Risks Related to Business
The following report on “Risks Related to Business” details major potential risks to the Group’s operations based on our assumptions and views as of the submission date of the securities report (June 24, 2021).
However, the risks described below may not cover all potential risks. Moreover, as there may be new risks arising from various uncertain factors such as future changes in economic and environmental conditions affecting the consumer credit market, from the viewpoint of prompt and timely disclosure to the investors, we disclose what may not be such risk factors but we believe are important for the investors in making their investment-related decisions. The forward-looking statements included in the following description are based on our assumptions and views as of the submission date of the securities report (June 24, 2021).
There is risk of further economic downturn within and outside Japan, due to the impact of the spread of COVID-19 infection. The Company Group may be affected by the items listed below.
- Temporary closure of manned branches, reductions in the operating hours of automatic contract machines and some operations based on reviews of operating days and operating hours at call centers, etc.; as well as decreases in the balances of the loan and credit card business and the guarantee business and operating revenue, attributable to the decline in the demand for funds mainly associated with voluntary restrictions in customer activities outside of the home.
- Increased bad debts expenses caused by a deteriorated loan portfolio mainly attributable to decreased customer income.
- Financial results
The business performance of the Group may be influenced by changes, fluctuations and modifications –and the degree of these– in the each of the items 1) to 9) listed below.
- 1) Increase or decrease in number of customer accounts and average loan balance per customer account
- 2) Changes in judicial rulings and legal regulations applicable to the consumer finance industry
- 3) Changes in average contracted interest rates received from customers
- 4) Changes in number of requests for interest repayment, as well as amounts we will pay, in the loan business
- 5) Competition with other companies
- 6) Rate of default by customers
- 7) The Company’s ability to procure funds and costs involved
- 8) Cost levels for advertising expenses, personnel expenses, and other expenses
- 9) Occurrence of large-scale accidents and disasters
- Allowance for doubtful accounts
Accounts receivable - operating loans, accounts receivable - installment and right to reimbursement constitute the majority of total assets of the Group. For this reason, we book allowance for doubtful accounts, based on the conditions of customers and other elements at the end of the fiscal year.
An increase of payment delays and uncollected loans receivable might occur as a result of potential future changes in economic conditions, the market environment, and the social structure in Japan as well as increases in the number of individuals (including loan customers of the Group) pursuing remedies under legal guardianship pursuant to revisions in legislation, including “Bankruptcy Act,” “Act on Special Conciliation,” “Civil Rehabilitation Act,” and “Judicial Scrivener Act.” Such events may require further increases in the allowance for doubtful accounts, which may have a negative effect on the business performance of the Group.
- Addressing issues concerning multiple debtors
The Group addresses the issues concerning multiple debtors, who take out excessive loans or credit-card loans from multiple consumer credit companies, mainly by ways of “promoting consumer enlightenment activities,” “improvement of counseling functions for consumer loan customers,” “implementation of more rigorous credit administration,” “reduction in maximum lending interest rate,” “review of the content of advertisement.”
Nevertheless, business performance of the Group may be negatively influenced in cases where the number of multiple debtors increases due to factors such as economic, employment, and market conditions in Japan or other external factors, which leads to an increase in the allowance for doubtful accounts due to increase in uncollectible loans.
- Guarantee business
In the guarantee business, the Company and MU Credit Guarantee Co., LTD. took measures to enhance partnerships with existing partners and continued appropriate screening. The Company also provided the results of analysis about loan portfolio and the effect of advertisement, and provided various support for existing partners with a view to enhancing their business results and stabilizing their growth. Nevertheless, business performance of the Company and MU Credit Guarantee Co., LTD. may be negatively influenced in cases where regulations on bank card loans become stringent in the future, etc.
- Information systems
The Group relies on computer systems and networks to manage data on our store network and customers, etc. , in order to provide services to customers and to manage our marketing activities. In case our service for customers are hindered by factors such as damage to the communications infrastructure, the hardware, or the software used for these systems and networks resulting from human error, natural disasters, power outages, computer viruses, etc. or the suspension of support services provided by telecommunications carriers or computer systems companies, it may potentially impact on the performance of the Group. For example, it may result in a decline in new customers, delays in the repayment of loans, and a loss of trust in the Group.
In addition, the Group has a backup center for general ledger system, in order to avoid the possibility of business interruptions. However, it is possible that the Group’s business may be suspended in the event of a large scale natural disaster, such as earthquake or flood.
- Management of personal information
The Group, including the Company and its main subsidiaries, are now regarded as businesses handling personal information as defined by the “Act on the Protection of Personal Information.”
In the management of personal information, we have ensured management and control structure under “Policy for Protection of Personal Information” and “Regulation for Protection of Personal Information.” The Company was granted the Privacy Mark authorized by Japan Institute for Promotion of Digital Economy and Community (JIPDEC).
As for the management of Computer Center, we have formulated rigorous safety measures for physical security, including controls on entering and leaving the Computer Center, and for information security, such as controlling access to computer systems.
Nonetheless, if personal information is leaked to a third party for any reason whatsoever, the negative effects may not be limited to a worsening of business performance arising from a decline in the reputation of the Group or compensation for damages. In the case of a violation of regulations concerning the handling of personal information, the Group may be also subjected to administrative recommendations, and orders.
- Status of interest repayment
The interest rates charged on some loan products by the Company, in which customers entered into contracts before June 17, 2007, exceed the interest rate ceilings specified in the Interest Rate Restriction Act.
Although the interest exceeding the interest ceilings specified in the Interest Rate Restriction Act is stipulated to be invalid, before the revised Money Lending Business Act was fully reinforced on June 18, 2010, it was determined under the Interest Rate Restriction Act that debtors who had voluntarily paid said excessive interest could not request for interest reimbursement. In addition, Article 13 of the supplementary provisions of the Money Lending Business Act before its full enforcement stipulated that such payment of interest exceeding the interest ceilings could be deemed an effective interest repayment under the condition that certain requirements be satisfied.
However, the verdict handed down by the Supreme Court on January 13, 2006, stated that in the case of a delayed repayment of the agreed interest, to which a contractual clause of “forfeiture of benefit of time” was attached, said payment of the interest exceeding the interest ceilings could be considered enforced without satisfying the “deemed repayment requirements,” which need specific voluntariness in payment. Consequently, by reason of the above verdict of the Supreme Court, several consumers have taken legal action against consumer finance companies, calling for a reimbursement of payments made, in some recent court precedents, the plaintiffs’ demands were accepted.
In case our customers request a reduction in the loan amount or reimbursement of excess interest paid, the Company may accept to write off such loan or reimburse payments. Though the costs of write-off and reimbursing repayments (hereinafter referred to as “loss on interest repayment”) have steadily decreased, close attention should be paid to the number of requests for interest repayment. Future potential for loss on interest repayment, further booking of the provision for loss on interest repayment, and court rulings from lawsuits demanding refunds of interest paid that put the Company and other money lenders at a clear disadvantage, could have an impact on the Company’s business performance.
- Fund procurement
The Group secures the necessary funds for its operations and liabilities repayments through financing activities such as borrowings from financial institutions, etc. and direct financing from capital markets, including via bond issues.
While the Group has steadily diversified its funding resources in recent years, there is no assurance that its existing main banks and lenders will not change their current lending policy due to a potential reorganization of the financial industry or other factors. Furthermore, there is no assurance that capital markets will always be available as a reliable financing resource in the future.
There is the possibility that our ability to procure funds may decrease due to changes in credit rating. In that case, the financial expenses might increase and the amount of funding may be restricted. As a result, it may have a negative impact on our business performance in the future.
To date, the Group has stepped up its entry into new markets and broadened the scale of its involvement in the consumer credit market, including through the formation of joint ventures. The prospect of potential profits obtained from such investments is uncertain and not all of the Groups’ new joint businesses or expansion is necessarily successful. Although the Group regularly reviews the profitability and growth potential of each business, possibilities still remain that such reviews may prompt us withdraw from new joint businesses or reduce allocation of human and other resources to such businesses in the future. In the case where a joint business falls short of its profit target, there is a risk that the Group may not be able to recoup its existing investments.
- Business and capital alliance with MUFG
In March 2004, we entered into a strategic business and capital alliance with MUFG. MUFG later raised its stake in the Company, and after completing the necessary procedures, the Company became a consolidated subsidiary of MUFG in December 2008. This means that if laws and regulations governing banks, such as the Banking Act, are changed, Group companies may become subject to restrictions concerning the business fields in which they operate.
- Disposal of our shares by major shareholders, etc.
MUFG and the MUFG Group hold around 40% of our issued/outstanding shares. In addition, Shigeyoshi Kinoshita, our Chairman, President & CEO, along with members of his families and affiliated companies together, holds around 40% of our issued/outstanding shares. If these shareholders dispose of some of their shares in the future, the market supply of our shares will increase, and this may have an impact on our share price.
- Accidents and disasters , etc.
Although we endeavor to verify and improve various measures to cope with the occurrence of accidents and disasters due to external factors including natural disasters such as large-scale earthquakes, wind and flood damage and pandemic, the occurrence of these phenomena could have a negative effect on the business performance of the Group attributable to damage to our store and facilities and/or physical damage to employees or customers.
ACOM establishes a system for risk management in accordance with its Basic Policy of Establishing Internal Control System. The Corporate Risk Committee, based on authority bestowed upon it by the Executive Officers' Meeting, discusses and approves the status of improvement of the Company's risk management approach, the matters related to risk management priority measures and other important items related to risk management, such as evaluations of risks. As necessary, it participates in Executive Officers' Meetings and Board of Directors Meeting and makes proposals and reports.
Corporate Governance and Internal Control System Structure (As of June 23, 2021)
Business Continuity Plan (BCP)
The Acom Group has formulated BCP to ensure the safety of employees and their families in the event of natural disasters such as large-scale earthquakes, the spread of infectious diseases, terrorist attacks and other crisis events, while ensuring that significant business operations are not interrupted or, if interrupted, that they are resumed as swiftly as possible.
As specific activities, we have established two business locations, prepared a crisis management manual and stockpiled food and drinking water to minimize economic losses and loss of credibility.
In addition, we conduct evacuation drills and safety confirmation drills, and once a year we conduct a joint business continuity drill with the MUFG Group to promote cooperation among the Group companies.