Philip King, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Chartered Institute of Credit Management (CICM), has been appointed Interim Small Business Commissioner (SBC).

King will head the independent Office of the Small Business Commissioner (SBC) in Birmingham. It was launched in December 2017 to ensure fair payment practices for Britain’s small businesses and support them in resolving their payment disputes with larger businesses and bring about culture change. To date, it has recovered over £6.5m owed to small businesses.

Sue Chapple, who is currently the CICM’s Director of Strategic Relationships, will assume the role of interim CICM Chief Executive until a permanent successor is recruited.

King said “The CICM has worked tirelessly with government agencies to support small businesses and change attitudes to late payment. Whereas I am sad to be leaving the CICM after over fourteen years at the helm, that is tempered by the privilege of directly supporting the government industrial strategy and giving small businesses the support they need to prosper and grow.”

“Recognising the needs of all businesses both large and small is an essential part of resolving potential conflict and preventing issues from occurring in the first place,” he continues. “Poor behaviour should be identified and called out, and I would actively encourage small businesses to engage with the Commissioner’s office at the earliest opportunity if there is a problem, but it is important too that we highlight examples of best-practice to which others should aspire.”

Peter Whitmore, Chair of the CICM Executive Board, thanked King for his service “Philip has played a vital role in projecting the work of our professional members in enabling the success of their own businesses and supporting the wider business economy,” he said. “His appointment reflects the importance of keeping the cash flowing.”

“In his time leading the CICM, Philip has helped transform the Institute to achieve Chartered status and elevate the critical importance of best-practice credit management and professional credit managers in the minds of government and other key influencers, including the media. We wish him well.”

The Small Business Commissioner and his team are tasked with providing general advice and information to small businesses on matters such as resolving payment disputes, including signposting them to existing support and dispute resolution services, which will be delivered through the commissioner’s website. His priorities reflect his expertise in professional credit management, not only understanding the need for positive cashflow and getting the basics right, but also understanding the challenges of all businesses in the supply chain.

Small Business Minister Kelly Tolhurst said “In Philip, small businesses will have a real champion with a proven track record of tackling late payments. This is an important time for the Office of the Small Business Commissioner as we seek to strengthen its powers and Philip is absolutely the right person to lead it at this time.”

In a career spanning 40 years, King has held senior credit management roles in the high-tech and communication sectors, in distribution and retail, including spells at Olivetti and Vodafone. He was appointed Director General of the ICM in 2005, and later Chief Executive, and was behind the Institute’s drive to become a Chartered body (to become the CICM) in 2015. As the architect of the Prompt Payment Code, and author of the Managing Cashflow Guides, King has worked closely with successive governments in championing best-practice credit management and supporting small business.

Under his leadership, the CICM launched its now well-established Quality in Credit Management programme (now re-styled as CICMQ), accredited the first CICMQ Centres of Excellence and revitalised its commercial and communication operations. This has included introducing a new Corporate Partnerships model, creating Learning Partnerships, and relaunching its Credit Managementmagazine. He is also an active champion of Apprenticeships and the globally recognised CICM Qualifications, and in 2016 completed a strategic review culminating in the publication of ‘Tomorrow’s CICM’.

The government will shortly recruit for a permanent SBC and has committed to strengthening the powers of the Small Business Commissioner to hold to account the minority of larger businesses who fail to make payments on time. New powers could include compelling information and disclosure of payment terms and practices, imposing financial penalties or binding payment plans on large businesses found to have unfair payment practices.

Commenting on the appointment, Rob Straathof, CEO at Liberis Finance,  said “We wholeheartedly welcome Philip King’s appointment as the interim Small Business Commissioner and especially his passion for giving small businesses the tools and support they need to thrive. His work with the Chartered Institute of Credit Management and the Prompt Payment Code means he understands the importance of funding and cashflow, and we look forward to an opportunity to work with him and his team to help promote industry best practice and champion the needs of small businesses.”