Welcome From the New CMA Board of Directors Chair, by Gent Culver, ICCE

Hello fellow credit professionals. As my tenure as CMA Chairman of the Board started on May 1, I would like to say that I am honored to serve you as Chairperson and look forward to this coming year that is going to be filled with challenges and opportunities for all of us. Just so you know a little about me, I have been in the Credit field for more than 40 years. I spent 20 years in commercial banking and the last 25 years as Senior Credit Manager, Global Credit and Collections for International Game Technology (IGT). I am located at our manufacturing facility in Reno, Nevada, and I have been involved with CMA for more than 20 years.

The commercial credit and collection industry has gone through some major changes over the past decade and they continue today. Advancement in technology, consolidations, down-sizing (doing more with less), a new generational workforce, and global expansion within our various industries have created challenges to all of us in being able to perform our job efficiently and effectively and to meet the everyday demands of our employer.

Our primary goal at CMA is to provide to you the resources, tools and training to meet these challenges. The various services/products we provide such as anscers, credit reporting solutions, lien filings, third-party collection services, industry group meetings, webinars, seminars such as CreditScape, and membership in NACM all play a vital role in helping you and your staff to become more proficient in your job. Proficiency will translate into a positive economic return to your employer.

As this year progresses, I encourage each of you to participate in your respective industry group to gain knowledge and to develop contacts that will provide valuable information that will benefit you and your company. Even if you’re in a group but don’t regularly attend meetings, I feel that the three-hour time investment provides me with real-time vital credit information that I can’t get anyplace else, from my peers in companies who share common customers with me. I also appreciate the “best practices” information I get out of the credit groups that have given me the tools to change several processes that my company uses for the better. Don’t stop there, continue to develop your knowledge of the profession by participating in the webinars and seminars offered by CMA and NACM. Knowledge is POWER.

If any of you have questions or ideas that you feel would be beneficial to CMA, please let me know. CMA is about you, our members. I can be reached at 775-448-0130 or via email at gent.culver@igt.com.

Thank you for reading this and I am looking forward to leading CMA’s Board of Directors over the next year and helping create programs that matter to our members.

Best Regards,

Gent Culver

My Take on Spring CreditScape (And a Big Thank You!!), by Tracy Rosenbach, CCE

I attended CMA’s Spring CreditScape at the Hyatt Regency in Garden Grove on April 12. Wow, what a great conference, which featured some amazing sessions and speakers. The day started off with the incomparable Wanda Borges, Esq., who led a discussion in hot legal topics in business credit. Ms. Borges answered questions from attendees covering such topics as bankruptcy, preference and credit card surcharges, all topics that clearly hit home with the attendees. Keynote speaker Dan Goldes showed us how to use influence to increase efficiency with influence skills. His interactive session really encouraged all of us to take a step back and practice different styles of influencing people on our fellow attendees before we bring them back to our offices to use them on both our coworkers and customers. The session was educational as well as fun. Next, Kim Howard, Director of Credit Western Region for Cemex, and Wanda Borges, discussed how to automate credit applications and customer onboarding, and the legal implications of doing so. During lunch, CMA had its Annual Meeting and Installation of Officers (which was my last “official” duty as chair of CMA to preside over).

In the afternoon attendees had the opportunity to meet with the vendors to help them learn how to improve efficiencies and reduce internal costs, by using services such as credit card transaction processing, UCCs, credit reporting, customer onboarding, cash application and more. The last session for the conference was a panel discussion (Alvin Moreno, Harold Fraizer, Brian Gausman, Claudia Lozano and Rohit Patel) on implementing efficiencies in the Cash-to-Cash cycle. I personally took several pages of notes that I plan to revisit and consider implementing some of the processes in my own credit department. The event was well worth my day out of the office to learn from the experiences of other credit professionals.

As I wind up my last blog as CMA Chairperson, I have to say that I can’t believe that a year has passed since I was introducing myself to you as chair in this blog last year. Time has just zipped by. I would like to take a moment to thank the very special people on the CMA staff including Diana Escobar, Alan Dicker, Terry Campos and Juliet Churchill for all of your assistance. These people have helped me tremendously through the past three years as Treasurer, Vice-Chair and Chairperson. Also, thank you to my great Executive Committee team (Melissa Kobus, Gent Culver and Pam Craik) for being engaged, interested and available, sometimes at a moment’s notice. And last but not least a big thank you to my boss, Brett Garnett, who has supported me through this journey.

I encourage all of you to get involved in CMA at whatever level you can do, whether it’s participating in an industry credit group, attending a webinar or seminar in person, or volunteering on the CMA Board of Directors. Your participation will only make the association stronger and benefit you (and your company) at the same time.

Best wishes to you all, and thanks again for everything,

Tracy Rosenbach
CMA Chairperson 2016/2017

Why You Shouldn’t Leave Managing Credit Risk to the “Luck of the Irish,” by Tracy Rosenbach, CCE

Being a good credit professional has nothing to do with luck. A solid credit professional is one who has invested in him or herself by taking classes and/or receiving an NACM certification; attending industry credit groups; and networking. The key in all of the above activities is getting as much information as possible. An effective credit manager should always strive to learn everything they can about one’s industry and profession, networking with as many credit professionals as possible to understand industry best practices, trends and tactics they can use to make their department run more smoothly (this is another under-rated and often overlooked benefit I get out of attending Group meetings as well).

On April 12, credit professionals will have the opportunity to attend CMA’s Spring CreditScape in Garden Grove, California. The goal of CreditScape is to provide an opportunity for credit practitioners with all levels of experience and expertise to come together to determine ways to reduce costs and create efficiencies in their credit departments. Some of the topics for the conference include:

  • The Influence Edge: Increasing Efficiency with Influence Skills
  • Where can you Increase Efficiencies in the Cash-to-Cash Cycle?
  • Creating efficiencies and cost-savings in the customer onboarding process; credit applications; credit information and portfolio management

Credit practitioners from companies such as Nestle, CED, Reliance Steel and Cemex, among others, will be talking about how they’ve seen process improvements in their businesses, and how they realized those improvements. In addition to the sessions, there will be Speed Networking: Tools to help Create Efficiency and Reduce Costs with CMA’s sponsors and a networking event so you can get to know other credit professionals, along with workshop opportunities to keep you participating in the event as a participant, not just a bystander.

I strongly encourage you to attend this CMA event as a way to increase your knowledge base so that your methods of credit management aren’t as random as trying to find a four-leaf clover in a large field. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Best regards,

Tracy Rosenbach
CMA Chairperson 2016/2017

Chairman’s Blog: Sharing is Caring, by Tracy Rosenbach, CCE

With Valentine’s Day coming up, I can’t help but think of how we teach our children the concept that “sharing is caring” as they are growing up. We hope over time this lesson fosters acts of generosity and kindness, and it turns our kids into quality adults. In our profession, sharing information is crucial to our success. Attending industry credit group meetings gives us that bit of real-time information that often we cannot get from a credit reporting service or the internet.

There is nothing like being able to speak with another credit professional in your industry to find out about a mutual customer. Of course, there are guidelines which we need to follow when discussing customers (past activity only).

The group my company belongs to has an attorney present during all discussions and social activities as a precaution. In addition to obtaining customer information, Industry Credit Groups encourage networking, which is an important aspect of growing in a profession. By talking to others, we find out more about our particular industry, educational opportunities and ways in which we can expand our own knowledge base and ultimately better help our companies make sound credit decisions.

If you are not already a member of a Credit Group, I strongly encourage you to contact CMA to find out about an industry credit group that would be appropriate for your company. If you are a member of an Industry Credit Group, fully participate and help it to grow. Look out for other companies that would benefit from being a member of your group. There is a real strength to an industry group that has high participation, plenty of members and solid leadership.

And while we’re in the giving spirit, I encourage you to nominate individuals who you believe are moving the credit function forward with one of the honors and awards categories that CMA will be recognizing at its Annual Meeting in April. It’s really easy to nominate someone, and it’s a great way to show your appreciation for a fellow credit professional who constantly leads positive discussions at your Group meetings or consistently helps other credit managers. CMA is an association made up of an amazing group of people like you who are dedicated to helping the other credit professionals in our areas.

Thanks for reading!

Best regards,

Tracy Rosenbach
CMA Chairperson 2016/2017

A Time to Reflect at New Year, by Tracy Rosenbach

Happy New Year’s everyone!

January is a natural time for reflection and goal setting. Professionally, this is the time when I like to take a look back at the previous year to see how I can improve on what we accomplished last year. From there, I begin to develop goals for myself and the department. I am always looking for ways in which to make the flow of work go more smoothly, payments especially at year end to be made on time, etc… I find that communication and organization are two of the most important keys to success.

Nothing can replace the personal touch when it comes to working with high-risk and key customers, one of my goals each year involves developing a list of customers to visit. Normally the list has no more than 10 – 15 names on it to keep the focus on those customers which can materially impact my company. Some of these customers are within driving distance, which minimizes the expense. Some I will have to fly to, but I try to combine it with a conference/seminar/meeting in order to get the most out of the trip. Making that personal contact with the customer can open up the lines of communication in many ways. When I am visiting a customer, I try to meet as many key personnel as possible from the CFO and/or controller to the Purchasing Manager. I always represent myself as yet another point of contact/resource for our customers. Years ago, I had a customer call to ask me a freight question involving a delivery. Normally I don’t handle this type of question, but I took down the information and rather than transfer the customer around the company I found out who could answer the question and put the two parties in touch. The personal touch is invaluable.

I also look for ways to better streamline our credit operations, making sure that our processes are as efficient as possible with the technology that’s available, and that we’re using the correct reporting resources to meet our needs and provide data to make effective credit decisions. When’s the last time you evaluated your credit reporting solutions? If it’s been more than a year, I suggest you do it again soon.

As you head into the New Year take a moment to reflect about 2016 – the successes and the failures – and how you and your department can improve. You are not alone by any means. CMA provides the means for networking (industry groups, the annual meeting, etc.), information exchange (the type of credit reports you need and the information exchanged through RFIs, alerts and credit groups), collection of tough accounts (collection services), etc… Please reach out to the CMA staff for any assistance you may need to ensure that your company’s credit operations run as smoothly as possible in 2017 and going forward. Remember, CMA exists as a partner to help your credit department accomplish its goals. Don’t forget to include CMA in your success plans for 2017 and beyond.

Have a happy and healthy 2017! I’ll touch base in February.

Tracy Rosenbach

CMA Chairperson 2016/2017

How to Survive Year-End, by Tracy Rosenbach, CCE

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Happy Holidays!

It’s calendar year end and for many of us it is fiscal year end. It is the time of year when we take one last look at 2016 before the year ends. The last-minute dash begins. Calling customers to ensure large/crucial payments arrive on time. Working with the sales team to finalize or confirm any new customer arrangements or existing customer deals that might impact the bottom line. Speaking with management to confirm what the year-end expectations are. Sending accounts who aren’t communicating anymore to a third-party collections agency for their assistance.

Here’s a friendly reminder to please reach out to the folks at CMA if you need assistance. If you need an extra credit report, a last-minute clearance from your industry credit group, help filing preliminary notices or liens, etc., CMA is there to help you get through this last-minute crunch.

As we reflect back on 2016, though there is a lot to do during this time of year, don’t forget to recognize those people around you who help you make it happen. CMA will soon be asking for nominations for several awards including the CBA, CBF and CCE Designation of Excellence, Member of the Year, Member Company of the Year, Mentor of the Year, Instructor of the Year and so on. When the call for nominations comes out, please consider nominating someone you work with, an associate you network with, or one of your personal credit mentors for a CMA award. These awards will be handed out at the CMA Annual Meeting this Spring. If you have any questions about the awards, how to nominate, etc., please reach out to me or the CMA staff.

Lastly, but most importantly, I wanted to thank you for your continued support of CMA through your membership, industry group participation, volunteering, and use of CMA’s services. Your contributions make a difference.

Best wishes to you and your family for a very Happy Holiday season! I’ll touch base in January.

Tracy Rosenbach, CCE

CMA Chairperson 2016/2017

Giving Thanks, by Tracy Rosenbach, CCE

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Happy November everyone! I am still trying to get used to the concept that it is Fall here in Southern California. Many days I feel like it is still just summer, extending out a few more weeks. Regardless, it’s at this time of year that I take time to think about life professionally and personally.

To do this task right, I often list out why I am thankful. I include on my list the educational opportunities that I did throughout the year which help me to do my job (this year, it was attending Credit Congress and Fall Creditscape), the personal and professional friendships I’ve been fortunate enough to have, the customers I enjoy working with, the great boss I work for and my family. I think it is extremely important to take a look at the positive.

In addition to taking a retrospective look, I try to thank those who help me. In my communications with our customers, I make sure to thank them for the opportunity to do business together. Internally, I thank those who provide me guidance, information, etc…

I am also thankful that we have CMA to help us in our professional lives. CMA is an amazing organization in all the services they offer credit professionals to help manage risk, such as getting advice on the best credit report for your organization and circumstance, filing your construction lien forms, safely facilitating the industry credit group you participate in, etc…

I encourage you to contact CMA for any questions you have regarding their services, or to try them out for the first time. They are great listeners too!

Best wishes to you for a very Happy Thanksgiving! Have a wonderful holiday, and thanks for reading.

Tracy Rosenbach
CMA Chairperson 2016/2017

My Take on CMA’s Fall CreditScape Conference, by Tracy Rosenbach, CCE

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Happy Fall Everyone! I just got back from attending CMA’s Fall CreditScape in Sonoma, California. What a great experience in a beautiful setting. At the Conference, we heard from subject matter experts and practitioners. Here were some of my observations from the event.

CMA President Mike Mitchell started off the conference with a session on maximizing your CMA membership; it is so important that we all know how to get the most for the money our companies pay for us to be members. Even though Mike presents this topic as a webinar (and if you haven’t heard it, you can register for the next one here, which will take place in November), it’s always better to see things like this in person, and to hear the questions that other credit managers have about some of CMA’s products and services, prompting some to consider the approach they take towards their jobs.

The Cash-to-Cash talk led by Bob Shultz gave attendees the big picture impact we as credit managers have on our organizations and the importance in understanding the cash cycle and how we need to get involved. Following the session, Shultz moderated a panel of CFOs who explained what they were looking for from their Credit Departments, including some of the metrics and discussions they wanted to have with their own teams. After lunch, there were a couple of valuable panelist discussions of how parts of the cash cycle can be improved and “how you get to ‘yes’,” which was a discussion of how to mitigate the risky transactions that do not necessarily qualify for the credit through the usual analysis. Options discussed by the panel included using Letters of Credit, filing a UCC, taking out credit insurance, and the software and service providers whose software helps improve their credit processes.

The second day started out with a lively discussion of the collection process by Bart Frankel. Bart went through a detailed six-step process for the attendees which included many good suggestions members could take back to the office. Attendees even practiced collection calls with each other with Bart moderating (and post-event survey responses proved that nearly everyone who attended was going to implement at least one thing Bart spoke about during this session when they got back to the office).

The conference also provided a high-level of networking opportunities. During the conference, members were able to talk to third-party vendors about their respective situations and what services were available so that members could improve their internal processes. Other networking opportunities included a couple of planned activities, a speed networking event and a vendor demo marketplace. In addition, Thursday evening at the hotel was a networking event for attendees, where members were able to get to know each other during a blind wine tasting event, in addition to the great new contacts I met during the event. I felt the event was incredibly useful to me and my business, and I had a great time as well.

I strongly encourage you take advantage of educational opportunities offered by CMA and NACM. By attending conferences, participating in a webinar, attending the CMA Annual Meeting, etc… you have put yourself in a category above your competition. Stay tuned for other upcoming offerings from CMA.

Have a great October. I’ll touch base next month.

Tracy Rosenbach
CMA Chairperson 2016/2017

To Place or Not to Place, by Tracy Rosenbach, CCE

IMG_7974efHello everyone! I was thinking about an issue recently that affects all Credit and Collections professionals, when is the right time to place an account with a collection agency. Though I won’t be talking about Shakespeare (as the title of my blog suggests), I used the reference because I find myself pondering this question very frequently, and it is at times a tough decision.

Let’s face it: the profession we work in is in many ways a grey area. Our decisions can quickly change depending on the information we receive, even one bit of information can alter our course. What can we do about it? If you haven’t already, I believe that every company should develop a procedure for placing accounts for collection. Your policy should address such issues as timing (how long does your company generally allow an account to be past due), dollar amount (does your company treat an account differently depending on the dollar amount outstanding), account status (does your company view the customer as a key account) and customer cooperation (is the customer willing, but unable or are you getting the silent treatment). If your company already has a policy regarding placing an account in collections I suggest that you review it periodically so that it accurately reflects your company’s culture. Once you have a procedure in place you have a guideline to follow.

Next we look at what information we have. We as credit managers are amazing at gathering, processing and summarizing information. Information in this situation would include: customer payment history, customer financial information (if shared), a third party report (Dun & Bradstreet, Experian, Equifax, etc…), your own experience in handling the customer, your CMA industry credit group experience and perhaps information from sales. We process this information and summarize it. We compare the information we have on hand to our company’s policy and then make our recommendation.

How do you decide when to put an account in collections? How long should you wait? What are things I look for before I submit to collections? We weigh the information in a department discussion, review our guidelines and then make our decision.

CMA’s collection partner AG Adjustments suggests you wait until you have exhausted your internal efforts, the customer is 60-90 days past due, they are not communicating and there are no new orders and the customer is unresponsive before placing for collections. What do you think? I’m interested in your thoughts and methodology. Please leave your comments at the bottom of this blog.

Hope you have a good September. I’ll touch base in next month.

Tracy Rosenbach
CMA Chairperson 2016/2017

Chairman’s Blog: Building Relationships with Customers through Customer Visits, by Tracy Rosenbach, CCE

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Greetings CMA members! I can’t believe that we are in the middle of summer. Time sure flies. For this month’s blog I wanted to talk about our customers and techniques I use to build a relationship with them. Some of our customers drive us mad, some of our customers are fabulous and some are somewhere in between. One valuable tool I use as a credit manager is the customer visit. Understanding that each of us works with a budget (both fiscal and time) that determines who we can visit, I strongly encourage you to attempt to visit as many of your customers as possible.

Depending on factors such as your industry, dollar purchase volume, your company’s risk tolerance, etc., I suggest that you make a checklist of those key customers you would like to see and why. The “why” provides the justification to management for you to be out of the office, and it also proves that you’re taking a proactive (instead of reactive) stance towards your job.

The next step is to approach your boss with the list and be prepared to discuss the “why.” I have found over the years that having that initiating a personal connection with a customer pays off in terms of obtaining financial information, and it provides a far better understanding of the customer’s business including its challenges and a relationship with a company that can directly impact your company’s performance. For example, I had a key customer contact me directly with all the pertinent information regarding the removal of a key member of its management team before it went public just so I would know what had really happened. This is the type of relationship I strive for with all our key customers. Is it practical? Perhaps not, but it is important to try. If your budget is tight and an actual visit is not possible, then I suggest that you give your contact a call to see how he/she is doing and how the company is doing. Be sure to get their e-mail address so that you can touch base periodically. Communication is truly the key to success in any business relationship.

What methods do you use to build relationships with your customers? I’d love to hear about them. Please respond to the blog below.

Have a great rest of your summer. I’ll touch base in the Fall.

Tracy Rosenbach
CMA Chairperson 2016/2017

My Greatest Takeaways from NACM Credit Congress, by Tracy Rosenbach, CCE

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Greetings everyone! As you probably know by now, I am a huge proponent of education. I feel that every little nugget that I take away helps me to be a better credit professional and add to my skill set. I’ve achieved the CCE designation, and I try to attend every CMA or NACM event that I can, schedule permitting, as all of them have offered something that I can bring back to the office and implement.

I just got back from the NACM National Credit Congress in Las Vegas and had a great experience. The conference offered a great selection of session topics such as how a credit manager can protect him or herself when selling into Latin America to cloud based solutions for the credit department. Aside from the amazing educational offerings, Credit Congress offers its members the opportunity for networking with other credit professionals from all over the country which can be invaluable. In addition to the education and networking, attendees can talk to various service providers including NACM in the conference’s Expo center to find out about services that are available to credit professionals to make our jobs better and more efficient. I truly believe that information is the key to our success and it is what sets us apart from everyone else.

From the information gained from the packed rooms of the sessions I attended, to the different service providers whom I spoke with, to the cocktail receptions I reconnected with old friends and met new ones, to the client dinners I went to, I felt that my attendance at this event helped reassure that my company’s credit operations are going in the right direction. If you haven’t attended an event like this one, CreditScape or Western Region Credit Conference, I can’t express how valuable it is to experience firsthand what other credit departments are doing to maximize efficiency.

For those who attended the event (and more than 100 CMA members did!), what were your biggest takeaways? I’d love to get your feedback.

Have a great month!

Tracy

Here’s to the Unsung Credit Heroes, by Tracy Rosenbach, CCE

Greetings! I hope everyone is having a good month. I was at an Industry Credit group meeting recently where I was thinking, nowadays everyone is concerned with saving money, minimizing expenses, etc…, so I decided to write this month’s blog on “How you can be a hero to your company.” As credit managers, we have the responsibility of reviewing our credit reporting services periodically for better pricing and enhancements to the products, similar to you obtaining car insurance quotes in your personal life when your insurance comes up for renewal. Whether you decide to change services or not, it’s always a good idea to be aware of what’s available in the marketplace today.

Here are some questions to ask: Do the reports you currently use include the best information you need to make informed credit decisions? Is there additional data that you’d like to see on the reports you’re using?

CMA is here to help. I encourage you to contact Terry Campos at CMA to help guide you through the process. She is a brand-neutral resource, with 44 years of experience working with NACM and the three major commercial credit reporting bureaus. If you are not happy with the service you are currently using, she will work with you to find another solution so that you don’t have to do this on your own.

I also recommend you participate in CMA’s free webinar series on credit reporting, which begins June 9th. You’ll be able to hear from Terry and reps from the credit bureaus as they talk about what’s new and provide an overview of their products. Sign up at www.creditmanagementassociation.org/events, I believe it will be well worth your time.

You can be a hero by saving your company money and making your job easier by being able to access quality credit information that helps you make sound credit decisions.

I look forward to seeing you at Credit Congress in June!

Tracy Rosenbach

Tracy Rosenbach, CCE, is the Financial Services Manager at Silgan Containers LLC and Chairperson of the CMA Board of Directors. She can be reached at 818-710-3729.

Chairman’s Newsletter: Greetings from the New Chairperson!, by Tracy Rosenbach

Greetings! I am excited and honored to serve as your new CMA Chairperson. For those of you who don’t know me I’ve been a credit manager for 20+ years and a CMA member since December 1995. The challenges I face at work are likely the same ones you do: trying to manage credit risk; doing more with less; and trying to stay current with the latest trends in credit management in a changing industry.

Speaking of change our Credit Management Association (CMA) has begun a new chapter in its history with the move to the new office in Glendale. The association is working hard toward positioning itself for the future. We as credit managers need to be a part of that transition. We are fortunate to have CMA as a professional resource in turn we have the responsibility to give back to the association through volunteering. By volunteering we help to strengthen the association and shape it to the current needs of local credit managers. I encourage you to reach out in your local industry groups as well as call CMA to see how you can be a part of a much storied institution. Volunteer opportunities can include, but are not limited to, being an industry group leader, serving on a CMA committee or serving on the CMA board. We encourage your participation and need your input.

What’s Coming Up

To stay current in the credit management profession, there are a couple of wonderful opportunities for education coming up. In June we have the NACM Credit Congress in Las Vegas at Caesar’s Palace and in September CMA will be hosting Fall CreditScape in Sonoma. I have always felt that education is an important component to progressing in our profession which is why I worked toward and obtained my CCE designation several years ago. I encourage you to take a look at these offerings and support your association by participating and becoming engaged in its activities.

I look forward to serving you this year. Best regards,

Tracy Rosenbach
CMA Chairperson 2016 – 2017

Tracy Rosenbach, CCE, is the Financial Services Manager at Silgan Containers LLC and Chairperson of the CMA Board of Directors. She can be reached at 818-710-3729.

CMA Chairman’s Blog: My Outgoing Message, by Michael Fenner, CBA

 

What a year it has been and I can’t believe how fast the time went by…

I was so happy to see the turnout to CMA’s Spring CreditScape this past week. Thank you to those people who were able to attend. If you weren’t able to make it in March, please make sure you attend the Fall CreditScape as I believe it will be worth your time.

I have been truly honored and humbled to serve as the Chairman of the Board of Directors this last year for CMA. I would like to personally say “thank you” to the following people…Mike Mitchell, Kim Lamberty of CMA for their trust and guidance. To Tracy Rosenbach, Jim Morrow, Melissa Kobus the Executive Team, thank you for your leadership and support this last year…it was really appreciated. And to the rest of the Board Members, I would like to show my sincere gratitude for your endless efforts, your committee service, and your ideas presented last year. Thank you!

And last but not least…all of the CMA employees for their support to the Board throughout our service.

I would like to take a minute and point out some of CMA’s accomplishments over the past year:

  1. CMA launched the Fall and Spring CreditScapes – Which focused on a 360-degree look at one particular topic to give it a much more interactive and more focused educational program.
  2. CMA launched the Supplier Risk Group – Which looks at how to evaluate your suppliers to help you manage a different type of risk, one that could be more important that if any one customer doesn’t pay.
  3. The Construction Credit Report was launched as a partnership with Ansonia Credit Data. The report provides information needed to make decisions based on a construction project.
  4. CMA Adjustments (formerly CMA Adjustment Bureau) – received new branding and a new logo to better portray its 133 years in business.
  5. CMA recently moved its offices from Burbank to Glendale, modernizing its workspace.
  6. New Designees earned over last year: 5 CBAs, 1 CBF, and 2 CCEs.

It’s been really exciting to help move our Credit Association forward in a positive direction this year. Please continue to support CMA and our incoming Chair Tracy Rosenbach to increase our membership, improve existing services, add new services, and help CMA continue to be the best Association we all deserve. Let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear your feedback.

Michael W. Fenner, CBA, is the Credit Management Association Chairman and Manager of Corporate Credit Operations for Beacon Roofing Supply, Inc. He can be reached at 714-321-8187, or mfenner@becn.com.

CMA Chairman’s Blog: Advancing your Career through CMA by Michael W. Fenner, CBA

Year after year, as we go through our careers, we are always looking for ways to improve ourselves and advance in our professions. I know for me, I got complacent with my job and quite frankly I didn’t know where to go and or who to turn to. My luck changed when I ran into Mike Mitchell, CAE President of CMA at the Las Vegas airport in 2008 after attending a Western Region Credit Conference. I mentioned to him that I was looking for more in my career and he said to me, “You are already being considered.” I wasn’t entirely sure what he meant by that at that moment, but shortly thereafter I received a phone call to join CMA’s Board of Directors. I thought it was a great opportunity to be able to volunteer and help our association, understand more about how a business works, as well as work with my peers from all different companies and credit backgrounds. The rest is history…

Let’s take a look at some of the platforms that have assisted me through my career:

  • Professional Credit Certification – It’s never too late to get your designation or move to the next level. Here are the available designations.
    • Certified Credit and Risk Analyst (CCRA) – For analysis and interpretation of financial statements.
    • Credit Business Associate (CBA) – This includes three credit courses basic financial accounting, business credit principles and introduction to financial statement analysis.
    • Credit Business Fellow (CBF) – The lessons include business law and credit law.
    • Certified Credit Executive (CCE) – You must be proficient at accounting, finance, domestic and international credit concepts, management and law.
    • Professional Development Programs – CMA offers a variety of courses in person and online. The anscers.com website (on the education tab) is constantly being updated with the latest information for all of us. As an example some of our options today include (but not limited to) the Spring and Fall CreditScape Summits, NACM’s annual Credit Congress, numerous lien law seminars in many states, a course on alternative for financing the sale of goods, and credit risk and risk mitigation techniques. Please go check them out and see which one can assist you in your career.
  • Board and Committee Service – By volunteering my time on the CMA Board of Directors and serving on board committees it has allowed me to grow as a person and become a more of a diverse credit manager and move up in my career. I have been able to make lifelong friends as well as expand my credit knowledge to move forward in my field just by participating in discussions and working with my associates.
  • Industry Credit Groups (ICG’s) – My ICG helped assist me in my credit decision process to run a more thorough credit department. Currently we have 60 diverse groups. They network with each other, share factual information timely, and you get responses promptly from your group members so you can make educated decisions with your new accounts and or your current A/R. Feel free to contact Diana Escobar directly at (818) 972-5342 for more information about groups that pertain to your industry.

We all know how important it is to stay up-to-date with our education. And finding the time to go to events or take classes can be a challenge. Things won’t change unless we change them. Invest in yourself and your teams, and challenge them to improve and grow.

Make sure you encourage your teams to support CMA which is your association. It is important to always network with your colleagues and make some new friends as you go through this process. Make sure you always bring back your experiences to incorporate them into your jobs.

Let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear your feedback.

Michael W. Fenner, CBA, is the Credit Management Association Chairman and Manager of Corporate Credit Operations for Beacon Roofing Supply, Inc. He can be reached at 714-321-8187, or mfenner@becn.com.

Why You Need to Attend the CreditScape Spring Summit, by Michael W. Fenner, CBA

Now that we have all made our “New Years resolutions,” make sure you don’t drop the ball on your professional goals. Maybe you would like to improve your own personal skill set in your organization. Or perhaps you want your team to get up-to-date with the latest credit training / information in the market place. For me, as I move through this New Year, I look at budget planning and ideas on how to improve our credit department. I urge you to please take some time to review the latest CMA CreditScape Spring Summit information. By attending the two days of workshop training, I believe that it will propel you and your department to the next level.

What will be covered this spring…“The Efficient Digital Credit Department”.

Let’s take a look at some of the items that stood out to me:

  • All Levels of Expertise Welcome – Good for beginners to experts in your departments.
  • The discussions are led by practitioners, not marketing people – Get a 360-degree look into the elements of an efficient digital credit department, focusing on best practices and real-world case studies with the best and brightest practitioners in credit and collections, including top credit executives from companies such as Sony Entertainment, Sysco Foods, Ganahl Lumber, Kendall-Jackson, Walters Wholesale, UTA/United TranzActions, the U.S. Department of Commerce and Watsco.
  • Focusing on your Departments Efficiencies – Such as why should your department go digital…You’ve decided to “Go Digital” Now What?…Automating your customer onboarding process…Vetting your customers…Automating your A/R management processes…International resources and government automation tools……Using third-party vendors to create efficiencies…and emerging technologies impacting the credit department to name a few.
  • Convenient Location – This will be in Southern California this spring at The Island Hotel Newport Beach saving costs for those of us who live locally.

The event information is as follows:

Date: March 24-25, 2016
Location: The Island Hotel Newport Beach 690 Newport Center Drive Newport Beach, CA 92660 ($189 a night)
Cost: $495 for CMA members and $595 for non-members
Registration: To register go to www.creditscapeconference.com

We all know how it is important to stay up-to-date with our education. And finding the time to go to these events can be hard too. Invest in your team, and challenge them to improve and grow. This program will be packed with information and has many excellent speakers too. I would highly recommend it.

Additionally, CMA has a prewritten “letter to your boss” to help you show the value of the event. To get a copy, go to http://creditmanagementassociation.org/events/creditscape/cma-annual-meeting-letter-to-your-boss/

Please take a few minutes to read through the program highlights to answer all of your questions on the CreditScape Spring Summit 2016 brochure located at http://creditmanagementassociation.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/creditscape-brochure-spring-2016.pdf

Make sure you encourage your teams, support CMA…your association, and network with old friends and make some new ones too. Team up with your colleagues and learn together. Then bring back your experiences to incorporate into your jobs. Let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear your feedback.

Michael W. Fenner, CBA, is the Credit Management Association Chairman and Manager of Corporate Credit Operations for Beacon Roofing Supply. He can be reached at 714-321-8187, or mfenner@becn.com.

Chairman’s Blog: Credit New Year’s Resolutions, by Michael W. Fenner, CBA

Yes, it’s that time of year again and it’s hard to believe another year has passed us by. I hope everyone enjoyed spending time with their families and relatives over the holiday season. As we start 2016, everyone always asks “Have you made your New Year’s resolutions yet?” Or “What are your New Year’s resolutions this year?” As I write this blog, I am thinking about what my personal and professional resolutions will be this year. Let me take a minute or two and suggest a few resolutions you could include with yours.

If each one of us could include a resolution or two about CMA we could make this association stronger for all of us. As you read through the suggestions, hopefully you will find some to help you get started. It’s important to have the backing and support of Credit Management Association for your credit department as well as your company and I appreciate you taking the time to read though the following. Enjoy and “Happy New Year!”

  • CMA / AGA Collections – Maybe your current collection agency isn’t producing the results you are expecting…give CMA / AGA an opportunity they offer nationwide service, reasonable rates, excellent communication and they collect the money too.
  • Construction Forms Filing Services (CFFS) – Have you outgrown your current provider and need to try something new? You can always try CFFS…CMA has accurate, personal, and cost-effective construction forms filing in all 50 states, and has access to a network of attorneys and resources to help fulfill all of your construction needs.
  • Professional Development – Are you looking to update your skills? CMA has quite a few options from the CreditScape Spring and Fall Summits, to online courses, live and recorded webinars, and the courses available to get your Professional Credit Certification all in one place.
  • Industry Credit Groups (ICG) – Please take some time and experience the ICG’s CMA has to offer. We participate and always come away with some useful information. CMA’s 60 current groups network and share factual information, and provide you with responses promptly from other group members so you can then make more educated decisions with your new accounts and or your current A/R for companies within your own vertical industry who share the same customers as your company does.
  • Business Credit Reports – Maybe you already have contracts with a provider or two…sometimes you are looking for supplementary information to help you with your business decisions. Or maybe you are unsure if your current data provider is giving you as much information as there is available. CMA offers the anscersX multi-bureau commercial credit report, NACM National Trade Credit Report, as well as DNBi, Equifax and Experian. Additionally, they offer consumer reports and international reports as well. It gives you the opportunity to purchase on a report by report basis.

Maybe it’s as simple as just wanting to learn more about what CMA has to offer. If you go to www.anscers.com click on the education tab and you can join a “free” webinar called “Maximize your Membership” scheduled on February 17th from 9:00 am to 10:00 am hosted by Michael Mitchell, President and CEO of Credit Management Association. Check it out!

Please remember we need you to support “your” credit association when you can and as always “thank you” for your support. I encourage you to send in any ideas to improve your credit association. Let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear your feedback.

Michael W. Fenner, CBA, is the Credit Management Association Chairman and Regional Credit Manager for Beacon Roofing Supply. He can be reached at 714-321-8187, or mfenner@becn.com.

CMA Chairman’s Blog: ‘Tis the Season for Giving Back: Why You Should Volunteer With CMA, by Michael W. Fenner, CBA

Michael Fenner, CMA Chairman of the Board of Directors
Michael Fenner, CMA Chairman of the Board of Directors

I hope everyone enjoyed their time away from the daily grind and that you were able to be with your family this Thanksgiving season. As I write this blog, I was thinking that we all like to give around the holidays, to our families, friends, the community etc. In 2007, Credit Management Association awarded me with a scholarship to attend the Western Region Credit Conference. I was very grateful for the opportunity as it really helped my career. And for that very reason I wanted to give back to CMA. Ironically, I ran into Michael Mitchell, CMA President and CEO at the airport after that conference and told him I wanted to “give back” to the association and the rest is history. I was nominated to the Board of Directors and I have served on the committees listed below to help make our association better for you.

I wanted to share a few bullet points today so you too can consider ways that you can give back and make your association a stronger, better organization for all of us. Please take a few minutes to read below and if you are interested in helping out just let me know. I would be happy to point you in the right direction. I appreciate your time and consideration.

  • CMA Board of Directors – The board meets five times a year and determines the policies and direction of the Association. The Board is responsible for monitoring progress towards the achievement of the strategic and operating objectives of the Association. This has been a very educational experience as you work with credit managers from different types of companies. It’s both challenging and rewarding as you go through the process.
  • Membership Committee – This team focuses on membership issues such as member benefits, acquisition and retention, as well as member engagement, and member categories. This group is interesting and stimulating, they help members understand the “value” of their memberships.
  • Professional Development – This is the committee that sets the direction of the educational courses, seminars and webinars that CMA offers. As an example, they work on the Spring and Fall CreditScape sessions that feature roundtable experiences taught by veteran credit professionals. These meetings are taught at an advanced and high level. Discussions include business issues, best practices and tips on valuable resources.
  • Honors and Awards Committee – This committee focuses on member recognition, with a primary responsibility of selecting members for CMA’s annual awards as well as nominating members for NACM’s National awards. There is nothing more gratifying than nominating your peers who have worked so hard in the industry.
  • Nominating Committee – This group selects nominees for the Treasurer and other Director positions available for election for the year. This committee assists in the review of candidates, through systems and checklists. Another opportunity to select outstanding peers in the credit community.

What can you do to help your credit association? Please reach out as we are always looking for talented people to be nominated and share their experiences through their leadership and volunteer work.

Please remember we need you to support “your” credit association when you can and as always “thank you” for your support. I encourage you to send in any ideas to improve your credit association. Let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear your feedback. Thank you for taking time to read my blog.

Michael W. Fenner, CBA, is the Credit Management Association Chairman and Regional Credit Manager for Beacon Roofing Supply. He can be reached at 714-321-8187, or mfenner@becn.com.

Fraud Tips – Don’t be a target this season, by Michael W. Fenner, CBA

Wow…it’s hard to believe the holidays are just around the corner. We all know this time of the year we need to be more vigilant in regard to protecting our assets. I wanted to take a few minutes and list some bullet points to think about so you can share with your teams. I don’t have all of the answers so feel free to share your experience as well. You know if we close any potential loop holes now we will save our companies some money and hopefully minimize any possible theft this holiday season. Let’s make sure we all review our credit policies with our team members today.

Below are some tips about accepting checks and or credit cards:

  • Know your customer. – Have you dealt with this person before? If not, it might be a sign.
  • Avoid taking credit card payments over the phone from customers you don’t know. – It’s hard to verify the identity of the person on the phone. Have them come in to verify them and swipe the card.
  • The customer won’t show their ID. – Call the company number on the check to verify the person, call the bank to see if the account is open or closed. Chances are something will come out of the additional questions you are asking.
  • Is the driver’s license preprinted on the check or prewritten on the check already? – Still take the time to review and verify the customer’s identification. They could be trying to slip one by you.
  • Is a rental truck picking up the material? – Notify your yard personnel to keep an eye out for customers loading material into rental trucks. This is a very common sign.
  • Are they not from your area? – Is there ID from San Diego but they are purchasing from you in Los Angeles? They may have a job in your area but keep an eye out for this one.
  • How is the customer acting, are they nervous? – Are they avoiding eye contact, are they acting suspicious, being pushy after a very simple request?
  • Does the e-mail address match up with the company name? – Double check to see if the e-mail address matches up with the information on the check and or credit card authorization form.
  • An out of the area phone number. – Do they have an area code that isn’t from your area. Take a second look and confirm.
  • If it doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t. – We all have that gut feeling at times. Have your teams contact your credit department if they are feeling uncomfortable.
  • Did I mention know your customer? – Always make sure you know who you are dealing with.

Fraud can hit us many different ways, but it always bites us. They are always persistent and unyielding and it doesn’t matter where you are from New York to California. At times they are highly organized and very sophisticated. And other times they are by themselves looking for an easy target. Don’t be an easy target. As always keep your eyes and ears open.

Thank you for taking a few minutes out of your busy schedule to read my blog.

Please remember we need you to support “your” credit association when you can and as always “thank you” for your support. I encourage you to send in any ideas to improve your credit association. Let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear your feedback.

Michael W. Fenner, CBA, is the Credit Management Association Chairman and Regional Credit Manager for Beacon Roofing Supply. He can be reached at 714-321-8187, or mfenner@becn.com.

The power of “WE” (not just “ME”) submitting your company’s full A/R, by Michael W. Fenner, CBA

Submitting your company’s full A/R has been talked about quite a bit this summer. There is a reason for that…it’s important. I wanted to take a minute to point out the value and personally ask for your support in this request. You know, the more companies that contribute, the more people that will benefit. If you contribute, your company will have an advantage. Besides, with today’s web-based technology, it’s very simple, fast, and secure to do. Let’s all support Credit Management Association and contribute our full A/R’s so we can all make better business decisions.

Below are a few bullet points as to the value of submitting your full A/R:

  • Reference Information – Trade experience will be available to you right away. No need to wait for faxes any longer.
  • Supports NACM and CMA – This contribution will support the National Trade Credit Report (NTCR) as well as members at Credit Management Association.
  • Easy to Contribute – Most of us already submit to our Industry Trade Groups. You can use the same format such as Excel to contribute your full A/R and send it right off to CMA.
  • Informed Decisions – You will be able to approve credit applications in a timely manner with current up-to-date information. This will also help you with updating accounts, when those big orders come in at the 11 hour. This happens to all of us.
  • Supports Well Established Customers – Members will be able to support their good paying customers and everyone will know who is consistently paying on time.
  • No Need to Respond to RFI or Group Lists – This will save time and money as contributors’ information will automatically be added to the Anscers database. This is a nice feature. Additionally, this will also strengthen your Industry Credit Group.
  • Reports Delinquent Customers – Members will know who isn’t paying regularly month in and month out.
  • CMA President Mike Mitchell has offered an incentive – Beginning October 1, members who support the NTCR program with their monthly accounts receivable contributions will get 25 free NTCR reports annually and receive a discounted price of $9.95 per report over and above those 25 free reports. To get complete details please go here.

And, as always, Credit Management Association is here for YOU! Make sure you talk to your leaders to see if you can take advantage of this benefit. You can’t go wrong. Thank you for taking a few minutes out of your busy schedule to read this blog.

Please remember we need you to support “your” credit association when you can and as always “thank you” for your support. I encourage you to send in any ideas to improve your credit association. Let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear your feedback.

Michael W. Fenner, CBA, is the Credit Management Association Chairman and Regional Credit Manager for Beacon Roofing Supply. He can be reached at 714-321-8187, or mfenner@becn.com.

Does your credit department need a Tune-up? By Michael W. Fenner, CBA

As August winds down and your teams are returning from their summer vacations hopefully, things are returning back to normal. This may now give you the opportunity to review the services you currently use in your credit departments today.

As our vehicles need tune-ups so do our credit departments from time to time. As an example, are you taking advantage of your industry credit group (ICG)? Is there not a specific ICG for you and you would like to start one? Is your current collection agency “getting it done for you”? Do you have the need to file preliminary notices in your industry? Would you like to get started and or continue on with your professional credit certification? How about adding an additional credit report to your credit approval process? What can the business insolvency service do for you? Do you even know CMA offers payment services and deduction management? You may be looking for an association to do it all for you, replace an existing service and or supplement the current services you use today. Either way Credit Management Association is here for YOU!

Below is a quick look at what Credit Management Association has to offer:

  • Industry Credit Groups – With 60 current groups’ network and share factual information timely and get responses promptly with other group members so you can make educated decisions with your new accounts and or your current A/R.
  • Business Insolvency – Let CMA help your customers with other alternatives other than filing for bankruptcy with less publicity, cost and time.
  • AGA Collections – AGA offers nationwide service, reasonable rates, excellent communication and they collect the money too.
  • Business Credit Reports – They offer the AnscersX commercial report, NACM national trade report, as well as DNBi, Equifax and Experian. Additionally, they offer consumer reports and international reports as well.
  • Construction Forms Filing – Accurate and cost effective construction forms filing in all 50 states.
  • Education (Professional Development) – quite a few options from the CreditScape fall summit, online courses, live and recorded webinars, and the ability to get your Professional Credit Certification all in one place.
  • Payment Services – Through United TranzActions…check guarantee, ACH processing (including Canada), online bill pay, credit card merchant services, virtual lockbox and more.
  • Deduction Management – With IBA Solutions expertise they will be able to assist you with your deduction and A/R management.

Add the Anscers website to stay on top of all of your services and now have it all. You can’t go wrong. Please take a few minutes to logon to the CMA website to see all that is available to you http://creditmanagementassociation.org/ look under the services tab to get details for the bullet points above.

Please remember we need you to support “your” credit association when you can and as always “thank you” for your support and I encourage you to send in any ideas to improve your credit association. Let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear your feedback.

Michael W. Fenner, CBA, is the Credit Management Association Chairman and Regional Credit Manager for Beacon Roofing Supply. He can be reached at 714-321-8187, or mfenner@becn.com.

Why It’s Worth Leaving the Office to Attend the CreditScape Fall Summit, by Michael W. Fenner, CBA

As we are all busy at our desks this summer with increased sales, dealing with coverage issues due to family summer vacations, etc., let’s take a minute to think about where we are all at with our current positions. Don’t we all want to stay up-to-date with the latest best practices in collections? Or maybe you have a new employee just starting out in credit who needs to learn the collection basics. How about that one person in your department that’s been around for awhile and needs to brush up on their skills. I might suggest that you and your credit team take advantage of attending the CreditScape Fall Summit, hosted by AG Adjustments and Credit Management Association.

This is something new and different this year. Let’s take a look at some of the items that stood out to me:

  • All Levels of Expertise Welcome – Good for beginners to experts in your department.
  • Roundtable Experience – This will not be a classroom setup as usual; it will be a roundtable interactive workshop (with limited participants) so you all can look each other in the eye and share valuable insights.
  • Focusing on Collections – This Summit will be all about collections. techniques, third-party processes, best practices, fraud prevention, collection results, strategies, international collections to name a few.
  • Convenient Location – This will be at the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas, well priced to save on flight and hotel costs.

The event information is as follows:

Date: September 17-18 2015 (from 10:30 am Thursday through 2:00 pm Friday afternoon)…Location: Tropicana Hotel 3801 South Las Vegas Blvd. Las Vegas NV 89109 (discount rates available)…Cost: $495 for CMA members and $595 for non-members… To register go to www.creditscapeconference.com

We all know how it is important to stay up-to-date with our education. And finding the time to go to these events can be hard too. Invest in your team, and challenge them to improve and grow. This program will be packed with information and has many excellent speakers too. I would highly recommend it.

Please take a few minutes to read through the program highlights to answer all of your questions.

Make sure you encourage your teams, support CMA your association, and network with old friends and make some new ones too. Team up with your colleagues and learn together. Then bring back your experiences to incorporate into your jobs. Let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear your feedback.

Michael W. Fenner, CBA, is the Credit Management Association Chairman and Regional Credit Manager for Beacon Roofing Supply. He can be reached at 714-321-8187, or mfenner@becn.com.

CMA Chairman’s Blog: Why I Chose to Pursue Professional Credit Certification, by Michael W. Fenner, CBA

Michael Fenner, CMA Chairman of the Board of Directors
Michael Fenner, CMA Chairman of the Board of Directors

Are you looking for a way to be more successful and become more knowledgeable? Have you ever thought about making yourself more valuable at your current job or expand your career opportunities? Would you like to have a level of respect among your colleagues? How about being the best you can be at your current position? For me, my CBA designation helped with all of the above.

First, let’s take a look at the different professional credit certification levels:

The National Association of Credit Management’s (NACM) levels of certification are as follows:

  • Certified Credit and Risk Analyst (CCRA) – For analysis and interpretation of financial statements.
  • Credit Business Associate (CBA) – This includes three credit courses basic financial accounting, business credit principles and introduction to financial statement analysis.
  • Credit Business Fellow (CBF) – The lessons include business law and credit law.
  • Certified Credit Executive (CCE) – You must be proficient at accounting, finance, domestic and international credit concepts, management and law.

Once I made the decision to get my designation, everything else fell into place. Some of my questions were: Where can I get more information? Should I do the classes online or should I do them in a classroom setting? How much does it cost and where do I apply?

I chose to take all my courses in a class room setting and do the Credit Administration Program (CAP). I then networked and studied with a friend. My CBA designation has given me tremendous confidence to do my job and more credibility to my position and credit department.

We all want to grow and continually improve our abilities. The program is definitely worth it and I would highly recommend it.

I won’t be able to answer all of your questions in this blog so make sure you head over to the NACM website for complete information. CMA will be offering the CBA program again in the Fall. Stay tuned to CreditManagementAssociation.org as dates will be released soon.

As we all know, there are no degrees in the credit field, so a professional credit certification is definitely the way to go. Team up with some of your colleagues and learn together. Have fun with it! Let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear your feedback.

Michael W. Fenner, CBA, is the Credit Management Association Chairman and Regional Credit Manager for Beacon Roofing Supply. He can be reached at 714-321-8187, or mfenner@becn.com.

Chairman’s Blog: What’s Your Personality Style (and How it Can Help Relationships)? By Michael W. Fenner, CBA

After having dialogue with a customer, have you ever thought, “Wow…wasn’t that a great conversation?” Have you ever hung up the phone and said, “She was so nice.” And maybe you have said, “We really, really get along.” Or on the contrary, how many times have you said, “What did I say to irritate that customer?” Have you ever thought, “Why were they so upset?” Did you ever get off a call and say, “What just happened?” It’s happened to all of us. For me, when it does, I try to figure out a way to manage it.

Once I understand personality styles (and am able to conform to that customer’s style), I have been able to improve my relationships and enhance all conversations.

Here are the four personality styles:

  • Analytical – They think it through, they are detail oriented and love spreadsheets.
  • Amiable – They have “feelings” they are very low key and have good friendships.
  • Driver – They tell it like it is, it’s their way or the highway and they are in charge.
  • Expressive – They just want to have fun, talk about what happened last weekend and you always know where the next party is.

Here are several steps I went through that helped me have better conversations.

First, I figured out my own “personality style.” Once I did that it made the next steps easier. Take a look at the styles above and ask yourself “what’s your style?”

Second, take a minute before you make your next phone call and/or before you go in to visit your next customer and figure out what their personality style is.

Third, conform to their style. Yes, imitate it. It’s that simple. If an analytical person wants detail, give it to them in a spreadsheet or aging etc. Make sure you slow down and be very mellow with an amiable person (don’t make them mad). For the expressive person, have fun with them talk through everything they want to then get to your point and exit. With the driver, make sure you are as tough with him as he will be with you…he will think it was a great conversation.

I’m sure the times you got along with someone you conformed to their style and you didn’t even know it. And the times you didn’t get along, guess what…you probably didn’t conform to their style.

So what’s your style? Think about it on your next few phone calls and customer visits. See if it makes a difference or better conversation. Let me know your thoughts. Have fun with it. I’d love to hear your feedback.

Michael W. Fenner, CBA, is the Credit Management Association Chairman and Regional Credit Manager for Beacon Roofing Supply. He can be reached at 714-321-8187, or mfenner@becn.com.

Are You an Engaged CMA Member?, by Michael W. Fenner, CBA

Michael Fenner, CMA Chairman of the Board of Directors
Michael Fenner, CMA Chairman of the Board of Directors

Here at CMA we are always looking for engaged volunteers; you know, new people, fresh ideas etc. who can help further the credit management profession. Are you wanting to make a difference? It is so important for each and every one of us to support our association. Without members like you and I it just wouldn’t work. So if you are interested in getting involved please contact me directly. I would be happy to point you in the right direction.

Are you supporting the services offered at CMA such as Industry Credit Groups, RFIs, Education, AG Collections, Construction Forms Filing, or maybe Business Credit Reports? Use as many as you can to support and protect your credit departments. What is your department lacking? Where do you need extra support? Make sure you reach out to the CMA staff or me if you have any questions or needs. We are always here to support you.

And when I’m talking about engagement, I’m talking about doing the little things: attending credit education opportunities and introducing yourself to other credit managers; submitting RFIs and subjects for your industry group meetings; regular active participation in your industry credit group; and the list goes on and on.

Here’s an idea let’s all try to bring one new person to your Industry Credit Group this year…wouldn’t that make a difference? Remember, please make sure each and every one of you reach out and support when and where you can this year. It’s up to us and we can all make a difference.

What a wonderful opportunity to serve as your chairman on Credit Management Association’s Board of Directors this coming year. On a personal note, I am truly honored and humbled for the chance to help make a difference for the CMA organization. I am also appreciative that my company supports me in this role at Credit Management Association. Have you thanked your boss lately for their support? I know that I have.

Again, thank you all for this wonderful opportunity, and I look forward to doing great things with you this year.

Michael Fenner, CBA, is the Credit Management Association Chairman and Regional Credit Manager for Beacon Roofing Supply. He can be reached at 714-321-8187, or mfenner@becn.com.

Proud to be a CMA Member, by Melissa Kobus, CCE

Melissa Kobus, CCE, is the Credit Management Association Chair and Regional Credit Manager for Anixter Inc., based in Anaheim, CA. She can be reached at 714-695-2219, or melissa.kobus@anixter.com
Melissa Kobus, CCE, is the Credit Management Association Chair and Regional Credit Manager for Anixter Inc., based in Anaheim, CA. She can be reached at 714-695-2219, or melissa.kobus@anixter.com

I am honored to have served as the CMA Chairman of the Board for the last year and as my chairmanship ends this month, I would like to share my sincere gratitude and appreciation to the membership. It was a great privilege to serve on behalf of the entire membership. My goal was to provide guidance, insight and enthusiasm to the membership and to the credit industry as a whole. I am proud to be an active volunteer for CMA.

Sharing ideas and processes are important to me and I very much enjoyed creating my Chairman chat every month. I hope that you found little tidbits of information that you could use in your every day credit life. I believe in learning every day and hope this contributed to you learning something new. Education will always be a personal top goal. Learning is power!

As I complete my service, I challenge you to get involved with your association. CMA gets bigger and stronger when its members give back and are engaged. Look to volunteer on a committee, participate in your industry credit group or attend a networking function. Share your ideas and best practices. Quite frankly, this week is the CMA Annual Meeting, if you are not already registered, do so today. It will be the best $99 you will spend for an entire day of learning and networking. Please connect with me at the annual meeting; I really cannot wait to have a little “Credit Paradise”!

I appreciate your time in reading these posts. If there are any questions or comments, please feel free to email or call me. Thank you again for allowing me to serve as your Chairman of the Board.

I Love My Credit Industry Group, by Melissa Kobus, CCE

Melissa Kobus, CCE, is the Credit Management Association Chair and Regional Credit Manager for Anixter Inc., based in Anaheim, CA. She can be reached at 714-695-2219, or melissa.kobus@anixter.com
Melissa Kobus, CCE, is the Credit Management Association Chair and Regional Credit Manager for Anixter Inc., based in Anaheim, CA. She can be reached at 714-695-2219, or melissa.kobus@anixter.com

Last week someone asked me why my company joined CMA. I did not have to think long about why we became a member of CMA, it is all about the access to resources. The number 1 reason we joined was the electrical credit industry group. I have been a group member for over 15 years. The other credit professionals in the group at that time were wonderful, excellent credit managers in their own right, that group made me want to get involved.

I learn so much from participating in the group. I can ask questions and not feel uncomfortable. I am exposed to best practices that I can bring back and implement immediately. I developed friendships with people who understood what I face every day. A commitment of two hours every month helps me become a better credit manager, helps my company protect their assets and allows me to contribute to the growth of the credit profession.

Every month I have my credit industry group meeting on my calendar. It is not something I can afford to miss. I make the time to attend, it’s important to me, my company and the other group members. Contribution to and participation in the group is the key to a successful experience. My contribution is submitting our aging report every month so that the group has access to the most current data available. My participation is coming prepared to talk about new ideas, give insight on processes, and discuss upcoming educational opportunities.

One of the most significant parts of the group is the submission of aging information. The aging goes into the CMA database for access on anscers and in group reports. The contribution of your data is so very important, as it makes the meetings so much more valuable to deal with real-world problems. If you are not submitting your data today, please find a way to do it. There are contacts at CMA that can assist. Talk to your IT person to find an easy and simple way to download the data.

I love my credit industry group. I respect the credit managers that are a part of my group. I hope you find the same enjoyment with your group. If you are not part of an industry credit group today, ask why not. Contact CMA to find a group or even better, create a group for your specific industry needs. Please let me know if I can answer any questions about CMA’s credit industry groups.

Melissa Kobus, CCE, is the Credit Management Association Chairman and Regional Credit Manager for Anixter Inc., based in Anaheim, CA. She can be reached at 714-695-2219, or melissa.kobus@anixter.com

Finding Hidden Gems in Your Organization, by Melissa Kobus, CCE

Melissa Kobus, CCE, is the Credit Management Association Chair and Regional Credit Manager for Anixter Inc., based in Anaheim, CA. She can be reached at 714-695-2219, or melissa.kobus@anixter.com
Melissa Kobus, CCE, is the Credit Management Association Chair and Regional Credit Manager for Anixter Inc., based in Anaheim, CA. She can be reached at 714-695-2219, or melissa.kobus@anixter.com

The role of credit is ever changing.   What credit professionals handle on a daily, weekly, monthly basis is challenging and can sometimes feel overwhelming.  The requests from your customers, internally and externally, require you to reprioritize at any minute of the day.  What happens when the requests outweigh the resources available?  How do you handle the workload?  What steps have you taken to help balance your day?

I recognize that every company is different, what is a priority at one may not be a priority at another.  As the workload changes, have you taken a moment to rank your tasks by importance?  Are there tasks that you do as a matter of course “it’s always been done this way”, that are no longer really required.  Have you asked those who you are supporting, if the action is still necessary?  Eliminating redundant or outdated activities will easily add time to your day.

A challenge that I face with regularity is keeping up with technology.  Our customers ask us to support any number of different platforms for billing services and customer research.  Having the time and knowledge to provide excellent customer satisfaction is important, so I engage weekly with our IT group.  They have strong technical skills and have helped us out of a bind in a number of cases.  They too lack resources but I have found a good relationship has been mutually beneficial.

Sometimes there are those special projects that seem to come out of nowhere.  What about those projects that have been on your to-do list since last summer?  I have found resources outside the credit department to be extremely helpful depending on the project.  I have engaged sales support and front office staff to assist in getting the job done.  They welcome the new experience and opportunity to be involved.  They become part of the credit department extended family.  Who knows, they might bloom into the newest credit team member.

Streamlining your main activities and prioritizing; partnering with other departments; and developing resources outside of your specific team will help in balancing the ebbs and flows of the credit dept.  Can you too find hidden gems in your organization?

Melissa Kobus, CCE, is the Credit Management Association Chairman and Regional Credit Manager for Anixter Inc., based in Anaheim, CA. She can be reached at 714-695-2219, or melissa.kobus@anixter.com

How Can You Give Back to the Association, and Get Something in Return?, by Melissa Kobus, CCE

Melissa Kobus, CCE, is the Credit Management Association Chair and Regional Credit Manager for Anixter Inc., based in Anaheim, CA. She can be reached at 714-695-2219, or melissa.kobus@anixter.com
Melissa Kobus, CCE, is the Credit Management Association Chair and Regional Credit Manager for Anixter Inc., based in Anaheim, CA. She can be reached at 714-695-2219, or melissa.kobus@anixter.com

I find that the more you give the more you get back.  Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it’s in smaller increments.  In the credit world however, sometimes it can be hard to give.  You never know if your customer will send the payment your way, if the sales rep will get that RA or credit issued.  If you give too much, will you be able to meet your objectives?  Well, I have found a way to give back to CMA and its members that actually helps me to be more comfortable with my credit decisions.

Anixter has been a long-standing member with CMA.  We had always participated in the credit industry groups, submitting accounts for discussion and being involved.  In the last 5 years or so, we started to submit our aging too.  It was a great decision!  We are able to have our data available monthly for the members to pull electronically.  Having fresh data is so important in making an informed decision.

I download a report the first week of the month and submit it to the CMA data group.  They do all the rest.  They make sure the data gets into the anscers system quickly.  All members who pull a credit report from CMA have the immediate data at their finger tips.  If someone pulls an RFI, they will see the trade line from that month.  It is great!

I am making a call to action for all CMA members in 2015!  Start the New Year off by giving back to the association: submit your aging!  It is simple to submit the report in an Excel, CSV or tab delimited form. Simply send it via email at lwong@emailcma.org.   When you give to CMA, you will reap the rewards tenfold.  You will be able to make a solid credit decision and you will be helping other credit professionals too!

Melissa Kobus, CCE, is the Credit Management Association Chairman and Regional Credit Manager for Anixter Inc., based in Anaheim, CA. She can be reached at 714-695-2219, or melissa.kobus@anixter.com.

 

To Ship to Not to Ship – Should a Credit Manager Be Santa Claus or the Grinch?, by Melissa Kobus, CCE

Melissa Kobus, CCE, is the Credit Management Association Chair and Regional Credit Manager for Anixter Inc., based in Anaheim, CA. She can be reached at 714-695-2219, or melissa.kobus@anixter.com
Melissa Kobus, CCE, is the Credit Management Association Chair and Regional Credit Manager for Anixter Inc., based in Anaheim, CA. She can be reached at 714-695-2219, or melissa.kobus@anixter.com

It’s December, the last month of the fiscal calendar for most companies.  There is a lot of pressure to make sure your results are strong.  The sales team wants to have as many orders as possible go out the door. You need to have as much money as possible come in but your customers are having cash flow concerns, and it’s not making your job any easier. What is a credit manager to do?

It might be easy to just say ship the material and say “Happy Holidays.”  It will help increase sales and will make your past due percentage smaller and possibly improve your DSO.  The orders will help your customer complete the job they are trying to finish before the holidays.  Your sales manager will be happy as that will increase their bonus payout for the month, no coal in their stocking this year.  You can collect those funds in January.  However, is this really in the best interest of the company?  Are there other options that might secure the order, entice your customer to pay you sooner or can you just bring in the cash?

In my credit experience, I have worked with a lot of contractors.  We ask questions about the order and find out if this is material that is being used to improve a particular piece of property, if it is we will ask for a job sheet.   With that information, we create a job account to secure our transactions either through lien or bond rights.  There is a level of comfort when we have a job account: we know that if there is a payment issue, we can reach out to the owner or the general contractor for their assistance.  If I am questioning if an order can go out the door, I will always ask, “Can we secure it?”

All credit professionals are trying to be paid before other suppliers.  Providing excellent customer service helps as the customer is more willing to pay you first but that may not get the job done.  Have you ever tried to offer a one-time discount for a large payment?  Have you asked the customer if they can dip into their line of credit?  In the construction industry, you can ask for a joint pay agreement, when they get paid by their customer, you’ll get paid at the same time via a two-party check.  We are all leery about accepting a credit card payment, but is that an option you can offer?  Being creative is a key asset to success in credit. Find a way to get the order out the door and to collect the funds.

Your goal within the credit department is to maximize sales by managing risk and minimizing write offs.  This is the same throughout the year but even more important at the end of the year.  So how do you make that decision to ship or not to ship?  Are you going to be Santa or the Grinch?  My suggestion, pull out your red bag of tools & tricks and surprise the sales team, your boss and your customer and show them that Santa does really exist and find a way to accept the order and get paid.

I wish you all the very best during the holiday season.  If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to me.

Melissa Kobus, CCE, is the Credit Management Association Chairman and Regional Credit Manager for Anixter Inc., based in Anaheim, CA. She can be reached at 714-695-2219, or melissa.kobus@anixter.com

WRCC – CreditScape – An Excellent Opportunity to Learn and Network, by Melissa Kobus, CCE

Melissa Kobus, CCE, is the Credit Management Association Chair and Regional Credit Manager for Anixter Inc., based in Anaheim, CA. She can be reached at 714-695-2219, or melissa.kobus@anixter.com
Melissa Kobus, CCE, is the Credit Management Association Chair and Regional Credit Manager for Anixter Inc., based in Anaheim, CA. She can be reached at 714-695-2219, or melissa.kobus@anixter.com

As you probably already know, I am a big proponent of continuing education, which is why I attended the CreditScape – Western Region Credit Conference,  held at the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas last month. As someone who has participated in many seminars and events, this was one of the better programs I’ve attended.  I was impressed with the many first-time attendees attending.  I thought the conference overall was excellent. The speakers and topics were varied and well presented.  I learned about a lot, I met many new people and was able to connect with others who I had lost touch with.  There were so many different topics and I would like to share my thoughts on a few of the sessions I attended and look forward to your feedback and comments.

The Opening Keynote Speaker this year was Steve Zipkoff.  He energetically shared with us how to deliver customer delight in many aspects of our professional and personal lives.  I now know the 6 tools that I started implementing right away.  The one that hits home the most is to be a “fixer” not a finger pointer.  We all should be looking for solutions to resolve the cause and change it verses putting a band aid on the problem.  You can either fix the issue the right way or you will be fixing it again and again.  It is important to practice continuous improvement and be able to adapt quickly.  Steve expressed to everyone to behave like you own the business which is something I’ve believed for a long time.

I attended Rudet Fountain’s session on the changes in payment processing.  Does everyone understand how electronic payments are processed and what is changing?  If you attended this session, you would now.  B2B payment processes continue to change and improve but at what cost to your company?  How are banks standardizing communication formats so that data can be transmitted more easily?  What about credit card payments, I know my company gets requests daily to use a credit card to pay but are we ensuring our fee structure is the best it can be?  Is our processing at a Level 3 standard which could save my company a lot of money?  What about the new chip we are starting to see on credit cards – anyone know what that is for?  It is for fraud protection; which there are new rules for that and those need to be in place by Oct 2015.  Boy, lots to think about just from this session alone.

The Credit View was a fun session filed with excellent pointers and insight to other credit professionals’ struggles and achievements.  The panelist shared with the attendees how they broke into the credit field, how they work with the sales team and how they integrate with upper management.  The session was a takeoff from the TV show “The View”.  There was some banter and good opinions shared.  I was particularly impressed with the ladies on this panel, excellent role models for women in the credit profession, definitely making sure I am connected with all through LinkedIn or Facebook !

The Closing Speaker was one of my favorites, I am sure that cannot be said about many other economists but Chris Kuehl has a great way to share information and keep it light hearted and entertaining.  Chris is NACM’s chief economist and especially enjoys presenting to credit managers across the US.  Have you completed the Credit Manager’s Index with NACM, if you have, Chris is the one who is analyzing the data and telling other economy professionals what is happening in the business world.  He let us know that during an election year, things will be crazy that the economy has not taken off as well as everyone had hoped and an “Ebola czar” is not really needed.  Chris publishes a regular brief on changes and updates to the economy, I am definitely getting on his email list.

Overall, the WRCC was a great opportunity to learn.  There was also great network events too, “Fly Me to the Moon” was well attended and a super fun dance night!  I really encourage all credit professionals to mark their calendar and not miss the next conference, you will not be disappointed.  For those who haven’t seen them, photos from the event have been posted on CMA’s Facebook page.

I truly hope that the first-time attendees this year return for years to come and that training stays a key attribute for all credit professionals. What about you, did you attend (or wish you had attended)? Please post your comments and insight below.

Melissa Kobus, CCE, is the Credit Management Association Chairman and Regional Credit Manager for Anixter Inc., based in Anaheim, CA. She can be reached at 714-695-2219, or melissa.kobus@anixter.com

The Year End is Coming – What is the Credit Professional To Do?, by Melissa Kobus, CCE

As a credit manager, I am not sure there is any time of the year that is “slow” for me, especially not year-end.  There is always an account that needs attention, money needing to be collected, training that needs to occur, etc.  However, as we roll into the last quarter of the year, I will take a few moments to identify some action items to ensure that we will meet our goals for the year.

Melissa Kobus, CCE, is the Credit Management Association Chair and Regional Credit Manager for Anixter Inc., based in Anaheim, CA. She can be reached at 714-695-2219, or melissa.kobus@anixter.com
Melissa Kobus, CCE, is the Credit Management Association Chair and Regional Credit Manager for Anixter Inc., based in Anaheim, CA. She can be reached at 714-695-2219, or melissa.kobus@anixter.com

I know that 80% of our receivables base is made up of 20% of our customers.  I will review these accounts for any special items that could delay our payments coming in as they need to.  I will check with the sales team to see if their purchases will be ramping up for the end of the year so that the credit limit is in place.  I might make a customer visit to strengthen the relationship with my Company, expressing my appreciation for their continued support and to verify payment expectations for the year end.

It is house-cleaning time, or better yet account-cleaning time, my team and I will spend some time to ensure that our account disputes are being resolved for the year end.  We will scrub and clear as many disputes as we possibly can.  We will engage the sales team early in the quarter to give them plenty of time to address the issue.  I might even pull one credit analyst to spearhead this activity, and let them focus on only this activity.

I also take time throughout the last quarter to remind my team how important they are to me.  They have worked hard all year and I am asking them to make the push to close the year strong.  I want to keep them motivated and happy; I might take them out to lunch, for a cocktail after hours, or maybe let them leave an hour early on a Friday to miss the traffic.  I appreciate their efforts and recognize that as a team we are successful.  The recognition really is all year long but the last quarter can be more stressful than the others.

The year end is coming, sooner than we all probably would like.  It is a good time to reflect on areas of opportunity, and lead the team to the finish line!  What are some of the opportunities you look to as the end of the year approaches?

Melissa Kobus, CCE, is the Credit Management Association Chairman and Regional Credit Manager for Anixter Inc., based in Anaheim, CA. She can be reached at 714-695-2219, or melissa.kobus@anixter.com

The Power of Data and the Credit Manager, By Melissa Kobus, CCE

Melissa Kobus, CCE, is the Credit Management Association Chair and Regional Credit Manager for Anixter Inc., based in Anaheim, CA. She can be reached at 714-695-2219, or melissa.kobus@anixter.com
Melissa Kobus, CCE, is the Credit Management Association Chair and Regional Credit Manager for Anixter Inc., based in Anaheim, CA. She can be reached at 714-695-2219, or melissa.kobus@anixter.com

I was thinking about the amount of data that is available to today’s credit manager. Historical data and current facts are keys in making a decision to continue to support a customer.  It is quite amazing how much information is right at my fingertips.   Reviewing financials, a customers’ average day to pay and understanding their current needs is only part of my decision process.  It is important to have data from other sources too.

So who or what are those other sources?

First, I would highly recommend that you belong to an Industry Credit Group, such as any of the 60+ industry-specific ones that Credit Management Association (CMA) offers.  An Industry Credit Group is a connection that a credit professional should not live without.  It is a source to share data and experiences that are real-time, current and factual about customer trends, from people who share the same customer base that your company does.  It is a professional group that allows for networking and a great source of training.  Connect to find an industry group in your area.  I’ve professionally been a CMA Industry Credit Group member for 17 years.

Another source of data is credit reports.  There are many different kinds of credit reports available, including D&B’s business information report, Experian’s business report and Equifax’s small business report, and users of these reports know that each has its pros and cons, and the information can vary between bureaus. It is really up to the credit manager to determine which credit report best suits the needs of their business.  The data needs to be current and obviously accurate.  The report needs to be easy to obtain and cost effective.

The Big 3 bureaus have their reports, but have you looked at your local NACM affiliate for additional report options?  There are great reports that can be obtained there too!  Your local NACM affiliate can provide an NACM National Trade Report that has collected data from all members across the country.  I am also proud to announce that CMA has recently rolled out its own multibureau anscersX Report.  This report pulls data from all 3 bureaus and can be customized to include the data you need in one report.

The data in credit reports is very powerful.    A credit manager needs to know how the customer will pay in the future based on past trends.  Having the ability to pull a report that has the payment experience from the last month is a tremendous help.  I can’t imagine being able to do my job without access to data. How about you?  Do you find it easy to access data on your customers?  Does it help you make quick decisions with ease?  What other tools are you using?
Melissa Kobus, CCE, is the Credit Management Association Chairman and Regional Credit Manager for Anixter Inc., based in Anaheim, CA. She can be reached at 714-695-2219, or melissa.kobus@anixter.com

What Motivates The Credit Professional?, by Melissa Kobus, CCE

Melissa Kobus, CCE, is the Credit Management Association Chair and Regional Credit Manager for Anixter Inc., based in Anaheim, CA. She can be reached at 714-695-2219, or melissa.kobus@anixter.com
Melissa Kobus, CCE, is the Credit Management Association Chair and Regional Credit Manager for Anixter Inc., based in Anaheim, CA. She can be reached at 714-695-2219, or melissa.kobus@anixter.com

Credit professionals are a great group of people. They are hard workers. They are multi-taskers. They are consensus builders. They are goal focused. They are risk managers. But, what keeps them engaged and involved?

Motivation is defined as the reason one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.  So what motivates the credit professional to continue to perform and strive to be successful? This is a question I think about often. I manage a team of 10 credit professionals and each one is motivated differently. We have department goals and objectives and that influences their actions however it is more than that. Some are motivated by the bonus plan we provide. Some are motivated by the opportunity to learn more about our customers and our business process.   Some simply enjoy the challenge of getting the task completed, the account approved, the cash in the door, etc.

Will a challenging bonus program motivate you to be more successful? Our bonus plan is specific to cash results, past due balances and timely accounts reviews. In the past, it has also included turn-around time on applications, order releases and customer visits. A friend of mine once said, what gets measured gets done and that is what stays with me when I create a bonus plan.

Will the opportunity to learn more motivate you? Mastering a new task will keep you engaged. You should challenge yourself by learning a new “thing” every month. There are a lot of ways to find that new “thing”, webinars or classes, cross-training within and outside the credit dept, what about volunteering?

Will more engagement and influence in business decisions motivate you? The credit department has a unique role within the company; they interact with almost every dept. The credit professional can influence change, can offer insight to how a process works, and can help to make your business more successful. Think big, get involved, and challenge the barriers.

Everyone is motivated differently; I encourage you to think about what motivates you and make sure you strive to keep yourself challenged every day.

Have a great month!

 

Melissa Kobus, CCE, is the Credit Management Association Chairman and Regional Credit Manager for Anixter Inc., based in Anaheim, CA. She can be reached at 714-695-2219, or melissa.kobus@anixter.com

Chair’s Message: How to Spot Fraud, by Melissa Kobus

In today’s connected world, fraud is an epidemic that can hurt any company, big or small, and it’s becoming more common.

In my company, we recently were hit with some large fraud both with “phony” PO’s and stolen credit cards.  As credit managers, make sure that you are diligent about watching for the red flags so that we can stop these before we take a hit.  If something does not smell right, look right, etc. – ASK your credit analyst and investigate further.

Please pay attention to the following details when accepting orders (on terms or credit cards):

  • No contact except via email
  • Phone number is from outside the area or linked to Magic Jack phone
  • Urgency of getting a quote or in shipping material (must have it air freight today)
  • Email address is outside the normal address (gmail and yahoo too)
  • Reluctance to complete online forms
  • Typos and misprints on pre-printed information
  • Material type and quantity is out of the ordinary (hard drives, projectors, testers, etc)
  • Material has a high copper content and seems out of the ordinary for a credit card purchase
  • Shipment going to a different location or a location outside of their territory  (Use google earth to research ship-to address)
  • Shipment made close to a border town
  • Credit card number and name does not match the way the account is setup

Our best defense against fraud is a strong front line, so please make sure to keep your eyes open and ask questions, make phone calls, do the research.  We can continue to stop these thieves from hitting your company.

It is important to make sure everyone on your team gets this information.

What measures are your companies taking to prevent fraud? We welcome your feedback.

Melissa Kobus, CCE, is the Credit Management Association Chairman and Regional Credit Manager for Anixter Inc., based in Anaheim, CA. She can be reached at 714-695-2219, or melissa.kobus@anixter.com

CMA Chairman Wishing You A Rewarding 2011

Karen Schmidt

As an eventful 2010 draws to a close, I would like to thank you for being members of CMA.   Hopefully the knowledgeable staff, and CMA services, provided you with the superior service you anticipated.  My invitation for a personal phone call still stands if CMA ever falls short of your expectations or you have something to contribute to our success.

In short, we are committed to responding to your business needs and bringing you innovative ways to manage your credit responsibility as easily and effectively as possible. If you have any questions about how we can further help you, I encourage you to contact us either in person or by phone, and to check out the amazing number of resources we have online.

Thank you, once again, for being valued CMA members, and thank you for believing in the power of membership to further your career and education.  Going forward, CMA remains dedicated to doing everything they can to make your career and membership more manageable and rewarding.

Happy New Year 2011!!

CREDIT HAS RISEN!

Karen Schmidt

by: Karen Schmidt – CMA Board Chairman

The Western Region Credit Conference is behind us but certainly not forgotten.  I gained some powerful tools for my life and career.   I’m sure from the feedback and networking that every attendee feels they are a better person and credit professional.  It was a win, win with the educational value that was offered.   Although we experienced some interruption with a crazy power failure, don’t forget to makeup those classes.  You should have received an email from Debbie Mendoza to sign up for those upcoming Webinars.

As the host, and largest NACM affiliate, CMA’s staff did an outstanding job managing the events; Opening, Educational Sessions, Luncheon, Vendor Exhibits, and….Thursday Night Live will go down in history as a production, dinner and dance that will never be forgotten.  Thank you to all the staff for a conference that indeed inspired “CREDIT RISING” with the experiences and education gained by all.

The Thanksgiving Holiday is now upon us, and soon to follow, the December Holiday season.  Please join us at the CMA Holiday Networking Event on December 9th. This opportunity to celebrate and network with other association members should not be missed.  If you have not signed up yet you may contact Pat Garcia at (818)9725300-117 or Email: mailto:pgarcia@emailcma.org. RSVP For CMA So Cal Holiday Networking Event (433)

In the spirit of the upcoming season I would like to quote our WRCC closing keynote speaker, Debbie Lundberg, from one of her 10 strengths of an effective leader.  I think her words empower us to make the very best of our CMA membership and  credit experiences.

SHARE

“Being selfish enough to want the best and selfless enough to let others be a part of it. Knowing there is not just one leader, regardless of titles, and that results, victories and overall success in an effort of more than one. Sharing the opportunities and sharing of yourself by giving back in ways that work for you!”

Credit’s Rising – How About You?

Karen Schmidt

From Karen Schmidt, CMA Board Chairman

Just when we thought we were saying goodbye to summer the weather is really heating up! I hope you have made some great vacation memories, and are now preparing for back to school, and planning for the fall.

Do your October plans include the Western Region Credit Conference in Las Vegas?

If not, the encouragement you need is presented in the exciting video created by Mike Mitchell, President of CMA. Click here to see the video.

We need all the credit professionals we can get to inspire each other and deal with what we all hope to be a recovering economy. The WRCC is the perfect opportunity to network with your fellow members, professionals in the credit and finance arena, and many exceptional educational opportunities.

If you plan quickly you will save $100 by registering before August 31st. If you are still sitting back, unsure of what to do, take a look at the Phoenix Bird logo and think of what it stands for. The Credit Rising conference will inspire and raise you up above other credit professionals.

Happy New Year CMA Members!

Rob Meza, CMA Chairman

Well 2009 has now come and gone and we are now looking at a brand new year, with all the promise that a new year bring’s.

I hope all of you had a wonder holiday season, with an opportunity to be with family and friends, and you took sometime off to enjoy it!

With a new year, new challenges seem never to be to far behind. As 2009 ended it appears that the recession might be over and the turnaround will take place in 2010 / 2011. Only time will tell, however please keep in mind that your CMA Association is only an email or phone call away to help with your credit & collection needs. Please take advantage of these great services that CMA will offer in this coming year.

I look forward to another great year as well, leading the Association into the new year as well as the start of this new decade. There is a lot of optimism at the start of this new year and we as credit professionals have much to look forward too.

I wish each of you great success in 2010 and hope you take advantage of all the CMA education and programs that will be offered this year!

Best Regards,

Rob Meza

CMA Chairman of the Board – 2009 / 2010

Chairmans Message November 2009

Rob Meza, CMA Chairman
Rob Meza, CMA Chairman

I hope all of you had a chance to attend this years CMA’s Western Region Credit Conference just recently concluded in Las Vegas. Credit Warriors Unite was the theme and many topics were offered ranging from the basics of Credit & Collections to the Future of Credit, which I found to be very interesting.

We as Credit Professionals need to keep our ears to the ground and monitor the pulse of our profession. As many of you know our jobs and tasks have changed through out the years, and for us to keep up with all these changes, we need to keep ourselves informed and educated. One of the best ways for this to happen is take advantage of the many resources CMA has to offer from conferences to their webinars.

In addition I want to thank the CMA staff for an outstanding job once again in putting on this year’s conference. Year after year they do an outstanding job in getting top notch speakers and running the conference like Swiss clock precision. Thank you CMA staff for your hard work and efforts making this years conference an outstanding success!

If you were not able to attend this year’s conference please keep in mind that CMA has a wealth of webinars and seminars that will challenge, inform and educate you and your staff, so please take a look at www.anscers.com to find out the credit and collection treasures that await you.

As the holidays quickly approach I want to first of all thank you for supporting this association and I also wish you and your family a great holiday season. 2010 is just around the corner so stay tuned for even more great things from CMA!

Best Wishes,

Rob

CMA Chairman’s Message from Rob Meza

Greetings fellow CMA Members! I hope all of you are having a great summer!

Well the last several months have been very busy at CMA. From the NACM Credit Congress in Orlando, to our name change in June, to our President Mike Mitchell’s entry into the media world by promoting CMA in print and radio, our Association could not be in better shape!

As a follow up to my previous letter, we as members need to continue to take special care and attention to our Association. Since this is our Association, one aspect that needs constant attention is new membership. This is vital to the continued success and viability of CMA. Good prospects are those companies in your industry, companies with whom you who exchange credit ratings, peers who are credit managers at non-member companies, credit references on your credit applications and customers who sell business to business. In addition to making our Association stronger, your referral will enter you into our Member Referral Program where you can receive a $25 Target Gift card for each one of your referrals that become a CMA member. So bring it on and let’s see what we can do together!

Also don’t forget that CMA’s Western Regional Credit Conference is just around the corner on October 14th thru the 16th in Las Vegas! We have a great program centered on “Credit Warriors Uniting” to “sharpen our weapons, testing your shields and sparring with the best in the credit field.” It’s a great program and a lot of time and effort has been made to bring in the best speakers to further your education and gain valuable networking contacts for you and your company. Please take the time to review the program and sign up as soon as you can. The registration is now open and you can go to www.wrcc.biz to sign up!

Well this is it for now and I will to talk with you soon!

Greetings Fellow Credit Management Association Members

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Rob Meza - CMA Board Chairman

As most of you may already know, effective June 1st , CMA’s name changed to Credit Management Association to clearly show CMA’support to the every increasing function of credit management in business to business relations. Even though the name has changed CMA’s great products and services will continue!

 

In addition as a follow up to my letter from last monthwe as members need to continue to take special care and attention to our Association. Since this is our Association, one aspect that needs constant attention is new membership. This is vital to the continued success and viability of CMA. In view of this I encourage each of you to look at CMA’s new “Refer One” program. CMA is asking each of us to “Refer One” prospect for membership. Good prospects are those companies in your industry, companies with whom you who exchange credit ratings, peers who are credit managers at non-member companies, credit references on your credit applications and customers who sell business to business. In addition to making our Association stronger, your referral will enter you into our Member Referral Program where you can receive a $25 Target Gift card for each one of your referrals that becomes a CMA member. So bring it on and let’s see what we can do together!

 

Also don’t forget that NACM’s Credit Congress is just around the corner which is a great opportunity to further your education and gain valuable networking contacts for you and your company. I understand the economic drains each of you have regarding travel and many of you may not be able to join us in Orlando this year. In light of this please look toward CMA to help you with you educational needs and industry groups, to add value back to your credit position and to your company. CMA has a wealth of educational programs and seminars right at your fingertips so please take advantage of this opportunity to further your career and save some expense. For those that are traveling to Orlando for the Credit Congress I look forward to seeing you there!

Greetings Fellow CMA Members

Rob_meza It is hard to believe that another year has passed and that we are well into 2009. As your newly elected Chairman of the Board for the 2009/2010 term I will be writing to you on a regular basis to bring you up to speed on what is happening at the Association and keeping you informed on the latest movements and successes within the Association. 

First of all at the annual meeting just recently concluded, we proudly announced our name change. After 125 years in existence we have changed our name to “Credit Management Association”. This name change denotes the ever changing world of credit and collections and better encompasses what we do as an Association. Even though our name has changed the great products and services remain the same! 

In addition to our name change we will continue our efforts to create visibility within the credit and general business community. To increase membership we as members must be aware of our need to improve upon our association. Yes this is our association, CMA (Credit Management Association), and since 1883 we have remained true to this concept. In light of this responsibility and ownership I challenge each of you to find ways in which we can bring in more members, expand upon our seminars and webinars, and challenge each other to be the best Credit Managers we can be. (Refer One member to CMA today)

Last but not least I want to recognize and thank Mary Lynn Jordan, our past chairman of the board for the 2008/2009 term, and for her dedication and guidance this past year. Mary Lynn did an excellent job in guiding the association through some very critical stages and I thank her for her leadership and for the number of years of service she has given to the board, and to this Association. I look forward to working with her as Councilor to the 2009/2010 board, and to myself as incoming chairman.

In conclusion thank you in advance for your support as incoming Chairman, as well as
your support of CMA, and in return of your support I am committed to providing the best
leadership I can offer to this Association and to you as members.

Rob Meza
CMA Chairman 2009-2010

Mary Lynn Jordan, Final Chairman Message

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This is my final message as Chairman and I can honestly say this last year as Chairman has been one of the greatest experiences in my life. I not only have had the opportunity to meet and work with a great group of people who have served on the board in the past as well as those who are currently serving on the board, but I have also had the great experience of getting to know the staff at CMA on a more personal basis as well as other members of the association. 

It is clear that the entire staff of CMA has one goal in mind, and that is to be the best credit association there is. I’ve seen first hand the hard work, dedication and loyalty displayed by everyone that works there. It makes me proud to be a member of CMA. 

One of our goals this last year was to create more visibility for the members, the association, the services, the board of directors as well as the President and staff of CMA. My hope is that this will continue on. As times change, needs change, and the ability to remain relevant and add value to our members is imperative to our success. The more members the association has, the more valuable the membership will be. 

CMA’s Annual Meeting and Installation of Officers will be held on April 14th at the Montebello Country Club. There will be an educational session from 10:00-11:15 given by Michael Joncich and Richard Kaufman dealing with bankruptcy alternatives. Barry Elms will be the keynote speaker and if you have never heard Barry speak, you will be both entertained and educated all at the same time. 

Rob Meza is the incoming Chairman and I will be passing the gavel to him. Karen Schmidt will be the new Vice Chairman and Brian Atteberry will be the new Treasurer. Please join us for the annual meeting and take advantage of the great networking opportunities. I look forward to seeing you all there! 

All the best to you,
Mary Lynn Jordan

Credit Warriors Unite at WRCC 2009

As we head into March, the effects of the recession are becoming more and more apparent.  As credit professionals, the performance of our job responsibilities has never been as critical as it is now.  The good news is we have the tools and support we need with CMA.   The annual WRCC is one of the most valuable educational and networking experiences you can have.

This years Western Region Credit Conference is entitled “Credit Warriors”.  A very appropriate theme considering the battles we are going through.  And during this time of bad news around every corner we turn, there is MORE good news!  The Golden Nugget has dropped the room rates for WRCC 2009 from $99.00 a night to $49.00 a night!  Scholarships will be open soon, so please note the dates, October 14th-16th and educate the decision makers as to the necessity to attend this year, more so than in years past.

As always, I want you to know that I want to hear your comments, concerns and compliments, so please feel free to contact me directly.

All my best,

Mary Lynn Jordan
714-544-2700 x239

In Tough Times – Keep Your CMA Membership

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One of my goals as Chairman this past 9 months has been to write a message for the monthly newsletter every month. This month is especially tough. The credit crisis continues to evolve and is now hitting us all closer to home. With layoffs and pay cuts and shortened work weeks, it’s becoming harder and harder to remain positive in the light of all the chaos. Quite frankly, I’m thankful I still have a job! 

With that said, budgets are being cut and companies are looking for ways to save money. I urge you to make sure your membership with CMA is not included in those cuts. An annual membership costs less than $2.00 a day, and it only takes one customer that you made the decision not to extend credit to, for you to recoup the money spent on your membership. Now more than ever, your ability to get information that you can depend on, in order to make quick and sound credit decisions has never been needed more. 

Your membership with CMA gives you these tools, make sure they are not taken away. 

I personally want to hear from you with your questions or concerns with regards to your membership. If I can’t answer them, I will direct you to the person who can. CMA is here to support us through these times, so take advantage of all they can offer. 

All my best, 
Mary Lynn Jordan
714-544-2700 x239

A New Year, A New Start

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As the New Year begins, I like to look at it as a fresh new start.  With that said, there are some things that haven’t changed.  The credit crisis continues and I expect it will be this way for a while, so it is important for us as credit professionals, to stay on top of our game!

Networking, whether it be at trade group meetings, credit conferences, via email or via the “anscers Community”, will always be an excellent way to gain insight and information that will help us perform our jobs more efficiently.  Remember, the Western Region Credit Conference is an excellent opportunity to meet with other credit managers from across the country.  Make it a goal to attend this year!  It will be held on Oct 14th-16th at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas, and will be here before you know it!

Many of us “fall” into our jobs as credit managers.  CMA offers excellent opportunities for education and professional designation.  No matter how long you have been doing your job, there is always more to learn.  Contact Jodi Owens at 510-346-6000 Ext. 221 or Cheryl Hammond at 831-475-9482 for anything that relates to education.  They are ready, willing and able to help you take the next step in your career.

Remember, applications and nominations are still being accepted through Monday, Jan, 12th, for service on the Board of Directors for 2009-2010. If you are interested in either nominating a candidate or applying for a Director position, please complete the appropriate form on the following link.  Download the Director Application, click here.

Wishing you all a healthy and prosperous New Year!
Mary Lynn

Membership ROI and Participation

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As the year is drawing to a close, it certainly isn’t slowing down!  With the credit crisis which surrounds us all in one form or another, our need for good solid credit information is imperative.  As a long time member of CMA, I look at my “ROI”; return on investment, with regards to our membership. I’ve saved at least 10 times that amount of my annual CMA membership this past year by attending trade group meetings and being able to avoid the risky accounts!  The networking at the trade group meetings allows me immediate access to other credit professionals in my industry.  I can pick up the phone or send a quick email and know that the relationship and trust that has been developed will allow that person to share valuable information with me.  For those of you not in a trade group, please call Terry Camps at 818-972-5361 and let her know you are interested in forming a new trade group and CMA will do their best to make that happen.

Trade groups are only one part of the many services that CMA offers.  Please check out the website at http://www.creditservices.org/services/index.shtml and while you’re at it, check out “anscers” at http://anscers.com/.  There is a lot of great information and services available to members and non-members alike.

On a slightly different note, CMA will be looking for those individuals who would like to be more involved with the association and serve on the board this next fiscal year starting in May 2009.  You will be seeing information regarding this process and I encourage you to consider getting involved.  The board is made up of association members from large and small companies alike, covering many diverse industries.   My experience on the board these last six years has been very rewarding and educational and I encourage you to get involved!

Happy Holidays to you and may the New Year be a prosperous one for us all!

Mary Lynn Jordan
CMA Board Chairman

The Nature of Our Credit Conference

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If you were not able to attend the 21st annual Western Region Credit Conference that was held last month in Las Vegas, then you really missed out on something very special!  With the credit crisis we are facing as a nation and a world, our jobs as credit professionals has become even more challenging.  The sessions and speakers at this year’s conference addressed real issues that we are all facing.  Attendance was up over last year which tells me that management is seeing the importance of the credit function in their businesses, and how education and networking plays such an important role in that function.

I want to give special recognition to Jodi Owens, who, along with many other CMA staffers, is responsible for putting on WRCC each year.  Jodi, once again you have done a superb job in putting together an outstanding credit conference!  Thank you for your hard work and efforts to make this conference such a success.  This was only the 2nd conference I have attended and I will never miss another one!  Speaking of which, please mark your calendars for next years WRCC which will be held in Las Vegas at the Golden Nuggett, October 14th-16th.  Do what you need to do now to get it approved so you can attend.  Also, keep in mind there are scholarships available as well!

Kind regards,

Mary Lynn

Greetings to all our CMA members!

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CMA offers may different products and services, and I would like to highlight Education this month.  As credit professionals, education is extremely important and CMA has developed an educational program to meet our needs.  I have been in the credit field for 30 years, and I’ve recently decided to pursue my CBA, CBF and ultimately my CCE designations.  It’s never too late and there is always something new to learn. I think it’s important to promote the credit profession and we can all be a part of this by pursuing our education.  For more information on education, please contact Jodi Owens at 888-889-7913, or log in to anscers.com for all the educational events.

I would also like to make you all aware of a significant accomplishment of CMA’s President, Mike Mitchell.  He earned his CAE credential, which stands for Certified Association Executive.  In order to earn this, he had to demonstrate a high level of knowledge, ethical fitness and leadership in the field of association management.  Mike worked very hard to achieve this and CMA is lucky to have him leading this association to be the best it can be for all its members.  Congratulations to you Mike!

Have a great month and I hope to see you all in Las Vegas for The Nature of Credit Conference, October 15th-17th!

Best regards,
Mary Lynn

Chairmans Message from Mary Lynn Jordan

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August is here and we are on the downhill side of 2008!  A specific goal of our board of directors was to meet with a trade group outside of our own industry, not only to meet other members of CMA, but to also give more visibility of the board to its members.  This past month, I had the pleasure of attending the trade group meeting for the Electric Group.  I really enjoyed meeting everyone and in all the years I’ve been a member of CMA, I’ve never attended a different trade group meeting.  It was very interesting to see how they ran their meeting.  What I learned is that every trade group is different, and as time passes, groups adjust to the needs of its members.  I encourage all of you to give input to your own groups as to what will benefit the group as a whole.  Take an active role in giving your input and make your trade groups the best they can be.

I would like to encourage all the members of CMA trade groups to submit their trade data electronically if at all possible.  It takes me less than 60 seconds to submit my monthly trade data, and I submit my whole open accounts receivable.  The more each member contributes, the more benefits the whole trade group will gain.  It seems like a big hurdle, but I can assure you, the process is simple, quick and easy!  Once it is set up, you will be able to submit your whole A/R in seconds.  Please make a goal of getting this set up with your company and CMA.  They are ready willing and able to help you in this process and I can guarantee that you will reap the benefits of your efforts.

All my best,

Mary Lynn Jordan

Chairman’s Message from Mary Lynn Jordan

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The month of June just flew by and summer is here!  For those of you who were not able to make it to the Annual meeting in April, I’d like to “introduce” you to the Board of Directors serving CMA (pictured)and YOU, the members of the association.  In our efforts to increase VISIBILITY of CMA, (its members, staff and board), the board members will be visiting as many trade groups as we can over the next few months.  We want to hear from you and get your input as to how we can improve our association.  As times change and technology improves, we strive to meet the ever changing needs of our members.  We look forward to meeting you, and for those members who we are not able to meet in person, I encourage you to contact CMA directly with any input or questions you may have.  CMA Customer Support: 800-541-2622 x132 or on line at ariner@creditservices.org.

Have a wonderful and safe 4th!
Mary Lynn

Chairmans Message from Mary Lynn Jordan

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Greetings to All!

I want to start out this month’s letter with a little history about CMA.  CMA was first founded in 1883 and was called “Credit Men’s Association”.  Obviously a whole lot has changed since then, and that is because CMA has been able to stay relevant to the members over the last 125 years. 

An association is defined as follows:
“A group of people who voluntarily come together to solve common problems, meet common needs, and accomplish common goals.”

CMA’s mission is “To be the leading resource for credit and financial management by providing information, products and services for effective accounts receivable management and by promoting professional education and development.”

This is very important to remember.  We, as members of CMA, are responsible and accountable to be involved.  We have a responsibility to let the staff and Board know what we want our association to look like.  No one knows better than us, what is needed in order to perform our jobs.  As the role of the credit professional has evolved, and will continue to evolve, CMA has provided the tools needed to perform our jobs quickly and with confidence that we are doing the best job possible.  CMA has been able to do this because they listen to what the members want.  That is why it is so important for you as a member of CMA to give your input!

I would like to bring your attention to a new feature that Dina Amadril has recently introduced called anscers video tutorials.  These are short video tutorials on how to use the anscers.com system.  If you are not familiar with anscers, this is a site developed by CMA for credit professionals, and these videos are short and easy to follow.  Please check them out and give your feedback to Dina at the following email address: damadril@creditservices.org.

Lastly, on a personal note, I would like to remind us all that life is short, and balance in our lives is so important.  Take time for your family, your friends and for yourself.

All my best to you and yours,

Mary Lynn Jordan

 

Congratulations!!! On a very successful WRCC

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A very special thank you and congratulations to the CMA staff and all those that made this years Western Region Credit Conference a GREAT SUCCESS! 

Thanks to the hard work of Jodi Owens, Dina Amadril, Kim Lamberty and many others behind, and in front of the scenes, we had some great Key Note Speakers and session leaders that really gave us the added value that we look for at WRCC.  Thanks also to the volunteer workers that participated, and to the sponsors and exhibitors that gave us great support this year, and every year. 

Not only did we learn a lot but we had fun in the process.  Thanks to Raul Mendoza for heading up a great group of staff members, including our President, Mike Mitchell, himself, to put on a fun and entertaining, last night “PARTY GRAS”.  Contrary to rumors, that might be going around, yours truly did not win the dance off contest.  I’m fully convinced that aliens from outer space took control of my body and caused me to exhibit moves and gyrations that my body is not physically capable of doing, normally.  The following morning confirmed that.

The Monte Carlo Hotel in Las Vegas provided a terrific venue and the rooms, service and food proved to be top quality.

If you missed it this year, you missed out on a very valuable part of being a member of this great association, and I hope you will start planning for next years Western Region Credit Conference.  It truly is worth the money spent.  So dig into that education budget and make it pay for itself.

Again GREAT JOB on a GREAT EVENT!!!

Sincerely,

Terry Harries
CMA Chairman of the Board, 2007 -2008

October is INDUSTRY CREDIT GROUP MONTH

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We have set the month of October to focus on attendance at Industry Credit Group meetings. Let’s see how many group members will attend your specific Industry Credit Group meeting(s) this month. 

I know there are many of you that have been letting the meetings slip by because you were “just too busy to get away” for that hour or two,  “someone has been out sick” or any number of other excuses that get easier and easier to make.  But this month we would like you to really make a concerted effort to make the meeting.  Not just to please us, at CMA, but for you and your company.  We would like everyone to remember what it’s like to have full participation in a group meeting, to be able see old friends that you haven’t seen for a while, and most importantly to hear the verbal information that you can only receive when you attend the meetings in person. 

I know many of you have stories of how you went to a meeting and heard some information that eventually helped you save some money for you company.  If you think about it, you only need one situation like that and it probably will pay for your membership many times over. 

Those of us that have been around for a few years (or decades) can remember when the industry credit groups and the value we received was the one thing the brought us to the dance, so to speak.  Well for me, and I know I’m not alone, that value hasn’t changed.  At almost every meeting, I get good information that I would not have gotten if I didn’t attend.  I think sometimes we forget that value or forget to look for it, and I would like to see what happens when we shoot for 100% turnout. 

I think everyone will be pleasantly reminded of the value of Industry Credit Group meetings.  So I have asked the Staff and Board Members to help bring awareness to the Industry Credit Groups in October and I hope all of you will join in the effort and attend this month. Let’s see what a difference the group meeting can make in your life as a Credit Professional.

I appreciate your effort,

Terry Harries
CMA Chairman of the Board 2007 – 2008

August was a GOOD News Month

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And a good September morning to you all.  Hopefully everyone had a good Holiday weekend over Labor Day and you are refreshed and ready to jump back into the work routine!!!  RIGHT!!!!!!!!!.  Is it just me or does a three day weekend go faster than the two days?  Sure feels like it to me.

Anyway, I heard through the grapevine that a lot of good stuff was happening around the Association in August.  It turned out to be a record month for growing in New Members. That is particularly great news as this was one of topics of planning, for this year, at the Think Tank Conference for the Board and Staff members of the Association.NACM is one of the oldest trade organizations around and since CMA Business Credit Services is the largest affiliate of NACM, we want to make sure we continue to provide services and tools and benefits that will attract new members.  I was told we had twenty (20) new members joining CMA in August.  That really is GOOD news and I hope you will all continue to help the association grow by telling everyone you know about our great association and the many benefits that are available.  This is particularly true for the Industry Trade Groups.  If you think about it the more members you have in your group meetings the more information will be available for everyone.  So if you know of a company that should be in your group and is not.  Don’t hesitate to contact them yourself and invite them to join or at least tell your group secretary and let them make the contact.

August was also good, in that all the work was put in place for the launch of the new “RFI for Everyone” on 9/4/07.  Now everyone can use the RFI program, even if you are not currently a member of a specific trade group.  Again the more information we receive into the Associations data base the better the reports and overall information will be. 

Don’t forget about all the other valuable services that are available to members.  Like the Collection Division, Construction Forms Filing, The Auction Services and Adjustment Bureau for those customers that are looking for alternatives to Bankruptcy. 

And finally, on the subject of Don’t Forget.  If you have not registered for the upcoming Western Region Credit Conference (WRCC) on October 17 – 19, your time is running out to get the best prices on rooms and registration.  This year promises to be one of the best.  It’s our 20th Anniversary and the Staff is working hard to make it even more enjoyable than usual, so don’t miss it.

Here’s wishing you an enjoyable and prosperous September as well as the rest of 2007.

Sincerely,

Terry D. Harries
CMA Chairman of the Board 2007 – 2008 

A Busy Month – Full of Surprises

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The month of June proved to be a busy month, for me personally.  I had several meetings and conventions and on a personal note was the recipient of a surprise birthday party where about 70 of my closest friends and relatives took over a restaurant in Tracy, CA., and got me good.  It was a very enjoyable and up lifting experience, for me, and a birthday that I will remember for a long time.

Another very enjoyable experience was attending the NACM’s National Credit Congress and Expo that was held at Bally’s & Paris Hotel’s in Las Vegas.  It had been several years since I attended the National Convention and I was so glad that I went this year.  I’m told, by many that attend regularly, that this year was one of the best ever for both attendance, as well as content and exhibits.  I was impressed, particularly with the educational sessions that were made available, and the numerous choices that were offered.  Everything from testing for your CCE, or CBA, or CBF, to just brushing up on your Excel skills, or how to Negotiate with customers, and so much more.  I found it hard sometimes to decide which session to attend, because of having too many good choices at the same time slot.  I understand the attendance was somewhere in the area of 2,800 this year, and I believe that was a record.

For those who missed going this year, or for those that wish they could go again, there is a second chance for you coming up in October.  The WESTERN REGION CREDIT CONFERENCE to be held at the Monte Carlo Hotel and Convention Center also in Las Vegas, NV.  From the 17th through the 19th of October.  I know that a lot of work is being done, as I write this, to prepare for another great annual event, and you will soon be receiving the information and details for registration. 

The Staff at CMA always does a great job putting this together for us.  I would encourage anyone that is interested in getting valuable information, and finding tools to help you and your company manage Credit and Collections and Accounts Receivable along with other General management skill techniques, to attend this event.  I’m convinced you will get more good information in a short two or three days, than you would get in weeks of attending individual classes and seminars and training sessions.  All of which is presented by seasoned and very experienced and educated professionals. 

We are all fortunate to be a part of CMA Business Credit Services (NACM Affiliate), and to have valuable events like WESTERN REGION available to us, and it would be a shame not to take advantage. 

I will be there for sure to welcome each of you, and I hope you will come up and say hello, and let me the other Board Members and Staff know what we can do to make your experience better.  We are always looking for feedback so we can continue to improve YOUR association, and we welcome your suggestions.

Enjoy the upcoming summer months and I look forward to seeing all of you soon.    

Best Wishes,

Terry Harries
CMA Chairman of the Board

Move forward but don’t forget the past

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Terry D. Harries, CMA Chairman of the Board 2007 – 2008

I recently began my term as Chairman of the Board of CMA Business Credit Services. The first order of business was to plan and participate in the annual “Think Tank Conference” This use to be called the Board Retreat.  The purpose of this event is for the Board of Directors of CMA, along with members of the senior staff of CMA to get together and plan / talk / discuss / think about strategic “STUFF” connected with the CMA association.  Most of the tools and programs and information available to you today through CMA Business Credit Services, has, in the past, come out of this annual meeting of the minds.   

The attempt is to keep the association moving forward and keeping up with the changing times and technologies.  I am so proud of the efforts and accomplishments of the past participants and leaders of this organization, I can’t even begin to tell you.  All you have to do is look on anscers.com to see what I am talking about.  But, it goes beyond that.  The way that the staff of CMA has stepped up, over the last several years, to do what they can to make this organization the best it can be.  Not to mention the Educational Program that has given us the new webinars and courses available to all.  In addition you have the Encyclopedia of Credit and the Community Bulletin Board to get whatever information you might need.  It is no wonder CMA is recognized throughout the NACM organization as a trail blazer and leader in the Credit Industry, and I for one am proud to be a part of it.

This year at the Think Tank the major discussion seemed to surround the INDUSTRY CREDIT GROUPS.  This is an area that has been losing membership, not just at CMA, but, in other associations and organizations that have similar programs.  One of the reasons for this decline was thought to be, that maybe we have done such a good job of developing new technology that gives us real time information, that we no longer need to have the groups, as we have known them in the past, to get valuable information.  But, are we really considering the value of having that face to face meeting with other credit personnel from other companies?  How many times have we all gone to an ICG meeting and have heard some information about a common account that came out of a simple discussion at the meeting, that we wouldn’t have received on a written report.  How much money has been saved because we remembered some information that eventually kept us from sending out that order that we probably wouldn’t have been paid on.  Or to a company that we heard was maybe moving or going out of business or wasn’t making payroll.  Not to mention the value that you get just from networking with experienced Credit Managers and others in the Credit world.  How about the trust, and friendships, that have developed over the years.  There is also the educational value at meetings that have seen fit to implement that into their programs.

I know personally that there is a large representation of our membership that recognizes the value of the I.C.G.’s and the fact that many of us joined the organization just for that value.  Let me appeal to those of you who do not want to risk losing this valuable program.  We can save it and we can improve on it and it has to come from the members.  We need to continuously stress and inform those around us of the importance of attending these group meetings and contributing information and mentoring our less experienced members as to how to pass that importance on to those around us.  I would like to put out a challenge to all the Chairmen and Vice Chairs and to the Group Secretaries to find just one additional member that should be attending your group meeting.  Then find out from your specific group members what additional value they would like to receive from these meetings and try to fulfill that need.  I feel if we can’t accomplish strengthening this program, we could find our organization changing in a way that would be different than what we have found so enjoyable in the past years.

Whatever happens, I assure you we will continue to move forward and stay a leader in the industry, but let’s try to remember the past and what got us to dance and bring it along with us.

I’m looking forward to a great year and I hope you will all join me towards that goal.

And now the end is near…

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by: Roy Stout, CMA Board Chairman

I am dumbfounded that 12 months has come and gone since I became Chairman.  Where does the time go?  I honestly believe that time flies when you are having fun and as I have said before, I had a ball this year.  I am also one of those sick individuals who have a great deal of fun and derive a great deal of satisfaction from hard work.  I know the Board, the Staff and I all worked very hard this year to make sure we continued to deliver the products and services needed by our members to perform their jobs.

In the past 12 months, we gained a renewed respect for the value of Industry Credit Groups (ICG) and the important functions that they fill.  We have spent a great deal of time renewing our efforts to modernize and improve the ICG’s to reflect the vitality and demographics of our members.  Specifically, we have started an ICG Guerilla Marketing Group which meets regularly to evaluate the progress that we have made. 

We have developed some important alliances during the last year.  One of the most notably was an alliance with Q2C.  This organization provided significant support of our educational offerings during a very successful Western Region Credit Conference this last October.  Q2C has also had an impact on both the quality and quantity of webnairs we have been able to provide to our members.  Q2C should continue to be an important partner for the future success of our Association.

Speaking of online educational opportunities; this year for the first time ever, through the tenacity and dedication of our education people; we were able to receive accreditation from the National Association of Credit Management for our online courses.  This was a huge victory, for we can now provide our members the courses necessary, for the certification that they deserve, on their own time and from the comfort of their office or home.  It will not be necessary to drive to a classroom at some distant designated location.  Considering the cost of gas and where it is likely to go in the future, this is a huge win for our membership.

Although we stumbled a little at the launch of anscers v2.0, I feel we have now made a full recovery.  I also believe we have only scratched the surface of what this venue has to offer in growth and value for not only our members but for the users from all over the world.  The continued development and enhancement of this marvelous tool cannot be set aside for it has the capacity to be the guide and monitor for CMA Business Credit Services for the foreseeable future.

This year we introduced CMA Daily News, the daily blast of thoughts, trends and news important to the credit professional.  I love receiving important tidbits affecting my profession and work environment on a daily basis; this is the one e-mail that I do not mind receiving.

It was not all roses this year as I had to say goodbye to one of the true treasures of CMA Business Credit Services.  Erna Ohlsson retired after dedicating her heart and soul to this organization for forty plus years.  Good people come and go in any organization but some leave such voids that their departure is hard to accept.  The mark left by Erna on our Association will not soon fade away and we will all miss her.  I wish her well in all her future endeavors, for I know she will accept tasks in the future with the same dedication that she gave to us for all those years.

I want to extend my sincerest thanks to the many, many people who lent a hand and offered encouragement and support throughout my year.  I appreciate everything you did for me that made my job that much easier.  Together, I think we created an Association that is stronger today than it was when I took office a year ago.

The future of our Association looks very bright.  We have a new Chairman and a new Board who are very qualified to carry on as I am sure they are eager to do.  Our Staff and Officers of the Association are more engaged and more dedicated than ever to the service of our members and I am sure that will continue.   

So, it is time for me to step aside and let the new regime take its place.  Remember tired old Chairmen never die but rather they just fade away into the background from where they came.

Until our paths cross again, here’s hoping this year was as rewarding for you as it was for me.

It’s February Already, Time to Ramp Up

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From Roy Stout, CMA Board Chairman

This time of the year the activities at your association really begin to ramp up.  I am here to tell you that things are moving at a very fast pace.

Our Education Department is working overtime to keep the Association’s calendar full with webinars, seminars and group meetings right through the first quarter of 2007.  One of many noteworthy programs is the 3-part webinar series “Success Mastery” to assist you in managing work and life challenges.  The series was first presented in November 2006.  It was so popular and so well received by the audience, we could not help but to present it again.  This webinar series is presented by Jodi Walker, an outstanding speaker.  Many of us had the opportunity to hear Ms. Walker in Las Vegas at the Western Region Credit Conference.  Her presentations are filled with sound advice and practical applications.  If you have not heard her before, take this opportunity to get acquainted with her works.  For more information about this series and the other educational opportunities, check the “Events” tab on our website anscers.com, or click here.

Speaking of the Western Region Credit Conference, you will be happy to know that the planning is well underway for this coming year’s conference where we will be celebrating the 25th Year Anniversary of the conference.  Please let us know how we can make an already very good conference into a great conference which you will not want to miss.  We would love to hear from you.

This is also the time of year that we nominate one of our own to be honored as the California or Nevada Credit Executive of the Year.  We are searching for that individual who has made your work in the credit profession just that much better.  A mentor possibly, an outstanding leader, a constant contributor to the field of credit professionalism, a caring teacher, a dedicated colleague; you know who they are.  Why not nominate them for the Credit Executive of the Year Award which will be presented at the respective California and Nevada Annual Meetings by last year’s winners.  Further information about nominations and deadlines is available by clicking this link.

I would like to thank the nominating committee for completing their task.  I believe they have chosen a panel of very qualified individuals to be the Directors and Officers of your Association for the year 2007-2008.  The slate of selected candidates will be published soon.  I hope all of you will join me in giving our continued support to their future efforts in maintaining our status as one of the finest credit professional organizations in the country.  I wish to send my personal congratulations to the newly selected Directors and Officers.  I know from your resumes that you are all highly qualified and will do an excellent job.

I also want to extend my personal congratulations to our Collection Division.  Rich DeOcampo and his staff just recently accomplished an unbelievable 80% recovery rate on international claims.  Good job collection crew, keep up the good work.  It almost makes me wish I had some troubled international accounts.  If you do, make sure you consider our Collection Division for some seriously good results. 

And now for something entirely different, I hope everyone is as ready as I am to watch the Super Bowl this weekend.  As a Midwest boy, the game could not have played out any better with both Chicago and Indianapolis playing the big game.  It would be wrong for me to use this forum to promote any particular bias or preferences, so I just have one thing to say, “dah Bears”.  Seriously, be sure to take time off from the pressures of our jobs and have a really wonderful time at the Super Bowl party of your choosing.

Until our paths cross again, keep your eye on the ball and keep moving forward on the field of life…

Happy New Year ??

From Roy Stout, CMA Chairman of the Board

As I prepare to move forward with my planning for the year 2007, I wonder what direction our economic fortunes will take us this year.  It seems as though each article I have read has a different outlook or a similar outlook with a different twist.  Several CFO and other credit professionals that I have spoken with on this subject provide a similar pattern of opinions.  Each person seems to have a slightly different take on what the year 2007 has in store for us.  But my best guess at this point is, as the attorneys say, “well it depends”.

After digesting all the material that I have read and the opinions (solicited or unsolicited) that I have received, I would have to say that at least most authorities predict the changes will be moderate in nature.  Some people feel that we will experience a slight but important downturn in the economy.  But more people think that the economic growth will continue but at a much slower rate than in the past few years. 

My personal observations and projections (I hope nobody holds me to this) are that sales and revenues, much to my surprise, will continue to grow at a strong and steady pace.  There will be many more new customers with significant requests for increased availability of credit.  But I also feel more small businesses and financially challenged businesses will experience dramatic setbacks or complete failure.  I feel that the number of new Bankruptcies will rise notably in 2007. This, unfortunately, will be followed by an increased rise in bad debt losses.  These predictions will put an increased amount of pressure upon all of us to be at the top of our game.

In the early fall, I read several articles which stated that most CFO’s were budgeting for increased staffing in accounting personnel and specifically in credit and collection positions.  This would seem to be consistent with some of the ideas mentioned above.  But I noticed that as the end of the year approached, those same CFO’s reported that they had reduced their original projections for hiring in 2007.  Although they still planned increases in credit and collection staffing, it would be on a much smaller scale than originally predicted.  I also recently read that hiring of mid to upper level managers in the credit and collections field would be flat or possibly down slightly.  I am not sure I know what this information is trying to tell us. 

I am also very aware that the predictions continue to be that the traditional credit manager’s role is dramatically changing.  I think the prognosticators are right on the money with this prediction.  “Even when you are on the right track, going the right direction, if you are not moving forward, you will get run over.”  Education and training will be more critical than ever.  Don’t get left behind. Make sure you keep us at CMA informed of your needs.  We will do everything in our power to help you keep on the forefront of changes in our profession.   

I can’t help but think that the recent mid-term elections will be a factor in the economic conditions of 2007.  I think the election results have already been somewhat factored into the economic forecasting.  Unless something totally unexpected happens, I think a lot of the effect of the elections may have been already absorbed and they may not be a very big factor.

The biggest factor for the nation’s and the world’s economy has to be the Iraq war.  Unfortunately, the war is also the biggest wild card.  I can’t imagine what the future hold for everyone in that part of the world or what effect it will continue to have worldwide.  With Saddam Hussein execution this past weekend, I have to believe it is going to be a whole different ball game. 

I just know that I hope the very best outcome for all of the men and women who are in harm’s way as they serve their country in Iraq.  I have the same high hopes and best wishes for all the Iraq citizens who are working so hard to have a normal, peaceful life in a very troubled area.  As I celebrated the New Year this past weekend, I couldn’t help thinking wouldn’t it be wonderful if 2007 was the year that we finally achieve worldwide peace.

Until our paths cross once again in this New Year, have a prosperous and emotionally rewarding 2007.

‘Tis the season… from Roy Stout, CMA Board Chairman

‘tis the season…

I will let you fill in the blanks.  I suspect each of us has a phrase or two that suits us.  I can think of several:

…to be thankful.

Think of the tremendous support we receive from so many others.  We have the opportunity to work with a lot of terrific people within our companies.  We should be grateful for the support they provide us in accomplishing our goals.  This is a great time of the year to extend acknowledgment and appreciation to as many people as you can for the help that they have given you to succeed at your job.

How about a little something extra in the stockings of those love ones who make certain sacrifices, so that, we can pursue our professional careers?

…to be thoughtful of our past associates.

Think of all the people who have helped shape our lives both personally and professionally.  A short note to keep in touch with those that we have let drop from our day to day activities will reap huge rewards. 

Take a moment to reflect about those who have passed on to realize what they meant to us and to remember how they inspired us.

…to be introspective of recent accomplishments and recent disappointments.

This is where we, as credit professionals, excel.  We always reflect on our numbers every month, every quarter and every year-end (which is just around the corner for a lot us).  But I have often been a proponent of the belief that one is best served by a thorough review of our major disappointments.  For I feel that is where the best lessons can be learned and the greatest opportunities lie. 

This is an excellent season to mend fences with friends, peers, fellow workers or anyone with whom you might not have been the best person that you could have been.

…to think strategically about the future.

Another thing we credit professionals do pretty well.  We never have long to celebrate our successes or mourn our defeats, as time marches on and we need to concentrate on the next month’s collections.  But I think as we approach a new year we need to take a long hard look at everything.

Did you experience personal and professional growth this year?  If not, make that your commitment for the next twelve months. CMA, NACM, CFDD all offer excellent classes, webinars and now on-line courses.  Even educational institutions now offer more relevant courses for our profession.  Get your certification.

Were the goals of your company and your department met?  If not, now is the time to dedicate yourself to the task of meeting those goals during the next year.  If all of the goals were met, then set new and loftier goals.  In my opinion, the accomplishment of something you thought unattainable is among the most gratifying feelings.

Did you have an opportunity to mentor someone?  Another truly rewarding experience.  If not, try to accomplish that this next year.  It is easier than you think.  It can be started as simple as asking one of your peers to attend an industry credit group meeting or a seminar with you or even share a webinar.  The rest is easy because they will realize that someone is interested in their growth and success as a credit professional.

Were you mentored this year?  Seek out a mentor.  There is an overwhelming abundance of information and experience that so many seasoned credit professionals are willing to share with you.  Do not miss this opportunity.

…to enjoy!

So, I hope each and every one of you continues to have a great holiday season with friends and family.  I also hope, like me, you can’t wait to get started on the pursuit of next year’s hopes and dreams.

Until we meet again, enjoy your successes, don’t fret about your failures and keep pedaling as fast as you can.

Midterm Thoughts from Roy Stout, CMA Board Chairman

Well, here we are in the 4th quarter of 2006.  How and the heck did that happen?  It seems like yesterday I was examining the results for 2005 and dreaming of great successes for 2006.  Am I going to accomplish what I thought I would?  I believe my answer is, well, sort of.  How about you?

I started my rush towards the finish line-fiscal close December 31st-by Getting on Track at the Western Region Credit Conference, did you?  This is an annual event that I always anticipate attending with a great deal of excitement.  Although I renewed acquaintances with friends from as far away as Florida, there always seems to be a feel of regional hominess to this particular conference. 

I believe a great deal of the credit goes to our Las Vegas Team who went out of their way to greet everyone with bigger than usual smiles and hellos.  They were also very helpful in getting you where you belonged.  I would like to thank Kim Lamberty and all her terrific volunteers who contributed their time in the days leading up to as well as during the actual conference.  You guys made us feel as though Las Vegas was our second home and contributed greatly to such a well run conference.

Jodi Owens and her committee of volunteers did a great job of planning the conference:  by setting the curriculum; establishing the time and venue (which I believe worked out rather well); securing the speakers and vendors; and above all the successful marketing of a very good credit conference.  Thank you very much, Jodi, you and your crew deserve a big round of applause.

We truly appreciate all the vendors, for without their sponsorship this caliber of credit conference would be impossible.  I hope everyone had the chance to visit with them and sample the fine products and services that they offered.  These products and services definitely make our jobs as credit professionals so much easier.

Let’s not forget the presenters who took their time to prepare and present their materials.  This is no easy task, but it is quite rewarding.  I know that there were people in every session who took home some new thought, idea or even a best practice that they will use in this coming year.  Thanks to all of you for presenting a fine curriculum of varied topics.

Did I mention we are already working on next year’s conference?  We are and we would love your input.  If you attended this year’s conference, tell us what you liked that we should keep; what you didn’t like that we can improve or replace; and what you did not see that you would like to see.  If you were unable to attend this year’s conference, tell us what we can do to get you there next year.  Remember this conference is designed with you in mind, so please let us know what you think.  Next year’s conference will be our 20th year anniversary and we want to have an extra special event for you.  It will be in Las Vegas sometime between September 15th and October 15th.  The exact dates and venue will be determined soon and we will let you know as soon as we know.

As I begin the second half of my term as your chairman, I would just like to say that I am having a blast.  I have been working on a wide range of projects to continue to make CMA Business Credit Services, the largest Affiliate of the National Association of Credit Management, the very best it can be.  It has been a real pleasure for me to work with the group of dedicated professionals serving as your Board of Directors, to interact with our enthusiastic hard working staffs in Burbank, San Leandro and Las Vegas and to be engaged with the fine group of Officers that manage the whole process.

We all believe we have made some significant although subtle changes which will provide for our association’s success for the foreseeable future.  We hope you agree.  And whether you do or don’t agree, please let us know because it is all about you.  I, for one, love to hear  from you.

Until our paths cross again, don’t let the ghouls of bad debt get you and have a spirited Halloween.

Be Careful Out There

From Roy Stout, CMA Board Chairman

My parting advice to you last month (in CMA News) was to “…stay healthy, happy and out of trouble.” I spent some time this last month thinking about that very last comment. I soon realized just how easy it is for us, as credit professions, to get ourselves in real trouble, real quick.

 

Every time we answer a request for trade information, we put ourselves at risk for violating confidential rules, accusations of defaming one’s character and most importantly violating anti-trust laws. I find myself spending more and more time scrutinizing the volume of faxed/mailed trade reference requests I receive daily. I am shocked and amazed at the questions that are being asked on these forms. Would you believe that one such request the other day asked, “Would you recommend doing business with this customer?” No sooner had I recovered from the shock of that question and I was confronted with the next two questions: “What terms would you recommend?” and “What credit line would you recommend?” I was flabbergasted.

 

A novice credit professional that sends such a request is easily spotted and I am finding more and more of these requests that must be edited or rejected altogether. I think this may be a two sided sword. I think it shows that we are seeing more and more new people entering our chosen field. I find that exciting as these are the people we can mentor into the leadership roles of the credit profession of the future. The troublesome edge is what is going to happen when one of those novices actually answers those questions.

 

As a seasoned credit professional, I know that I not only have the legal obligation to notify the sender how inappropriate the form is and that I am unable to respond because of the legal implication, but I see this as an excellent opportunity to speak with the other party and help educate them. Most have been very receptive to my comments and stated that they were unaware of what they had done. Well, then it is like shooting fish in a barrel. I crawl up on my old soap box and begin to preach the merits of being a member of an NACM affiliate, participating in educational programs and attending an Industry Credit Group or Credit professional group. 

 

Speaking of Industry Credit Groups, this may very well be the safest venues to exchange trade information. As I understand it, to date, no Industry Trade Group has been successfully sued over the exchange of trade payment information. I contribute that to a group of individuals who are not always recognized or appreciated for their hard work and dedication—the group secretaries. These individuals not only keep us informed of local and national events, but run the meetings in an appropriate, ethical and legal manner. We all owe them a big thank you. 

 

I know there is another train of thought that believes that the best way to stay out of trouble while keeping their workload manageable is not responding to trade references and refer the inquirer to their local affiliate or another trade reporting service like D+B or Experian. That is definitely an alternative but I would miss the personal interaction with other credit professionals.

 

My whole thought here is that at any time, anywhere when you feel uncomfortable about what is being asked or what is being discussed, speak up—you are the only one who can protect yourself and keep yourself out of trouble, the ultimate goal.

 

Finally, my sincerest congratulations go out to all the recipients of our scholarships to the Western Region Credit Conference. I will seek each of you out at the Western Region Credit Conference and personally congratulate you and make sure you are getting full benefit of everything that is being offered.

 

As for the rest of you, had you “found the money”? If not, you should still register for the conference and reserve your rooms as time is starting to run out. Check our website www.wrcc.biz for deadlines and other important information.

 

Until our paths cross again (hopefully at the Western Region Credit Conference), good collections, good vibes and good thoughts.