Typically, credit managers aren’t performing back flips and climbing over each other at the chance to lead presentations on case studies. The dreaded topic is a producer of much anxiety for those having to outline their credit decisions to a third party, whether it is a boss or their peers.
Susan Lujan, corporate credit director, Kenworth Sales Company, explained that credit managers can’t let their fear of this practice stand in the way of possible advancement in their careers, enhancement of their knowledge base or participation in CMA’s education program. She remarked that oftentimes the fear is anchored to who will be looking at the case and will they be able to understand the points that are being presented.
“So many times we have the knowledge, but it is about presenting it,” said Lujan during the CMA-sponsored teleconference “Case Studies and Presenting Credit Decisions—How Even You Can Get Over the Fear.” “We just witnessed today, with the elections being over, how much eloquence can carry you forward.”
Lujan added, “Your presentations are a reflection on you. Our credibility is often judged by the way we communicate our decisions.”
There will likely be a point in every credit manager’s career when they will have to justify a credit decision. Lujan pointed out that case studies are something credit managers use day-in and day-out; it’s just that the anxiety of public speaking and unfamiliarity with the presentation process culminate into problems. The first step in the process is to reduce a case to a more comfortable idea so that there is an easily defined way to communicate it. She likened the process to packing for a trip.
“Our cases in credit are much the same,” said Lujan. “It depends on our destination. So, when we’re done planning, we may create an itinerary, an alternative plan or maybe even decide this is something we don’t even want to do.”
A credit case is about gathering information, analyzing and deciding whether it is good or bad, and then making a credit decision based on what was discovered. The company’s credit policy, corporate goals and the customer’s application serve as the foundation of the case. Of course, the investigation becomes more involved as the dollar exposure increases.
Lujan outlined that the C’s of credit, SWOT analysis (strength, weakness, opportunities, threats) and financial information are already ingrained into the credit decision process. The backbone of a case study presentation is inherent to the job function; it is cutting that information into digestible pieces.
“The foundation, the structure, the thought process is all the same, regardless of the industry and the dollar size,” said Lujan.