Debt recovery and credit management is an industry few want to tango with on a personal level, however, Hoist Finance CEO Per Anders Fasth’s take highlights its importance in society. “Our industry plays a very important part in the financial and economic system. The value that our credit management companies create for societies is significantly higher and more sophisticated than people think,” he says.
While he notes people do not come to Hoist because they want to, it can be the start of their journey back to normality on a financial level. “If you have a lot of debt, you cannot borrow money. You cannot pay. You cannot get a credit card. You’re doomed to cash society, in a sense,” he explains. “If we can help people get back on track and repay their debt, then they can have all the same possibilities and opportunities as those without overdue debt.”
While Hoist works closely with customers, its key suppliers are banks. “It’s an interesting company and industry because we help both banks and consumers get back in the financial ecosystem,” Per Anders says. “This makes us an important part in economic growth, because banks can keep interest rates at a lower level and continue to finance both people and smaller corporations.”
One of the leading debt management companies in Europe, Hoist purchases both performing and non-performing loans from its partners – a combination of international banks and financial institutions.
Founded in 1994, the company received approval from the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority under the new credit company regulations in 1996. It has operated under the Hoist Finance brand since 2012 and was listed on Nasdaq Stockholm in 2015. In 2018, its subsidiary Hoist Kredit merged with Hoist Finance. Today, it operates in 13 European countries and has around 1,600 employees.
Be transparent, open, fact-based and treat people with respect – but also have high requirements on people delivering.
Per Anders’ appointment to the board and as CEO last year is in no small part due to his extensive experience in the banking sector. He’s held various executive positions with major banks and done stints as a consultant with well-known firms, including McKinsey & Company. He’s also acted as Chair on a number of boards for prestigious financial institutions, and is currently Chair of Lyra Financial Wealth and FundedByMe/Pepins as well as a board member of TBC Bank Group (Georgia and UK) and Atle Investment Management.
Per Anders says, for him, the appeal of the role with Hoist was the opportunity to spearhead change in both the strategic direction and the focus of the company. His interest was further bolstered by the potential he saw in the skills and experience of the people and the platform itself, all wrapped up in a company with a solid basis in an attractive industry.
“I know the industry and the company itself despite only being with them for a relatively short time. I’ve also had a lot of experience with restructuring,” he says, adding that this experience is especially pertinent given the transformation on the cards.
Per Anders’ future with Hoist is laser-focused on deploying a significant growth plan, which he says will play alongside reducing costs, which are currently high. “There have been less growth opportunities than there were two years ago, likely due to COVID-19. Money is quite cheap today. So, a lot of our competitors can also finance,” he explains.
This creates competitive pressure as companies push to acquire portfolios and grow, meaning portfolio purchases are driven up. Per Anders says the challenge is to not get carried away and pay too much for those acquisitions. “If you look at the industry historically, that sometimes happens – people get so anxious about acquiring that they acquire things they later realise they paid too much for.”
Understandably, maintaining good partnerships is also vital to securing portfolios. While Hoist takes over the management of a debt, Per Anders explains the bank or institution that originally held it will often still have a relationship with the customer, making it essential Hoist treats these customers well, lest it hurt the customer relationship with the bank.
“It is important they trust us. That we treat their customers fairly and in a professional way. That’s how we ensure we also can do business with these banks going forward,” he insists.
Hoist has worked hard to find ways to communicate with customers outside the old-fashioned methods of sending letters or making phone calls, and the company has created ahead-of-the curve digital solutions. One of these solutions is the self-service portal, which allows people to set up repayment plans themselves – with guidance on offer as required.
“People can create their own payment plans, find a repayment plan that is affordable for them, so they can live and still keep on with their normal life,” Per Anders says. He describes it as a win–win: a good service for Hoist’s customers, and a more cost-effective and efficient way for the company to communicate and handle accounts.
As for his own communications, Per Anders’ philosophy is straightforward. “Be transparent, open, fact-based and treat people with respect – but also have high requirements on people delivering. Let’s say it’s challenging but supportive.” Sounds like he is just the man you’d want to help you out of a financially sticky situation.