financing, where a third party provides suppliers with access to advantageous financing facilities by leveraging the buyer’s stronger credit ratings. When I first learnt about it I was fooled by the big words. In a nutshell it translates to let me punish the suppliers by discounting the invoices for wanting to be paid on reasonable timeline.

The practice of supply chain financing caused numerous abuse of power by the big companies, e.g. T*lstra, R*o T*nto, C*M*C.  Payment terms were often pushed, pressuring the suppliers to take the discounted invoice. If you want your money within 30 days, you have to go to a third party who will take a fraction of it. Otherwise your only option is to wait for months.

I would like to applaud the Australian media for bringing the issue to our attention. The coverages starting from last year force the regulatory authorities to try and protect the interest of small suppliers. The ASBFEO created its Supply Chain Finance Review Final Report which triggered the Australian government to introduce the  payment times reporting scheme.  A new mandatory reporting requirement for large businesses and certain Commonwealth government entities to disclose their payment terms and practices with small business suppliers. It’s a start, hopefully other countries will  soon follow. Although I am pessimistic  that one can address this problem in my home country, Indonesia.

I have skin in the game. A few years ago, in an attempt to further increase my understanding in the reverse factoring. I applied for a graduate position at  Gre*ns*ll. You know, keep your friends close and your enemies closer.  I managed an interview but I didn’t get the job. But as luck would have it, the next job that I got provided me with  the exposure to them. My last project with a national newspaper that will be published this month, includes the Gre*ns*ll brothers.

The fall of Gre*ns*ll was not surprising, there were plenty red flags if one cared to look beyond the surface. They went further on their practice of “reverse factoring” by securitizations. Bundled the receivables, packaging them into financial products and sold it to investors for funding. Ring a bell? I guessed we didn’t learn much from housing collapse in the GFC after all. They also had taken on some highly indebted customers. The sell of private jets to prepare itself to raise fresh capital and the talk of IPO were the signs of distress and cry for help.

To our big companies, please remember that suppliers are not your personal bankers.  Yes it is not classified as debt, yes it will make your balance sheet looks pretty.  Yes supply chain  financing could make it looks like you have  lower levels of leverage.

Creative accountings and elaborate financing schemes might be able to impress people but remember that you might fall to your own trap and fooling yourself. Convincing yourself that everything is okay when you know deep down that you are in deep shit.

I guess my mum was right after all, don’t be deceived by the pretty packaging.  

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For related article about reverse factoring see my article on Memenuhi Kewajiban tanpa tapi tapi.

 

ALAS! Broken Scale

For the last 2 months, I’ve become more aware of what I eat and tried to create a better life style with work out routine and meditation. So I checked myself on the scale and saw that I lost 6kg! But then I had a group photo on my workout clothes and I didn’t think I lost weight at all. I had a suspicion that my scale was broken.

I was right! The scale was broken. My weight was still the same as a year ago! I was devastated but I am ready to evaluate and improve my current action plans. I aim for 0.5-1kg weight loss per week. 3 kg per month for the next 3 months. If I can manage that, I’ll be freaking hot!!

Challenge accepted. I’ll update and brag about my success in 3 months.

WISH ME LUCK!!

Aluminium Pot thief

Hello, it’s been a while. My boss told me to take a week off and now I don’t know what to do with my free time. I was working my ass off for the past couple weeks and I enjoyed it. Mainly because my mind was so occupied that it left no time and energy to care about important things in life.

I am a worrier, my mind tends to wander around, questioning my actions, evaluating my life decision and I feel reluctant to face those issues. So here I am doing what I do best, procrastinate!

Aluminium Pot Thief

Few days ago my sister told me that there was an intruder in our family house. He was caught on CCTV climbing the fence and stealing our pots and aluminium pans. I don’t know whether I have to laugh or cry. I was and still am worried about my family safety. I felt a bit relief that the thief didn’t break into our house, he grabbed the pots and pans from our outdoor kitchen and ran.

The Covid restrictions affect many people. The economy was hurting and I can feel the pain. Starvation can cause person to take a desperate measure. My dad once told me a story of where he witnessed the people in our community caught a bag thief. The thief was badly beaten by bystanders, covered with bloods, back and blue. When he was apprehended, he begged for some rice, he was so starving that he didn’t care when his blood was dripping to the plate and mixed with the food. Everyone felt bad afterwards. Going back to the story of our aluminium pot stealer, I forgive him but please don’t try it again. I take my family safety seriously. As a family we always try to help the community, instead of climbing our fence, try knocking our door and you’ll be surprised, maybe there is something we can do.

To everyone, hang in there. After all we’ve endured, I refuse to be beaten.

Please be kind .

New obsession : Fanfic

Recently I’ve become obsessed with fanfictions. At first, I started reading it because I needed an escape from reality. I was not in the best state of mind and reading fanfiction reminded me of the safety environment of childhood. But now it become a habit. Everyday I spent hours browsing, I actually ran out of materials. Like an addict, I struggled to restrain myself, I know that this needs to stop.

Why do I keep doing it? I guess the root of the problem is avoidance. I was scared and anxious of the future. Instead of facing my fears with resilient and rational mind, I run away. Burying my head in the sand. Einstein said insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. I am done with self pity, moping around and feeling desperate.

Proactive, resilient and cunning!

Dear myself, use your brain and channel your inner Slytherin. you are allowed to read fanfiction, but on a healthy dose. I will thrive.

One step back but hopefully two step forward

Something happened.

My inability to mitigate it hurts me significantly.

I cried a bit, slightly disappointed for the loss.

Frankly I am embarrassed to ask for help.

Yeah, my ego is that big.

hopefully in the grand scheme of things, this is just a step back.

I won’t forget the lesson

I’ll come out of it as a stronger person.

I document this moment as a bitter sweet reminder of the harsh reality of life

Dear myself, this is not the end.

Turning a quarter of a century old

Happy birthday to me!

I started my day by waking up at 3 am

I lit myself a candle and I prayed for strength and wisdom.

A picnic with my friend in the park,

a stroll along the river accompanied by ice cream.

A quick chat with my sister and opening a birthday present from my best friend in Indonesia

Thank you.

My emotions were all over the place, but it ended with a happy note,

A pursuit of peace of mind

A few years ago, a friend asked me what do I want to pray for. At that moment I dug deep and found an answer. I said, “I want a peace of mind”. My desire remains prevalent as I grow older. That was my epiphany. I am often restless at night worrying about future, feeling content is a luxury.

I tied my happiness on my achievements.

“I’ll be happy when I get promoted. “

“I’ll be happy after I win “, etc,

It is conditional. The drawback of this is those things only happen a few times in a year. I was happy 2-3 days out of 356, the rest of the time I was miserable.

I need to fix this, I need to find a way to find happiness in small things. Frankly I am still having trouble imagining it. The concept sounds extremely foreign to me.

Like, why should I be happy when I finish learning a song in piano? Why?

Why should I be happy on menial things. Well I guess that is my next challenge.

Find things to be happy for, and maybe read those cliche happiness books that I look down when people post them on social media.

ALAS! I should stop being so condescending. You know what, next post will be about small things that make me happy. I can’t think of any at the moment and yes.. that is so sad.

I’ll keep you posted. Wish me luck.

Aku Bermimpi Menjadi Peng-Peng di Republik Banana

Book review: My very own Ghost of Christmas Future

F

I was following on Djoko Tjandra’s case on the news when I stumbled on Kwik Kian Gie (KKG) and his previous remarks regarding Indonesian banking system. His comments before Indonesia financial crisis in 98, Century Bank scandal along with BNI loan fraud.

I was shamed to admit that it took me this long to read up on him and the relevance history given my passion in economics. Although in my defence, I was still a baby in the late 90s. Anyway, in my attempt to make it up, I found his book that hit too close to home. Aku Bermimpi Menjadi Peng-Peng di Republik Banana.

I felt like I was in a Christmas Carol movie, with Kwik Kian Gie as the spirit of Chirstmas yet to come. Blame my imaginative mind!

I aspire to be a businesswoman in the long run, I know exactly which area that I want to enter and I’ve expressed my interest with my parents. As for now I am in the process of accumulating knowledge, experience, capital and network.

Just like Dumbledore who was afraid of himself if given the power to rule the wizarding world, to some extend I was afraid of who I would become if greed gets the best of me. I’ve mention it briefly on “Memenuhi Kewajiban Tanpa tapi tapi” , from my observations and experience it was so easy to manipulate the systems to work to your advantage regardless the negative impacts on others. Whether it’s delaying payment to suppliers to better one cashflow or exploiting financial regulations to con plebeians.

It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there.

The more that I learn how things work the more tempting it become to find the loopholes and abuse it just because I can. Damn my inflated ego! An astute entrepreneur needs that cleverness to survive but it is hard to control oneself once you start thinking in that mindset.

The book gave some examples on how the crooks did it successfully in “Republik Banana”. Obviously for legal purposes, all characters and other entities appearing in book are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, dead or alive, or other real-life entities, past or present, is purely “coincidental”, but if you clever enough you can put two and two together and find out which events he was referring to.

The scene where KKG come to a dream and questioned the businessman past decisions was a classic Christmas Carol. KKG lectures on ethical principles in business work as my guide when in doubt. I feel like if my thirst for power and money start to sway me, I could ask myself: “what would the great Kwik Kian Gie say” and hope that my upbringing and love for others will be enough to put me back to the right path.

I am back!! with a new lease on life

I was feeling depressed for the past few months, uncertainty was haunting me. I didn’t know how things will fit in to my life plans.

Well I still don’t but I find a desire to live!! I feel alive.

Oh, how happy I am. I was seeing therapists before because I was tired of life and to finally have it back was a blessing.

I am not a religious person, but I will pray and give my thanks to god.

Now I begin to formulate my new game plans. Strategic thinking and all of that.

You know what trigger it? my love for my family.

I read an article about a son losing his father’s company to a group of  bad people, call it mafia but on larger scale. I was imagining the pain of losing your parents’ legacy. All of those blood, sweat and tears. I was interested on his story case because of the economics aspects. It reminds me of my passion, why I went to Australia and US in the first place. My previous ambitions.

I have to be strong and resilient

Get ready for me!

Btw, my new perspective gave me an epiphany. Ending my relationship was the right decision. I wouldn’t be able to be the person that I desire otherwise.

Wish me luck. I will be back with more news to share.