How CMA Continues to Help Its Members, by Kim Lamberty, CAE

Change is never easy. In this volatile business environment, more than ever before, change is the only constant. In the past few months, there have been many changes in credit, which is why we decided to use the concept of “managing change” as the overall theme at CreditScape. Due to outside factors such as budget cuts in credit, automation and technology, the credit manager’s role is ever changing, and it is imperative that you stay up-to-date on the latest changes in the industry.

CMA has been changing as well. In the past few months since I became President of CMA, we have been evaluating every facet of our business. Our top priority in every conversation has been, and will always be, taking care of our members’ needs in credit.

We are the oldest and most experienced organization that continues to be your best source for information to make credit decisions about California and Nevada based companies, as we have been since we were founded in 1883.

Here are some of the changes that we have been working on behind the scenes.

  • We have enhanced the quality of the conversations at our Industry Credit Group meetings. If you have not attended a meeting lately, I strongly suggest you take the time to hear about the valuable account discussions that take place in those meetings and the best practices from companies that operate in your same vertical market.
  • We have created new strategic partnerships that provide members with the best information that they can use to make credit decisions. Here are several examples of these partnerships:
    • The new CMA Credit Report, which represents your best chance in finding data about California and Nevada based companies, with a nearly 20 percent increase in the number of relevant searches over the report it replaced.
    • An enhanced anscersX multibureau credit report that includes data from a number of sources such as D&B, Experian, Equifax, and others, to make it easier (and less expensive) to find credit information in one click.
    • A partnership with Credit Today to provide useful and relevant articles that affect the credit profession.
    • Low-cost webinars on topics that members have told us they want and need, increasing overall participation in our education program.

Here are some things about CMA that will never change:

  • We are loyal to our members and continue to strive to make your experience with CMA the best that it can be. Many of our staff members have been with CMA for more than 10 years serving your needs in credit with accumulated experience and knowledge.
  • We are committed to the credit profession.
  • We are headquartered in the areas we service.
  • We are dedicated to providing you, our customer, with the best value in credit services that you need to make informed credit decisions.
  • Our credit reporting and construction forms filing services is one are among of the best in the industry.

I encourage you to join me in continuing to support programs and services that make CMA great, as we truly are your partners in credit.

If you have suggestions on how we can make your association better or questions about our programs, I encourage you to reach out to me at 702-259-2622 or by email at klamberty@emailcma.org.

We thank you for your continued loyalty and patronage.

Predicting the Future, by Joel Block

Did you ever notice how some people always know when the light is going to turn green while sitting at a red stoplight? Do you think maybe that they are looking side-to-side for the predictor about when the green light is going to turn red going in a cross direction? The same in business, there are some people who just are more in touch with signals and signs that point to trends and activities that are about to take place.

Driving is a great example of being predictive and looking for signs that indicate trouble or that help to change your strategy. There are clear rules in driving. One should stay a certain distance from another car in driving. However, sometimes cars do not apply their brakes evenly and they will jerk on their brakes a lot like in business sometimes people do not do things in the smartest way. When you are behind that kind of driver, maybe the best strategy is to look at brake lights of a car ahead of him so you can get a sense of when the slowdowns are coming. Business people need to develop signs of their own that are similar to the kinds of signs that drivers work toward or use. Similarly, traffic signals and the way that you can predict when a light is going to turn red based on the yellow or when a light is going to turn green based on the crossing red. What are the signs you are looking for?

When you come to CreditScape, I’ll be talking about some of these predictors in helping you navigate a changing business environment. With more metrics than ever before available, and the adage of “doing more with less in credit” becoming a reality for most businesses, attending an event like CreditScape will help arm you with tools to do your job better. Visit www.CreditScapeConference.com for more information. I hope to meet you there.

Joel Block is a consultant and long-time venture capitalist and hedge fund manager (gobbledygook for “professional investor”) who is based in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles. He will speak on Managing Change in Your Credit Deparment at CMA’s Spring CreditScape Summit on April 4-5, 2018. For more information about the event, visit www.CreditScapeConference.com.

Sometimes, You Have to Get On an Airplane, by Joel Block

Unfortunately, we can’t accomplish everything by telephone, email, webinar, TeleSeminar, text or Skype. There was a great United Airlines TV commercial in the 1990’s with a CEO passing out airline tickets to his team telling them to get “face to face” with the customers once in a while.

Some years ago, I found myself in a similar situation, up against such a frustrating problem, that I finally got on an airplane to go and solve the problem in person. The result was shocking, and fast.

I started my career in the CPA business in the mid 1980s, when I worked for PriceWaterhouse (now called PwC). The last account I worked on at PwC was a giant syndicator. My job, with an army of other guys, was to convert the books and records of over 500 partnerships into tax returns. The accounting was horrible and the tax work was tedious but I loved reading the partnership agreements. So I left the firm and went straight into real estate syndication but along the way, I became a CPA in Colorado but I gave up my license after 10 years because I didn’t practice accounting anymore.

At one point in time, it became advantageous for me to reactivate my CPA license. As an Expert Witness, having a CPA license adds to my credibility.

Even though I worked for PwC 25 years ago, the HR department sent a letter to the California State Board of Accountancy indicating that I did work for the firm, but the CPAs at the firm who I worked for have all either left or by now, retired. Therefore, no one could vouch for the work I did. Unfortunately, the State Board of Accountancy wanted a CPA to sign off on my hours worked at the firm.

I was unable to get a CPA at PwC vouch for me and the State Board of Accountancy wouldn’t budge. This went on for over two years and I couldn’t bring it to resolution although there was one woman at the State Board that been overseeing my case and the back and forth of our discussions.

One day I had enough and I decided the only way to break the log jam was to get on an airplane, go to Sacramento and physically show up at the offices of the State Board of Accountancy. I didn’t have an appointment but I knew they were open.

When I arrived in Sacramento, I called the State Board of Accountancy. As expected, the person that I had been dealing with was in the office. Not having an appointment would normally be a terrible idea but showing up unannounced seemed like a better tactic in this situation. So I showed up.

I explained the problem to her in person one last time – that no CPA at PwC would sign off on my hours, but their HR Department had done so, and it just didn’t seem reasonable that I should be penalized because I wasn’t able to find a CPA willing to sign off on my hours.

When I explained the situation in person, it seemed to make more sense to the woman who was working with me. Maybe she was more focused on the problem because I was standing in front of her. She went and got her manager who ran the initial licensing unit, and after I explained my story to her, it wasn’t five minutes before she signed her name on an approval slip and attached it to my file. A problem that I had been working on for over two years was resolved in less than 15 minutes.

There’s a big lesson here. Sometimes you have to just get on an airplane and deal with the problem head-on and face-to-face. If you don’t do that, sometimes you’ll drown in your problems for years on end. If you deal with people that are far away or if you sometimes get in the habit of talking to people only by telephone or other electronic media, you’re missing the boat. Sometimes you just have to change things up, get on an airplane, and go make it happen. It worked for me. Maybe this advice will help you.

When you come to CreditScape, I’ll be talking about change, including changing your mindset about how you do your job and approach credit. As the credit profession (and the whole world, for that matter) has changed with technology, attending an event like CreditScape will help arm you with tools to do your job better. Visit www.CreditScapeConference.com for more information. I hope to meet you there.

Joel Block is a business advisor and long-time venture capitalist and hedge fund manager (gobbledygook for “professional investor”) who is based in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles. He will speak on Managing Change in Your Credit Department at CMA’s Spring CreditScape Summit on April 4-5, 2018. For more information about the event, visit www.CreditScapeConference.com.

Coming Soon: How to Effectively Manage Change in Your Company’s Credit Department

The only thing constant in business these days is change. As the organization changes, how can credit professionals respond effectively to internal and external changes beyond their control? How can credit professionals proactively bring change to their organizations by changing process and policies to increase cash flow? How do you create a credit culture where people think about doing business differently and are purposeful about making and accepting change that they believe will make a positive difference?

Stop us if you’ve heard any of these scenarios before. Your boss comes to you and tells you that you need to start accepting credit cards (when your company hasn’t done that before). How about this: your company is repurposing someone in your already short-staffed credit department. Or, maybe your previously great-paying customer of many years tells you, “We’re changing your terms. You must accept in order to continue to do business with us.” Or, have you wished that you could have that proverbial “seat at the table” with upper management?

At CMA’s Industry Credit Group meetings, the majority of the best-practice conversations that were had in 2017 had something to do with managing changes like the ones mentioned above. As a response to these conversations, CMA has put together a program centered around managing changes like these, to help you do your jobs better. The program is geared towards practitioners with all levels of experience and expertise to leverage the knowledge and experiences of practitioners who can help you be ahead of the curve and effectively manage change.

The 2018 CreditScape Spring Summit, powered by United TranzActions, will feature a two-day workshop that includes a keynote address on change management, training sessions, expert practical and legal advice, and networking with other credit professionals. The goal of CreditScape is to provide an opportunity for credit practitioners at all levels of experience and expertise to come together to solve problems and provide solutions for their real-world issues they face at work.

Over the next few days, our keynote speaker Joel Block will be guest blogging about dealing with change in your credit operations, a topic he will explore at CreditScape.

We invite you to join us at the Spring CreditScape Summit, powered by UTA, April 4-5, 2018 at the Hyatt Regency Orange County (or view the website at www.creditscapeconference.com), and to read the blogs, as the information you’ll receive can help you do your job better in the long run.

What changes in your credit department do you think are the most difficult to deal with? We welcome your feedback.

Here are the other posts in this series: