Warren Buffet has a saying that goes as follows…
“You never know who is swimming naked until the tide goes out”.
This past week there have been two major businesses who have been exposed as having been “swimming naked”. The major blow up was the investment manager Bernard Madoff, founder of Bernard L. Madoff Investments Securities LLC, to the tune of $50 billion. The other scandal was the lawyer Marc Dreier in New York for $280 million.
Both of these individuals were assumed to be the pillars of their profession and financially secure. In fact, both were big frauds waiting to be exposed. It was only after the financial stress of the past year caught up to them that the world discovered the truth. More to the point the only reason you heard about them is because they were large enough to make it in the Wall Street Journal.
The real question going through your mind should not be about what they did or how they did it. But, instead you should be asking yourself is either:
Who in your community is doing the same thing or something similar?
Or who is swimming naked in your business community?
Often, what we see of people or businesses is only surface deep. I have know several individuals and companies over the years who appear successful on the surface but in reality they don’t have the financial strength to weather a shock to their systems. As this recession takes hold across the country we are going to see who has been fiscally conservative and who has been living on the edge.
As a business owner or CFO you need to be concerned about which receivable is going to be uncollectible. You can rest assured that somewhere in your accounts receivable ledger there is a bad debt that has not been exposed. Now is the time to tighten up your underwriting requirements and collect your old receivables.