New Webinar Series Helps Credit Professionals Understand Bankruptcy

As a risk manager, you know that bankruptcy by your customers is one of the biggest threats to try to avoid. But what happens when your good customer files bankruptcy? CMA has put together a series of webinars addressing bankruptcy and what you can do to understand the process in order to help your company get paid.

These sessions will guide you to:

  • Understand the difference between the major types of corporate bankruptcy, and what happens to outstanding debts when your customers file.
  • How anti-trust laws can affect a bankruptcy.
  • Learn about your company’s rights when your customer files bankruptcy.

Webinars are:

Sign up for these and other events at http://www.anscers.com/upcomingevents.aspx or contact CMA Member Relations, at 800-541-2622.

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

Lee Clutter, CBA, Honored with CBA of the Year Designation at CreditScape

Being nominated by your peers for an award is something special. It is an accolade just in the nomination itself. It gives you time to pause and reflect on your accomplishments.

Lee Clutter, CBA, the CBA Designation of Excellence winner for 2017, received over 15 letters of recommendation from his peers, coworkers and credit professionals. He has worldly knowledge of credit surpassed by very few. He has been in credit for over 40 years and truly demonstrates credit excellence. He is a second-time award winner, who is actively involved with CMA’s programs and services. Congratulations to Lee Clutter, CBA from Smart Modular Technologies.

The CBA Designation of Excellence Award was presented during the Annual Meeting portion of the CreditScape Spring Summit in Garden Grove, CA on April 12.

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

What’s New at Credit Management Association?

CMA Logo

Greetings from CMA!

Now that the holidays are over, Credit Management Association is back with full steam ahead into projects that can help your company manage risk.

Here are a few of the projects we’re working on that you should be aware of:

– CMA recently announced our CreditScape Spring Summit, which will focus on process improvements in the credit department and cutting costs. The one-day event takes place April 12 in Garden Grove, CA. More info: www.creditscapeconference.com

– CMA and AG Adjustments are proud to announce a new collections-related webinar series that is must-attend material for anyone who works in that field. The webinars feature three of our most popular speakers: Bart Frankel, Dave Osburn and Greg Powelson. http://creditmanagementassociation.org/2017/01/31/cma-announces-new-collections-webinar-series/

– Future dates have been set for CMA’s new International Credit Best Practices Forum. For U.S. companies that sell abroad, this group can help you navigate some of the hurdles you might experience when selling overseas. More info is here.

– With all of the bankruptcies in the news last year from longtime strong companies, when is the last time you evaluated your credit information sources? CMA has a great resource who handles reports from all of the major bureaus and can get you the best solution for your company, not just the best solution from one bureau if you went direct. Learn more here.

– Several new advanced lien law webinars have been announced. If your company does construction-related business in Texas, California or Nevada, you should attend these sessions, which can be found on our education calendar. Details: http://www.creditmanagementassociation.org/events

– Speaking of construction-related business, CMA’s fast and accurate construction lien filing services can help protect your receivables to ensure you get paid on those projects. More: http://creditmanagementassociation.org/construction-forms-filing/

 

Are you getting CMA’s updates, including news and updates from around the credit and collections profession? If not, subscribe to our newsletter here: http://conta.cc/1tA5pOE
If there are any other services you need to help your credit operations run smoother, we’d love to talk to you about ways we can help. You can reach us at 818-972-5300 or at www.creditmanagementassociation.org.

Thanks for reading!

CMA Announces New Collections Webinar Series

CMA is proud to announce a new series of three webinars that will focus on tips and tricks you can use in your business to improve your collections results. The webinars, which are sponsored by CMA’s collections partner AG Adjustments will feature practical advice from a few of CMA’s most popular speakers: Bart Frankel, Dave Osburn and Greg Powelson.

Dates (and session descriptions) can be accessed under the links below:

The webinars are highly interactive, and are geared towards credit professionals with all levels of skills. We hope you’ll participate.

For more information about CMA’s education program, and a complete schedule of events, click here.

CMA President’s Blog: The Influence Edge: Management Training at CreditScape, by Mike Mitchell

CMA President and CEO Mike Mitchell

During the holidays, CMA staff called and emailed most of our members to help us determine their goals and objectives for 2017, and what they thought their biggest obstacles would be. Thanks to all of our members who took the time to speak with CMA staff to share those goals, as we learned a great deal from the process, to help us shape what we’re doing to help our members. Many of you told us that (not surprisingly) that you want to reduce DSO, keep your A/R balances current, reduce late payments and bad debt write-offs, and keep customers paying on terms. Obstacles cited were customers requesting extended payment terms, reduced staffs, and bankruptcies. We also heard throughout that many of you need to overcome these obstacles and achieve your goals more efficiently and for less cost.

The upcoming CreditScape Spring Summit, which takes place in April, speaks to your concerns, as it will feature presentations and discussions that focus on helping you streamline operations and create efficiencies that will reduce the cost of doing business.

Kicking off the Summit is Dan Goldes’ presentation, “The Influence Edge: How to Get What You Want.” Why are influence skills important for credit managers? Credit roles are by their nature cross-functional – internally, you work for a senior finance executive, but you work with sales, order entry, billing, customer service, legal, shipping, and maybe even procurement. Goldes says that, “with the horizontal structure of today’s progressive organizations, it is increasingly important to ask for and receive the support you need to accomplish your goals. The most effective way to do this is through the strategic use of influence skills.”

Creating efficiencies that will reduce costs will require change, and change requires buy in. You will likely have to get approval from senior management to implement those changes (and the costs associated with them), and you will have to convince staff to adopt those changes. Both tasks require influence skills – without them, process improvements may not be successful, and indeed may not happen at all. When you attend CreditScape and learn about process improvements and tools that can create efficiencies and cost savings, we want you to feel empowered to take that knowledge back to your office and get things done. Dan says, “By using influence skills strategically, others will be more willing to help move organizational processes along without resistance.”

Additional programming at CreditScape will include a panel discussion from real-world credit practitioners explaining areas in their businesses where they’ve achieved process improvement, CMA’s version of “Speed Networking,” and other interactive events geared towards helping members create efficiencies and reduce costs in their credit operations.

At CMA, we are dedicated to helping develop educational programs that speak directly to your real-world credit needs and concerns. I encourage you to reach out to my team at CMA (or respond to this blog) if there are other topics that you think could help your business. I really hope to see you at CreditScape in April.

President’s Blog: UCLA Anderson Forecast predicts the outcome of the 2016 Presidential Election

CMA President and CEO Mike Mitchell
CMA President and CEO Mike Mitchell

Every quarter the UCLA Anderson School of Management hosts the highly reputable (and influential) UCLA Anderson Forecast, an economic forecast for the U.S. and California. As an Advisory Board member of UCLA Extension’s Credit Analysis and Management Certificate Program, I was invited to attend the September 2016 Economic Outlook, a live presentation by the economists and economics professors who contribute to the UCLA Anderson Forecast. You can read more about the event on the official UCLA Anderson Forecast blog, but here are some highlights.

 

The theme this quarter was the impact of the economy on the Presidential Election. David Shulman, Senior Economist for UCLA Anderson Forecast, opened the session with a non-partisan breakdown of the major economic policies of both major party candidates for President. For me, it was nice to see policy differences in black and white without the political spin of the candidates and their campaigns. Bottom line, Shulman concluded that no matter who wins, Hillary Clinton’s approach (increased taxes and increased government spending) and Trump’s approach (massive tax cuts, changes in trade policy, less regulation, and yes, increased government spending) would BOTH increase the deficit. The reason – both plans assume a national GDP growth rate north of 2%, but Shulman argued that without improvement in productivity (maybe) and significant growth in innovation (unlikely), GDP will remain on a growth path of 2%.

 

Jerry Nickelsburg, Adjunct Professor of Economics at the Anderson Business School, gave his forecast for California. While still one of the fastest growing states in the U.S., growth of California’s $2.5 trillion economy is slowing because the state is close to reaching full employment. Declining manufacturing coupled with historically slow population growth will continue to restrain economic growth. Nickelsburg also warned that a trade war would have a greater negative impact on California than most states.

 

Nickelsburg also presented some interesting stats on small business. I didn’t realize that the proportion of small businesses (defined as enterprises with 10 or fewer employees) in Los Angeles County is much greater than the proportion in the U.S. and 26% of employment is L.A. County. To me, that means that small business is (and has been) a significant part of our local economy which CMA has not been able to reach. Perhaps CMA’s strategic partnership with the local SBA will provide more opportunities to reach those business owners who may not fully understand how to leverage business credit for the benefit of their businesses.

 

Shifting from local to global trade, I learned more about the controversy surrounding the broad-ranging free trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Given that much of California’s economy is dependent upon international business flowing through the Ports of Los Angeles (L.A. is the #1 export district in the U.S.), Long Beach and San Francisco, why wouldn’t a free trade agreement that represents 40% of the global market be good for our local and national economy? The panel of experts argued that intense opposition to TPP is grounded in a retreat into protectionism, a general reaction to insecurity and uncertainty. Most interestingly, they claim that TPP is not as much about free trade as it is about anti-free trade because of all the exceptions in the agreement for goods like drugs, intellectual property, and dairy, just to name a few. I suppose that’s the fine print.

 

Economist William Yu concluded the morning session with a presentation of an economic model that puts a weight of 51% on each state’s real median household growth to predict the outcome of Presidential elections. A 10% weight is put on economic performance factors, GDP growth, Misery index, and state median income growth; demography, religion, and “other” factors such as candidates’ character, leadership, trustworthiness, campaign messages and strategies are weighted 13%, 3%, and 20% respectively. Since the election in 1972, the model has correctly predicted the outcome of 8 out of the last 11 Presidential elections. The model incorrectly predicted the elections of 1976 (Carter v. Ford), 2000 (Bush v. Gore), and 2012 (Obama v. Romney). Yu stated that the model currently gives Hillary Clinton a very slight edge over Donald Trump, but he was quick to say that it is within the margin of error and with 20% of the prediction weighted on factors like character, leadership, and trustworthiness, there is no predicting the public’s taste.

 

So why am I writing about this? There are several reasons. For one, it proves that economic data can be used to predict a lot of things, including the outcome of a presidential election (or how liberal your company might be in assigning trade credit). It also nicely demonstrated the whole “cash to cash” cycle that was discussed at length at CreditScape and in various blogs throughout the year. Finally, in the glut of credit-related content that we’ve been talking about all year here, I’m interested to gauge member interest in hearing more about topics like this. As we’re putting our education calendar together for 2017, I’d love to know what topics you’re interested in learning more about, including economic forecasts like this one. Feel free to leave comments below.

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

How CMA Supports Collaborative Learning and Leads Change in Credit Operations, by Mike Mitchell, CAE

CMA President and CEO Mike Mitchell
CMA President and CEO Mike Mitchell

Thanks to all the credit practitioners, industry experts, and industry partners who participated in the many valuable conversations at CMA’s recent CreditScape Summit. Our goal was to create an interactive, collaborative learning environment, and I was so pleased with the high level of sharing among all participants throughout the two-day event.

 

I was equally pleased with the audience response to facilitator Bob Shultz’s approach to process improvements within what he calls the Cash-to-Cash cycle. Also known as the cash conversion cycle, Shultz emphasized that the role of credit management extends beyond basic credit and collections processes. There is the opportunity to impact the company’s liquidity through good inventory and accounts payable management, in addition to traditional accounts receivable management. Collections trainer Bart Frankel recommended that credit people take responsibility for helping to resolve issues that arise out of these “other” departments, as they ultimately impact the credit department’s effectiveness in granting credit and collecting receivables.

 

Experienced credit practitioners and other credit industry experts shared specific examples of how they successfully influenced and improved processes across the Cash-to-Cash cycle and created more cash flow from operations.

 

Another example of how CMA is advocating for the expansion of the traditional role of credit within the enterprise is the suggestion that credit can support procurement in evaluating the risk of critical suppliers. Recently, I had the unique opportunity to participate as a panelist in the fourth annual Global Supply Chain Management Conference at USC’s Marshall School of Business. As panel moderator, CMA Member Alvin Moreno, Director of Global Supply Chain Credit Risk with Nestle USA, made the case that the credit department is best positioned to help the procurement department assess the financial stability of a company’s suppliers. In the wake of shipper Hanjin’s bankruptcy, supply chain disruption has continued to grow as a concern for companies that rely on critical suppliers, which gives credit the opportunity to add new value to the business.

 

As a panelist, I told the audience of supply chain professionals about how CMA has worked with Alvin, his team at Nestle USA, and other CMA Members to create a special credit group in which credit managers collaborate on processes and best practices in supplier risk evaluations. More information about that collaboration is here.

 

Clearly, we at CMA are big fans of process improvement through collaborative learning. But as I mentioned in my opening remarks at CreditScape last week, credit managers need to step up and become credit leaders if they are to be successful in driving the organizational changes necessary to make those process improvements a reality.

 

How are you leading change in your organization? I welcome your feedback.

CreditScape Fall Summit Delivers the Elements of a High-Performing Credit Department

The CreditScape Fall Summit, Powered by United TranzActions, an interactive learning seminar and workshop took place September 22-23 at the Doubletree by Hilton Sonoma. The event delivered the elements of a high-performing credit department, providing attendees with dozens of ideas to bring back to the office, according to preliminary survey results that were tabulated after the event.

 

With the common theme of “the elements of high performing credit departments,” attendees commented that the sessions gave them insights on understanding the entire cash-to-cash process, understanding credit from the standpoint of the CFO, getting to “yes” with the sales department, and especially the 6 steps to improving the collections process. Also a hit were the panel discussions where attendees heard from their peers how they have successfully implemented these processes.

 

Additionally, for the second event in a row, every person who submitted a preliminary survey said they’d likely recommend CreditScape to a colleague.

Here are some photos from the event:

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Plans are forthcoming for CMA’s Spring event and will be announced as soon as possible.

 

Thanks again to our event sponsors United TranzActions, Dade Systems, Vantiv, CreditPoint Software, Bectran, IAB, Emagia / TheCreditApplication.com, Ansonia Credit Data, AG Adjustments, NCS and Dun & Bradstreet, and to all who attended the event!

CMA Announces CreditScape 2016 Fall Summit and Workshops Schedule

For those credit professionals who are interested in implementing process improvements in their credit departments, striving for a high-performing credit operation, you won’t want to miss the CreditScape Fall Summit, powered by UTA, September 22-23, 2016 in Sonoma, CA.

We work in a “do more with less” world. Practitioners in the CreditScape are impacted more than most. Dedication to process improvement is one of the only ways to achieve high-performance results in the face of ever-shrinking budgets. The CreditScape Fall Summit provides a powerful opportunity to hear from highly successful credit experts and share decidedly effective best-practices with credit colleagues from a wide range of companies and industries.

Experience CMA’s unique, highly-rated event that balances a mixture of subject-matter expertise, peer-to-peer experience, and credit industry solution providers in a safe, facilitated workshop setting. CreditScape gives attendees an opportunity to identify problems and formulate solutions that can be taken back to the office. There is no substitute for the value of sharing real-world experiences with peers outside your company and outside your industry.

Following is the schedule of events, speakers and sessions for CreditScape:

Thursday, September 22

8:00 – 9:30 AM Bonus pre-conference Maximize Your Membership session

Instructor: CMA Staff

Learn from CMA staff how you can be sure that you’re maximizing your CMA membership investment by using all of the applicable services that can help your credit department.

10:00 – 10:30 AM: Intro – Cash-to-Cash: What is it and why does it matter?
Facilitator: Bob Shultz

Whether they realize it or not, credit and collection managers have an impact on the entire cash-to-cash cycle. 30-year credit veteran, consultant, and UCLA Extension instructor Bob Shultz will kick off the Fall Summit with an explanation of the cash to cash cycle, then lead attendees through workshop exercises designed to help benchmark their own processes.

10:30 AM-NOON – The Role of the Credit Department from the Viewpoint of a CFO
Facilitator: Bob Shultz
Panelists: CFOs, VP of Finance, Treasurer (TBD)

CFOs will discuss how they see the role of the Credit Manager in the cash-to-cash cycle, the greatest challenges they face, and their expectations of Credit Managers to address those challenges.

NOON-1:00 PM – Lunch

1:00-2:30 PM – What parts of the Cash-to-Cash process can you improve?
Facilitator: Bob Shultz
Panelists: Tim Cratty, CGCE, Director of Customer Financial Services, Jackson Family Wines; Tom Sacher, CCE, Director of Corporate Credit and Collections, Watsco; Kim Howard, West Coast Director of Credit, Cemex

Bob Shultz will lead a panel discussion with credit practitioners about what processes they have successfully improved, how, and report the winning results:
• Pre-checks for the Sales Department
• Automating new customer onboarding
• Metrics and reporting across department lines
• Quote: Pricing and Terms
• Sales Forecast
• Inventory to ship
• Accounts Payable
• Order Management
• Credit and AR management
• Invoice Admin
• Collection and Disputes
• Cash Admin
• Scoring model
• Portfolio analysis

2:45-4:15 PM – How do you get to “Yes”
Facilitator: Paul Beretz, CICE
Panelists: 2 Credit Professionals (TBD); Walter Trask, EVP, Comerica Bank

The Credit Manager’s job is to find a way to say “yes” to every credit sale. Bringing over 30 years of global experience in credit, finance, and management, Paul Beretz, CICE, will lead a panel of practitioners and other experts to discuss how they get to “yes” while protecting the company’s ability to get paid. Discussions will include:
• Payment processing/check guarantee
• UCCs
• Credit insurance
• Letters of Credit
• Spot factoring
• Alternative financing options
• Legal Enhancements/guarantees/escrow agreements

4:30-5:15 PM – Workshop Exercises

5:15-6:00 PM – Demo Marketplace

6:00-7:00 PM – Networking Reception

Friday, September 23

8:00-11:00 AM – Phone Power: 6 Steps to Collection Success
Facilitator: Bart Frankel

Bart Frankel was the highest-rated trainer at last year’s Fall Summit, and now he’s back in an expanded training program that will focus even more time on role-playing the toughest collection calls. As the Manager of Financial Services for the Pratt & Whitney Division of United Technologies for over 20 years, Bart was responsible for a $7 billion Order-to-Cash process. Participants will work with Bart and with each other to learn his highly successful 6-step process for getting paid. Bart’s advice is: improve processes early in the Order-to-Cash cycle to mitigate or even avoid collection efforts on the back end. This presentation is a must attend workshop for credit and collection teams!

11:00-12:30 PM – Using Third-Party Vendors to Create Efficiencies (Speed Networking event)

Meet in small groups with service providers whose offerings could allow your credit department to realize efficiencies in areas such as accounts receivable management, collections, payment processing, workflow management, cash application, and more. Service providers will lead the discussions in their areas of expertise. You choose the meetings and discussion topics around solutions that would help you and your company.

12:30-2:00 PM – Lunch and wrap-up session; share your takeaways!

NOTE: All speakers and contents of this program are subject to change. This schedule last updated August 1, 2016

To learn more about the conference and to register, visit CreditScapeConference.com.  We hope to see you in Sonoma!

CMA Member of the Month, July 2016: Lorie Mohs, American International Supply

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One of the greatest benefits of joining an association is the offering of professional educational opportunities to advance its members’ knowledge. The July CMA Member of the Month is someone who has taken advantage of that knowledge, and in turn received her professional designation.

In this past testing period, Lorie Mohs of American International Supply, was the only CMA member who passed the certification to receive her Credit Business Associate (CBA) designation. In addition, she regularly attends CMA and NACM events, including the recent NACM National Credit Congress in Las Vegas, along with other seminars and webinars offered throughout the year.

She is also a regular and active contributing member of the HVAC and Plumbing Suppliers industry credit group.

“The NACM certification program is a way for credit professionals to demonstrate their skill levels across many different industries,” said CMA President and CEO Mike Mitchell. “After speaking with several hiring managers from prominent companies, they acknowledged that having obtained a professional designation puts a credit professional at an advantage over others who have not done so. We applaud Lorie for her commitment and hope she continues to advance through the entire designation program.”

On behalf of the Credit Management community, congratulations Lorie for this honor, and thanks for being an active member of CMA.

Members of the Month are nominated by CMA members, Group members, volunteers and CMA staff to highlight those members (or member companies) whose engagement with CMA has helped improve the overall credit profession for others.

For more information on how you can participate in any of the areas mentioned within this article, or to nominate any members for this honor, contact Diana Escobar at descobar@emailcma.org or 818-972-5300.

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

What I Learned at Credit Congress, by Mike Mitchell, CAE

CMA President and CEO Mike Mitchell
CMA President and CEO Mike Mitchell

This morning, I delivered my quarterly webinar presentation, “Maximize Your CMA Membership,” which I present to our newest CMA members and credit professionals to help them learn about the myriad of resources a CMA membership has to offer. This morning, I started with an online poll, asking the participants, “What are the reasons you joined CMA?” As always, the two most popular reasons for joining are “networking” and “professional development.” And for good reason – there is a limit to what you can learn and information you can gather by electronic means alone. In keeping with this value we hold so dear at CMA, I attended Credit Congress last week, NACM’s premier educational and networking event. Based on our members’ feedback and my own participation in sessions, I learned that networking with your peers and professional development are alive and well and more vital than ever.

What continues to excite me about in-person conferences is what you learn when the audience engages with the presenters – people ask questions and share their own experiences, and the subject matter experts give practical advice to challenges and issues that are not part of the slide deck. I learned more about what our members are facing in their work environments (doing more with less, shrinking budgets, using more tools and technology) than about the credit topics themselves. Never underestimate the power of good catharsis – I can’t tell you how many people nodded their heads and grinned with relief when they heard someone talk about the same challenges that they face.

I also want to acknowledge the many credit vendors who supported the event with their own knowledge, expertise, and tools. I spent many hours talking with many vendors at the Expo, and I learned that many of these providers have played a vital role in helping the credit function and profession progress and evolve. If it weren’t for these companies (many of them small start-ups) investing their time, treasure and talent in the service of credit, our members would not have the tools and resources they need to compete in an ever-changing and risky business environment. We appreciate that many credit vendors have become as valuable an advocate for the credit profession as the credit associations!

By emphasizing the value of networking, peer-to-peer learning, and vendor support, I don’t want to minimize the contributions of the presenters and quality of their content at Credit Congress, which appeared consistently strong and on-topic. Thanks to NACM for continuing to provide a high quality, high value experience for our members.

A healthy turnout for Credit Congress and positive feedback from our members who attended has shown us that there continues to be good reason to offer these kinds of programs to our credit community. Now I am more excited than ever about CMA’s upcoming CreditScape Fall Summit (September 22-23 in Sonoma County) that will immerse all attendees in a learning environment designed to help them discover ways to improve their credit and collection processes.

So that’s what I learned at Credit Congress — what will you learn at our next event?

CMA Promotes Credit Management to the Next Generation at UCLA Career Fair

In an effort to explain credit management to the next generation, CMA’s partner Quote 2 Cash Solutions LLC, represented by Robert Shultz (Partner) took part in a panel discussion and career fair at the UCLA Extension campus on May 14. Titled “Career Success in Accounting and Finance,” Shultz, one of three Panelists, emphasized the importance of the credit function, fielded questions and later spoke privately to students interested in learning more about opportunities in this field.

“CMA believes it is imperative to attract young talent to the credit management profession. In talking to some of these students at the event, I am encouraged about the future generations of credit managers,” CMA President and CEO Mike Mitchell, who addressed questions at the CMA booth, said. “Our goal is to help ensure that there are plenty of great new credit management candidates for CMA members to hire.”

Shultz commented, “my most interesting take away was the one hand raised, out of the eighty or so attendees, when I asked how many understood the functions of a corporate credit department. This sort of outreach is an invaluable step to increasing interest and awareness of the credit profession.”

Here are a few photos from the event.

IMG_0842 IMG_0858 IMG_0864 IMG_0867

CMA President’s Blog: The Survey Results Are In, by Mike Mitchell

Here is a follow up from my column last month, when I mentioned a survey to determine which core skills members feel are the most important to credit managers. First, I want to thank all of the 133 members who took the time to respond to the survey. Second, I wanted to share the results and let you know how we will use the information to guide our development of skills training programs this year.

As a reminder, we asked members to rate 15 functional areas of the credit and collections cycle as “Very Important,” “Somewhat Important,” or “Not Important.” From the nearly 13% of CMA members who responded, “Communications Skills (verbal/written)” was rated most important (119 very important), followed by “Credit Basics” (116 very important), “Collection Techniques” (112 very important), “Customer Service Skills” (107 very important), and “Negotiation Skills” (105 very important). All other areas received ratings under 80 for very important (the complete list of results appears below).

survey skillset aggregate

To keep things interesting, the dozen in-depth interviews with CMA’s Board of Directors reflected some of the results above, also placing high value on Communications Skills, Collection Techniques, and Negotiation Skills. However, the group of CMA leaders rated Financial Skills (analysis and forecasting) much higher than the larger member sample, and appear to place a higher value on Leadership and Management Skills. Interestingly, Legal and Compliance issues received average ratings of importance, but we live in a nation of laws and operate in a business environment that is prone to legal risk and liability, so we’re going prescribe legal and compliance training anyway for the overall health of our members.

So what does this tell us about the training needs of our members’ credit operations? We believe that an online credit training program that initially addresses six core disciplines will benefit the vast majority of members who are charged with creating and conducting credit training programs without having the often significant time, resources, and expertise that are required to take on that responsibility. The CMA Credit Training Program will offer skills training in 1) written and verbal communications, 2) credit fundamentals (customer investigations, credit decisionmaking, setting credit lines), 3) collection techniques, 4) negotiations, 5) financial analysis, and 6) legal and compliance.

Look for more details later this summer, but in the meantime, I have a request. Part of the success of our recent CreditScape events was the contributions that experienced credit practitioners made to the workshop discussions. Sharing success stories and career-long best practices have added significant and unique value to our in person education sessions, and I would like to bring that same dynamic to our online credit training courses. If anyone reading this message feels that they have valuable experiences related to one of the core disciplines listed below, and you would be willing to work with me and other members to share those experiences and best practices with CMA members through this new program, please reach out to me so we can discuss a possible contribution.

I want to thank you again for your participation, as I look forward to helping evolve our education program into one that provides members with the topics they value most.

New AnscersX Enhancements Give Credit Managers a Better Understanding of Their Customers, by Teresa Campos

anscersxIt’s been more than a year since the launch of the anscersX multibureau trade credit report, which offers credit managers a one-click look at credit scores of their customers from the three major credit reporting bureaus. Since the report was launched, we’ve listened to our users and are proud to announce some valuable additions to the report aimed at helping you make quick and well-informed credit decisions.

The improved report includes more flexibility for you to choose the data you need and the price you will pay. It is now up to you to select data from one, two, or all three of the bureaus included in the anscersX Report (Dun and Bradstreet, Equifax and Experian).

We have added valuable information from Equifax including:

  • The Ultimate Parent
  • Headquarters Site information
  • Alternate Company Names & DBA’s
  • Owner/Guarantor
  • An easy to read Average Days Beyond Terms graph
  • Additional Report Highlights (# of accounts, # of delinquencies, charge offs and more

We have added valuable information from Experian including:

  • Years in File
  • The Date of Incorporation
  • SIC Code
  • An Industry Risk Comparison

anscersX pricing, which ranges from $32.35 to $69.95 depending on the combination of bureaus you choose, is a truly unique product that paints a true picture of your customers to help you better manage risk.

For those who would like to learn more about anscersX, I invite you to participate in an upcoming webinar exploring the anscersX report citing specific examples from the report. You can register here.

To download a sample report, visit www.anscers.com or contact me directly if you have any questions at 818-972-5361.

Josh Poli, Nannette Bringard Named 2016 CMA Students of the Year

Josh Poli, CBF, Intsel Steel
Josh Poli, CBF, Intsel Steel, accepts his award from Melissa Kobus, CCE, at the recent CreditScape Spring Summit

Congratulations to Josh Poli, CBF, of Intsel Steel West and Nannette Bringard, CBA, of Breakthru Beverage, who were named CMA Students of the Year at the recent CreditScape Summit and Annual Meeting.

Nannette Bringard of Breakthru Beverage, who received the CBA Designation of Excellence, has been in the credit industry for 25+ years, where she has served on a number of boards and committees for CMA. She encourages those around her to participate freely in credit industry meetings and to reach beyond their goals for success.

Josh Poli, CBF, from Intsel Steel West, who received the CBF Designation of Excellence, has been described as someone who goes above and beyond to support his company and his customers. His desire to learn more has been key to his success, and he frequently attends seminars, webinars and other educational events to expand his professional knowledge. His co-workers have been very appreciative to what he’s brought to the table.

Congratulations again to our winners Nannette Bringard and Josh Poli!

Christopher Ng Named CMA Educator of the Year

Christopher Ng, esq.

Christopher Ng, esq., a partner of Gibbs Giden Locher Turner Senet & Wittbrodt LLP was named CMA Educator of the Year at the recent CreditScape Spring Summit and Annual Meeting. For those who know Mr. Ng, he is the consummate volunteer, instrumental in helping CMA members learn more about their rights and remedies. He has not only spoken at CreditScape, but he has also done numerous seminars and training sessions at customer locations. What’s possibly most impressive about Christopher is his thorough follow up with all attendees after his sessions, reaching out to CMA members to make sure they understood the topic and answering any questions they might have.

Congratulations to Christopher, and our members (and us too!) are extremely grateful for your dedication and assistance.

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.

Mission, Values, and CreditScape, by Mike Mitchell

MMitchell2Like many of you, I made a number of New Year’s resolutions, and like many of you, I’ve already broken several (perhaps a 5-day-a-week commitment to go to the gym when it opens at 5 am was overly ambitious). At CMA, we have resolved to make mission and values a priority for this year and moving forward. Of course we have a mission and values, but we don’t spend enough time communicating them to our staff and to our members. Like many organizations, CMA revisits these mantras every few years at Board and staff retreats, but we don’t keep the spirit alive in the years between those manic word-smithing sessions. Many organizations and functional departments are guilty of this. Therefore, we at CMA resolve to make mission and values the reasons why we exist and why we do what we do.

Regardless of the actual words we will use to communicate our mission, it will stand for the idea that CMA is here to help credit professionals do their jobs more effectively and efficiently, which hopefully means making it easier to do more with less, and with greater speed and accuracy. There are many ways CMA can support credit professionals and credit operations – knowledge aggregated from the thousands of credit professionals who share their experiences through networking and publications, trade data from credit bureaus and credit group members, a variety of other third-party services, and professional education and training.

That last component of support, professional education and training, represents one of CMA’s deeply held values – a dedication to life-long learning. This is a value I wrote about before we launched our first CreditScape Summit last Fall. I am revisiting this value because we truly believe that continual education on basic and emerging credit topics, and regular training on skills related to day-to-day credit tasks, will keep credit operations sharp and well-oiled. Ultimately, any operating department within a company should focus on one thing, improving performance. How ever your company and department measures performance, you have to make changes to get better results (remember the definition of insanity?). We all know the reality of making change – it’s uncomfortable, it’s time consuming, it’s expensive – but if we are going to pay more than lip service to performance improvement, we have to take an honest look at our operations and determine where we can improve processes that will make a difference in performance.

We have designed the CreditScape Spring Summit and Annual Meeting, powered by UTA, to give our members an opportunity to get away from the daily distractions of the credit operation to focus on learning from other members who have successfully driven change within their credit operations that lead to improved performance. Many of the process improvements that will be discussed are related to technology solutions that have helped drive efficiency and accuracy by automating certain processes. During the opening address, attendees will hear from Michael Puccinelli, CCE, who has made a career out of process improvement by investing in his team (he requires that everyone be trained and NACM Certified) and investing in technology. At his last two companies, VeriSign and now Equinix, Michael has successfully leveraged a highly trained staff and technology to create what he refers to as systemic solutions to drive efficiencies and high performance throughout a global credit operation. It’s work like this that earned him the first annual NACM OD Glaus Credit Executive of Distinction Award and we know that he will have some valuable advice for CreditScape participants, regardless of company or credit department size or industry.

During the CMA Annual Meeting Luncheon on Day 2 of CreditScape, we will recognize and celebrate those credit professionals like Michael Puccinelli who have made significant contributions to their companies and to the credit profession through their dedication to process and performance improvement. To register, visit www.creditscapeconference.com. Hope to see you there.

Now that’s one resolution you can keep!

Lien Laws and Construction-Related Webinar/Seminar Series Coming in 2016

For construction-related businesses, filing preliminary notices, intent to liens and mechanics liens, and more, can be a necessary, but tedious and time-intensive process. CMA’s Construction Forms Filing Service offers assistance with helping companies ensure future mechanics liens rights. In order to showcase some of these services and inform our customers, we invite you to join CMA’s Amber Jackson, who has 10+ years of expertise in construction forms filing, as she reviews a myriad of tools available through CMA’s Construction Forms Filing Service, and the many tools that CMA offers for companies in the construction industry in a free webinar on January 26.

Additionally, there will be a number of additional webinars and seminars, hosted by licensed attorneys, which will cover state-specific lien law provisions and procedures that will help as well, beginning with California basic lien law on February 4. More states will be added to our education program soon.

To sign up for these sessions, click here.

“I Am CMA,” by Tracy Rosenbach, CCE

I am CMA, by Tracy Rosenbach of Silgan Containers
I am CMA, by Tracy Rosenbach of Silgan Containers

“Being a member of CMA has been a great experience for me. I look to the Association for education and networking opportunities. The webinars offered are such a wonderful example of efficiency. There is minimal outlay of resources for maximum benefit. I also attended a one-day session on international credit lead by Eddy Sumar which was fantastic. Attending the Western Region Credit Conference for years has been yet another wonderful education and networking opportunity. I firmly believe that knowledge is the key and it is what keeps us ahead in our profession.

In addition to CMA, our national credit organization (NACM) supports our quest for education in many ways including through the professional designation program. I am a big believer in education as one can tell so that is why I worked toward each professional designation (CBA, CBF & CCE) and finally achieved the CCE designation after several years. Earning the CCE designation was a valuable and useful experience that I reference in my career every day.

Networking is also very important for us as credit managers. CMA provides many opportunities for us to connect and reconnect with one another. Sharing our experiences at venues such as the CMA Annual Meeting or an Industry Credit Group meeting is truly invaluable as a credit professional. CMA provides other services for the credit manager as well. One of the most important things that CMA provides is a staff that cares and supports the credit professionals in our area.”

Tracy Rosenbach, CCE
Silgan Containers LLC
CMA member since 1995

 

“I Am CMA” is a Membership Committee driven initiative to allow members to share the most valuable aspects of their membership with CMA members. The monthly series explores CMA’s different programs and services and how they have helped members. With a full range of business credit services from Industry Credit Groups to credit reporting to construction forms filing services to collections to business insolvency, we hope the series will inspire you to utilize CMA more to help provide information to reduce your company’s overall risk.

For more information on the blogs, or to be featured, contact CMA Communications Manager Alan Dicker at 323-573-0840 or adicker@emailcma.org.

CMA Congratulates Recent NACM-Certified Professionals

The NACM professional certification program, sponsored by the National Association of Credit Management, has helped define and establish professional standards in this demanding and rapidly changing field, and fosters recognition of those individuals who possess special expertise. Among credit management professionals, the professional certification program is respected and appreciated. Not only is participation in the program a mark of distinction throughout the profession, but it offers expanded knowledge of the credit profession, better career opportunities, heightened professional recognition, and demonstration of standards of professional excellence.

Congratulations to the following Designees who passed their NACM-Certified Professional Certification exam in November.

• Diane Lukens, Village Nurseries (CBA)
• Trevor Kuramata, Reliance Steel and Aluminum Co. (CBA)
• Jonathan Chandler, Western Oilfields Supply Co. (CBA)
• Paul Wikoff, Wilbur-Ellis (CCE)

For those who are interested in obtaining their certifications, a free informational webinar explaining the benefits of the designation program is available on demand under the education tab at www.CreditManagementAssociation.org. CMA has scheduled its Winter courses for the Credit Business Associate (CBA) program, which can also be accessed via the education tab.

For more information on how to achieve your Designations, please contact Lisa Wong, Member Representative Associate at (951) 672-0581, or lwong@emailcma.org.

Again, congratulations to these members for their achievements!

Theme, Hotel Registration Announced for CreditScape Spring Summit and Annual Meeting

CreditScape Spring Summit
CreditScape Spring Summit

Attendees of the 2016 Spring CreditScape Summit and Annual Meeting, which takes place March 24-25, 2016 at the Island Hotel in Newport Beach, will learn about the efficient digital credit department, according to CMA president and CEO Mike Mitchell. “We listened to feedback from Fall CreditScape attendees and members, and the survey results overwhelmingly suggested the topic should resonate with most credit managers today.”

While the session and speaker lineup is currently being developed, attendees can reserve their hotel rooms now at www.creditscapeconference.com.

More information about the event will be announced in a few weeks.

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.

To Cash or Not to Cash? How to Handle “Payment-in-Full” Checks, by Christopher Eric Ng, Esq.

What should you do when you receive a check from a customer for an amount less than your total claim, but the check is marked with a “payment in full” or similar restrictive notation? Should you return the check to the debtor? Or can you simply cross out the “payment in full” language, deposit the check and pursue the unpaid balance? And what if you use a lockbox to handle the numerous checks you receive and those checks are deposited before you see them?

The answer to this question depends on what state law applies to your customer’s account. In the vast majority of states, if you are not willing to accept the amount of a “payment in full” check, the only safe action is to return the unnegotiated check. If you have accidentally negotiated a restricted check, many state laws give you a period of time (e.g., 90 days) to return the funds to the debtor to avoid an “accord and satisfaction” (the acceptance of a certain sum as payment for the entire disputed amount) of the claim. Finally, even if you have negotiated a “payment in full” check, you may be able to avoid waiving your right to pursue the balance if the debt was undisputed, or if the debtor did not act in good faith.

Creditors that want to expansively address the problem of inadvertently accepting “payments in full,” resulting in an unintended accord and satisfaction, can create and conspicuously designate a “debt dispute office” in credit agreements and invoices to customers. If such a debt dispute office procedure is appropriately implemented, an accord and satisfaction will not be established unless a person who is charged with the responsibility of dealing with such issues makes a knowing, affirmative decision to accept the partial payment. If such a procedure is not established, creditors should implement an alternative process to identify all partial payments made by a customer that could result in an inadvertent accord and satisfaction within 90 days from the date payment is received.

It goes without saying that it is imperative that you understand the applicable state law, consider including a favorable governing law provision in your credit and sales agreements and consult with an experienced commercial attorney regarding your particular situation. If this topic has piqued your interest and you want more information, please read Christopher Ng’s complete LinkedIn blog post at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/cash-cashhow-handle-payment-full-check-christopher-ng?

Join me as we cover this topic in much more detail at the upcoming CreditScape Fall Summit, September 17-18 at the Tropicana in Las Vegas. For more information about the conference, visit www.creditscapeconference.com. I hope to see you there.

Christopher Eric Ng, Esq. is a Partner of Gibbs Giden, Los Angeles, CA, and will be speaking at the upcoming CreditScape Fall Summit. He can be reached at cng@gibbsgiden.com.

12 Tips to Becoming a Better Business to Business Credit Risk Manager, by Michael C. Dennis

Michael C. Dennis

Even the most experienced credit professional can become a better risk manager. From the novice to the professional, learning new skills is crucial to ensuring that the risks of late payment or customer bankruptcy are mitigated. These simple tips are worth considering:

  1. Expect to Find Something Negative in each Customer Financial Statement You See
    Perform every review as though you expect to find something wrong/problematic. Doing so ensures a more thorough analysis, and may prevent overlooking a problem. If you don’t find one, check your work!
  2. Learn to Listen to What Your Collectors Tell You
    Let your collectors tell you what they think about their customers. Listening to them helps you be a better credit manager.
  3. Review Your Credit Policy Periodically
    When explaining difficult concepts internally, refer back to the written credit policy.
  4. Understand Various Risk Mitigation Strategies
    Credit pros need to have more than a basic understanding about a variety of different risk mitigation strategies, including ( but not limited to) the use of guarantees, letters of credit, the use of collateral or security and credit insurance.
  5. Make Every Phone Call a Learning Experience
    It is crucial to make every discussion with a delinquent debtor a learning experience. Learning what does and does not work well for you over time is an important learning process.
  6. Always Be Aware of What Your Collection Results are Telling You
    One of the primary measurements of your overall effectiveness is reflected in the Accounts Receivable aging report. To be a better manager, you need to know what your aging report is telling you.
  7. Ask for Help
    Never be ashamed to ask for help. Pride has probably cost more CM their jobs than any other factor. If you are not sure, seek help.
  8. Shorten Turnaround Time
    Take every opportunity to try to determine how to shorten turnaround time on decisions and actions taken by the credit team.
  9. Slow Down If You Feel Rushed
    Rushing will cause you to make mistakes. If you begin to feel rushed [example, by the salesperson] stop. Slow down, walk away, consider or reconsider your position.
  10. Precision is Critical
    To be a better CM, you want the actions taken by the Credit Department to be exactly as you expect it to be; not approximately what you expect to happen. Therefore, it is crucial to make sure that your standards are not declining over time.
  11. Continuously Refine
    Make changes in your department by making multiple minor tweaks rather than one big change, and by giving members of the department numerous small nudges as opposed to one big push in the right direction.
  12. Ask Questions
    It is impossible for even the best credit professional to know everything. Things happen from time to time that you don’t understand. If something makes you uneasy or looks unfamiliar, look it up or ask about it.

What would you add to this list? I welcome your feedback.

Michael C. Dennis is the author of the Encyclopedia of Credit (www.encyclopediaofcredit.com), a free, fast, internet resource for credit and collection professionals. He is a consultant, and the author of “Credit and Collection Forms and Procedures Manual” as well as a frequent instructor at CMA-sponsored educational events. He can be contacted at 949-584-9685.

Save the Date: CMA Announces CreditScape Fall Summit, by Mike Mitchell

CMA President Mike Mitchell
CMA President Mike Mitchell

CMA is proud to announce that it is collaborating with commercial collection partner AG Adjustments (AGA) to bring credit professionals an entirely new experience in collection and A/R management training. The CreditScape Fall Summit, which takes place September 17-18, 2015 at the newly renovated Tropicana Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, features two days of workshop training, expert practical and legal advice, and networking with other credit professionals.

Part of this unique learning approach will involve subject-matter experts and seasoned credit professionals sharing their experiences through interactive case studies, and each session will dedicate time for participants to share their own experiences with each other. Sustainable learning is about shared knowledge and experiences, and this is one way that CreditScape Conferences will keep participants ahead of the curve in an ever-changing credit landscape. This will also be much more interactive than the typical teacher-and-classroom experience our audience is used to.

From discussions I’ve had with members over the years, CMA members are always looking for better ways to manage and maximize recovery of their receivables. CMA’s partnership with AGA has played an important role in satisfying that need, but we saw an opportunity to take that relationship to a higher level. By leveraging AGA’s deep expertise in commercial collections and vast network of contacts and resources in the credit space, we can deliver leading-edge tools, techniques, and best-practices in accounts receivable management. I also want to incorporate the latest techniques in content delivery for adult learners to create a thought-provoking and practical meeting experience that produces valuable take-aways and sustained value for participants and their credit departments.

AGA’s president Mark Gerstel has told me that his company has envisioned producing a training event focused on commercial collections because there is such a need, and that working with CMA on this event gives AGA an opportunity to help credit managers do a lot more to help themselves and help their outsource partners to get better results.

Preliminary discussions with CMA members and industry partners have uncovered various capabilities and core competencies that affect collection effectiveness, including automation tools, the quality of customer investigations and evaluations, building relationships with customers and sales, and differentiated collection approaches for large and small debtors. These are some of the subjects that will drive content and discussion at CreditScape.

CMA’s education subcommittee is currently developing the programming for the event, which is designed to propose best practices and methods to collect receivables from your company’s customers. Details about the program will be announced this summer.

To learn more about the event, visit www.creditmanagementassociation.org/events or call 800-541-2622.

We look forward to seeing you there!

President’s Blog: Practice What We Preach, by Mike Mitchell, CAE

CMA President Mike Mitchell
CMA President Mike Mitchell

I have always been a big proponent of continuing education. My degree programs gave me the opportunity to serve in my current executive role at CMA, and earning my Certified Association Executive (CAE) designation helped me continue to grow into this complex management and leadership role. Having spent the last 15 years working closely with credit professionals in dozens of different industries, I have observed that most credit management positions require a depth of knowledge across a broad range of disciplines – financial, legal, customer service, and organizational leadership. The first three require study and practice to gain a proficiency for effective management. Organizational leadership requires proficiency for the first three, plus the confidence that comes from experience.

To be leader in your organization, you need to be good at what you do, and you have to bring new ideas and prospectives to your team and to the company. When I was studying for my CAE, I read up on many areas of association management that helped fill gaps in my knowledge, but I learned just as much from my colleagues who took the course with me. Their collective experience greatly enhanced my learning and insights, and gave me new ideas to bring back to CMA. How often can you say that about an educational course?

CMA’s online course format was designed to deliver just his kind of experience. We wanted to make education convenient for time-challenged participants without sacrificing the live classroom-style interaction that is so valuable for real learning and the exchange of ideas. Lectures are delivered by the course instructor in a live webinar format to allow for real-time interaction with them and other learners. Course assignments are assigned weekly in a virtual classroom and completed by learners at their own pace and posted to the classroom for sharing.

Continuing education is really about sharing knowledge and experience. There is a great scene in “Good Will Hunting,” a movie about a brilliant young man who is afraid to confront his own life’s extraordinary potential. Will’s therapist tells him that there’s nothing he can learn about his patient that he can’t read in a book, unless Will is willing to share his thoughts, ideas and experiences with him. Learning is about shared experience. Some of that experience is captured in a text book, a linear, fixed perspective which forms the basis on which to understand the multitude of shared experiences you will encounter from the subject matter expert and fellow learners.

I believe in the value that continuing education creates for professionals and the companies they work for. I also believe that we should practice what we preach. Almost 10 years after CMA launched its first online certification course, I have decided to experience CMA’s online courses myself. I am currently enrolled in Business Credit Principles with the goal of earning a CBA designation.

Stay tuned…

CMA President’s Blog: The Virtues of Continuing to Learn, by Mike Mitchell, CAE

CMA President Mike Mitchell
CMA President Mike Mitchell

With another Annual Meeting behind us, I was encouraged to see such a great turnout at the event last week. It was a pleasure seeing all who attended CMA’s Annual Meeting at Disneyland, and what made it particularly exciting for me was seeing that more and more of you are coming out of your offices to engage with other members and learn IN PERSON. It was nice to see credit managers reconnecting or getting to know each other for the first time, and learning from one another as they asked questions and shared experiences during the education sessions, an advantage of meeting in person rather than participating in online learning.

I noticed something else at the Annual Meeting that was very encouraging: experienced, senior credit managers brought their staff members with them to share in the education and networking experiences. I applaud this effort of good old-fashioned staff development, knowledge transfer, and succession planning, something that we don’t often think about in our daily routines, but is critical for the long-term sustainability of a credit department and the credit profession.

For those of you who were unable to join us at the Annual Meeting, look for more opportunities this year, as there are more upcoming in-person seminars, learning lunches and conferences. Additionally, NACM Oregon is hosting the NACM Western Region Credit Conference October 14 – 16 in Portland, OR. More details will follow after NACM’s Credit Congress in St. Louis next month.

My experience at the Annual Meeting re-affirmed for me why CMA is here for its members, customers, and other stakeholders. We believe, as you do, that credit management is critical to the success of any B2B company that sells on open terms, and we are here to help you grow revenue and reduce risk by providing, first and foremost, a vibrant community of credit practitioners with whom you can exchange experiences, best practices, and new ideas.

We hope you’re finding the educational and networking opportunities CMA is offering as useful to your business. Looking to learn more about a topic that we’re not currently offering? Let me know and we’ll try to help.

We hope to meet you in person at one of these upcoming events.

Kimberly Wagenman named CMA 2015 Student of the Year

Kimberly Wagenman Named CMA 2015 Student of the Year. Pictured (left to right): CMA Chair Melissa Kobus, Wagenman, Pam Craik
Kimberly Wagenman Named CMA 2015 Student of the Year. Pictured (left to right): CMA Chair Melissa Kobus, Wagenman, Pam Craik

Kimberly Wagenman was named as CMA’s 2015 Student of the Year at the 2015 Credit Management Association Annual Meeting on April 9. Wagenman is an enthusiastic supporter of continuing education. She has a BS in Business; she is currently working to obtain her CBA and will be attending Credit Congress this year for the first time. Congratulations to Kimberly Wagenman!

Save the Date: CMA Announces “A Credit Paradise,” the 2015 Annual Meeting

Credit professionals will experience “A Credit Paradise” on April 9, 2015 at Credit Management Association’s Annual Meeting. Taking place at Disneyland’s Paradise Pier Hotel in Anaheim, California, the “A Credit Paradise” event includes a full day of training, education, awards and networking opportunities with other credit professionals.

CMA is currently surveying its members about the resources that would be “A Credit Paradise.” The results of this survey will direct the event’s education and training topics. Details about the program, including the keynote speaker and education topics, will be announced in early 2015.

The Annual Meeting allows CMA members from all over California and Nevada the opportunity to learn about the latest trends affecting the credit profession. Last year, the event addressed the relationship between the sales and credit departments, and received some of the best feedback scores it’s ever had from the exit survey. In 2015, CMA is considering valuable training programs and topics requested by its member so they can attain ‘A Credit Paradise’ in their offices.

The Annual Meeting is the largest in a series of in-person educational opportunities offered by CMA. To learn more about the other sessions and topics, visit www.creditmanagementassociation.org/events or call 800-541-2622.

UCLA Extension Launches Credit Analysis and Management Course, by Mike Mitchell, CAE

CMA President Mike Mitchell
CMA President Mike Mitchell

I have long wondered why institutions of higher learning have not offered courses in business credit. When I was pursuing my graduate degree in business administration, I don’t recall that credit ever came up as part of the course curriculum. I began working for CMA shortly after I completed my degree, and this is where I learned that business credit is really what makes the U.S. economy as unique, competitive, and robust as it is.

NACM does a great job of supporting professional development and recognizing credit professionals through its Professional Certification Program, but that only touches practicing credit professionals. What about the many more college graduates and job seekers who don’t know that credit jobs exist? How do we reach out to those people who are pre-career or looking to change direction and let them know about credit as a career? What about small business owners who don’t have the staff to delegate credit decisions?

A few years ago, CMA was invited to participate in the development of a credit analysis and management certificate program at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Extension to expose an entirely new audience to credit as a career. The program is intended for the credit community in banking and finance, trade credit management and small business owners. Roger L. Torneden, Ph.D., CFP®, the Director of Business, Management and Legal Programs at UCLA Extension, actually worked as a credit manager at JC Penney. He saw the same opportunity as we did to reach people working outside of credit.

CMA is committed to bringing qualified credit management professionals to member companies, and programs like this one at UCLA Extension is a great way to do that, specifically when CMA- and NACM-member companies are looking to fill internships or entry-level positions that require specific skill sets in credit management.

Many students have already successfully completed the coursework, and CMA continues to help UCLA Extension promote this great program. With training from UCLA and professional networking and services from CMA, our collaboration could seed the next generation of credit managers and expand the NACM brand.

For more information, visit www.uclaextension.edu/credit.

What’s on Your Tool Belt?, by Michael C. Dennis

Michael C. DennisWhen I earned my MBA, I learned new skills and added them to my tool belt. Then, I got my first job as a collector and found I needed an entirely different set of tools. CMA offers a variety of educational options that will provide you with some new tools…new ways to think about how you might solve a problem or approach your work differently. When you attend a webinar/seminar/class, think about how you can apply that knowledge to address real-world problems. I am convinced that the ability to effectively apply skills and capabilities (tools) to address new challenges is critical to your success in any job.

Also, for those of you looking for employment, my experience both as a job candidate and as the hiring manager has been that the applicant who can successfully describe how their current talents can be applied to the new task, challenge or position automatically becomes worthy of further consideration.

What’s the biggest factor you consider when hiring a potential new employee, or the one you think was the biggest factor in you getting hired in your job? I welcome your feedback.

Michael is the author of the Encyclopedia of Credit (www.encyclopediaofcredit.com), a free, fast, internet resource for credit and collection professionals. He is a consultant, and the author of “Credit and Collection Forms and Procedures Manual” as well as a frequent instructor at CMA-sponsored educational events. He can be contacted at 949-584-9685.

Growing Your Knowledge Base, 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

More than 15 years ago, I decided to invest in my future (and my company’s as well) by taking the first steps into gaining my professional designation, signing up for NACM’s Business Credit Principles class. It was a great class.  I had a wonderful instructor who brought a lot of different experiences to us.  One of my fellow industry credit group members held the class in their conference room.  There were 8 students and we all passed.  This class started me on my path to my CCE.

This class also helped me build a network of contacts that I still keep in touch with today.  Every course that I have participated in has other credit professionals just like me who are willing to share.  They may not be in my industry, they may be new or very experienced but we all have one thing in common, we all have the common goal of building a better credit world.

During my service on the CMA Board, I have not been shy about expressing my strong support of the education arm of CMA and NACM.   I believe every credit professional benefits from learning.  Whether it is a seminar, webinar or a certification class, every member should further their education, especially considering how fast the credit world is changing.

Why have you not taken advantage of the NACM / CMA Education?  Did you know that it only takes 3 classes and passing one test to achieve your Credit Business Associate (CBA)?  It is easy, there is a button for that, right?  You need to dedicate time, it is a commitment but the rewards are endless.  As a credit manager with direct reports, I have encouraged my team to get their designations, and I prefer to hire credit managers who have theirs over ones who don’t.

I encourage you to take that first step on the road of growth, the road of certification, become a CBA or take that next seminar or webinar.  I am confident you will not be disappointed with the outcome.

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

 

Patricia Montanez CBA Named 2013-2014 CMA Student of the Year

Patricia Montanez, CBA
Patricia Montanez, CBA

Congratulations to Patricia Montanez, CBA, who has been named 2013-2014 CMA Student of the Year. CMA considers continuing education for credit managers as one of the best things you can do for both your career and for your company. Fortunately, Montanez was inspired by the support she received from her Direct Supervisor, who encouraged her to continue her education.  She began taking NACM/CMA courses and obtained her CBA in 2013. Not intending to quit there, she’s currently working to achieve her CBF.  She was the CMA Student of the month in January 2014 (see the full article on that here), and has encouraged and inspired many to continue their education.

Congratulations on this well-deserved honor!

2013-2014 Credit Management Association Designations of Excellence Awarded to Lee Clutter, Michele Zuniga-Cuevas and Tracy Rosenbach

2013-2014 Credit Management Association Designations of Excellence Awarded to Lee Clutter, Michele Zuniga-Cuevas and Tracy Rosenbach

CMA announced the recipients of its annual Designation of Excellence awards at the recent CMA Annual Meeting at the Disneyland Hotel on April 10, 2014.

Following are the award winners:

With more than 37 years of credit experience, Lee Clutter, CBA, is considered the “Chief Fun Officer” at SMART Modular Technologies. Clutter, the CBA Designation of Excellence recipient, is highly respected not only by the Senior Team, but also the Sales Team within his organization, having improved collection results year-over-year during one remarkable quarter by achieving a 99% collection rate!

Lee Clutter receives the award from Michael Puccinelli

Michele Zuniga-Cuevas, CBF, who was named as its 2013-2014 CBF Designation of Excellence recipient, has been diligently working on her NACM designations, and she obtained her CBA in 2012 and her CBF in 2013. Zuniga-Cuevas has more than 24 years in the Credit & Collections field.

Tracy Rosenbach CCE, 2013-2014 CCE Designation of Excellence recipient, is well-known to the CMA membership, currently serving on the CMA Board of Directors.  She has previously received recognition for her dedication to continuing education as the 2012-2013 recipient of the CBF Designation of Excellence. Never one to quit easily, she kept on studying and received her CCE designation in 2013.

Tracy Rosenbach receives the award from Michael Puccinelli

Congratulations to all of our worthy award recipients!

For information on how you can also earn your credit designation, contact Cheryl Hammond, Education Counselor for CMA, at 831-475-9482.