How Your A/R Data Completes the Picture, by Larry Convoy

Larry Convoy, lead group facilitator

I recently sent a letter out to CMA’s group leaders and volunteers for the upcoming year talking about the biggest challenges we’ll face over that time period.

I told them that this year holds many of the same challenges that commercial credit grantors faced previously with the added pressures to industries affected by the California fires and the so-called “retail apocalypse.”

Our belief at CMA is that the major component of a successful Industry Credit group is “member participation,” both online and by attending the meetings/conference calls.

For the 3rd consecutive year, we have been able to revitalize several Industry Groups by getting more members to contribute their A/R to the CMA data bank. This industry-specific data has increased the information on the anscers report which resulted in providing a more complete picture of the vertical markets that they participated in.

Did you know that companies that contribute their A/R:

  • NEVER have to respond to RFI’s, as the system will automatically look for your trade information
  • NEVER have to fill out their Past Due Report or Meeting Review Report, as CMA will automatically extract your information
  • Receive an additional 5 FREE CMA credit reports, bringing your total to 10/year
  • Create an industry-specific data bank that can be accessed 24/7

We encourage all group members to contribute. It will save them time and can result in a reduction in any third-party credit reporting contract they have.

An increased data bank, timely alerts, comprehensive RFI’s, packed meetings, engaged members and interesting best practices discussions make for successful groups.  A successful group will have the most complete information and will save everyone $$$$.

Feel free to call upon me throughout the year to assist in any way I can. I want the groups to be as successful, and as complete, as possible.

Sincerely,
Larry Convoy
Supervisor-Industry Credit Groups
818-972-5323
lconvoy@emailcma.org

Experian Expands International Alerts

In this global economy, one of the biggest challenges for many businesses is being able to detect financial duress by monitoring companies’ whose headquarters are outside of the United States.

Early identification of negative activity helps your company prevent lost revenue and service interruptions, it also helps minimize reputational damage caused by doing business with a company in violation of U.S. laws. These early notifications can also help mitigate the effects of changing economic conditions while growing new business opportunities with lower risk.

Experian has announced that its commercial alerts now enable you to monitor more businesses in more countries with greater precision.

Experian now offers 25 alerts on 8 countries in Western Europe, with 8 more countries coming soon! These international alerts offer the ability to stay up to date on changes such as: change in ownership, business name and address, as well as changes in credit limit, balance sheet information, and company status and much more.

Proactive notifications empower you to act quickly and mitigate risk, collect on overdue amounts and retain your best customers.

Want to know more? Contact your CMA rep today at 818-972-5300 so we can start helping you reduce the risk in your growing business.

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/

 

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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!

Detecting Fraud: Basic Checks You Should Do Before Extending Business Credit

With the recent rise in bankruptcies, it is more important than ever before to have a handle on business to business (B2B) risk management. More and more fraudulent companies are emerging, as business lines are being blurred from start-up manufacturers operating from a garage, e-commerce “e-tailers” businesses that may or may not be legitimate. Because of this, it’s tough for credit managers and risk management professionals to tell the good companies from the “bad” ones.

So what’s a credit professional to do? Here are several activities you can do before you decide to extend B2B credit.

  • Validate their address. With Google maps, you can tell more about the location of a business than ever before. Does their address come up on Google maps? Does the satellite view (photo) show that they’re a residence or a business? Are they located in an area where it would be impossible to do business (i.e., a forest)? Answering these location questions ahead of time could alert you to red flags of fraud before you take them on as a client.
  • Make them fill out a credit application and check and confirm their credit references. When you call their list of references, are they companies who’ve done businesses with them recently? Are the phone numbers of their references valid? Are the numbers for all companies mobile phone numbers, leading to the conclusion that these are individual numbers not businesses? Are the references related to the potential client? If any of this data they provide sounds fishy, it could be another red flag.
  • Visit the customer’s website. There are many red flags that can be gained by visiting the site, including poor design, phone numbers not matching those given in the references, broken image links and other items that can cause you to question the validity of the business.
  • Utilize your Industry Credit Groups. Utilize the knowledge of your fellow industry credit managers by bringing up any suspicious companies during your Industry Credit Group meetings. As we see repeatedly in Credit Group meetings, fraudulent companies tend to go to multiple companies in a particular industry until they get what they need. Additionally, anscers RFIs and alerts can help you on an as-needed basis, and CMA members get unlimited access to these alerts and RFIs.
  • Use credit reports and decisioning data to help. CMA provides access to reports from the major reporting agencies and also offers the NACM National Trade Credit Report, which aggregates information submitted to all of the NACM affiliates that is not typically provided to the major credit reporting bureaus. And better yet, CMA members who contribute their A/R information receive 25 free NACM reports per year.
  • If you’re in the construction industry, consider using THE Construction Credit Report, providing access to public record data; title search (with live links to actual documents) on mechanics lien filing/release; notice of completion; notice of Lis Pendens (action/discharge); tax lien or judgment; active trade lines; credit analysis and score; collection agency and factoring company activities; and links to state Registrars Of Contractors. For more information on this unique report, click here.

If you consider doing these tasks before deciding to extend credit, you’ll help eliminate obvious fraud from occurring, protecting your company’s most valuable resource, its accounts receivable.

What processes does your company have in place to help protect from fraud? We’d love to get your input!

CMA Partners to Show Off anscersX Multibureau Trade Credit Report at Credit Congress

If you’re planning to attend the 2016 NACM Credit Congress in Las Vegas, June 12-15, one common product you’ll see at top vendor booths is CMA’s anscersX multibureau trade credit report, a single report that contains all the key elements about your customers’ paying habits needed to make most credit decisions.

Some of the credit industry’s top software companies soon will offer or have launched the anscersX report on their platforms , including TermSync, CreditPoint Software, Bectran, Credit & Management Systems Inc. (CMS), and eMagia/TheCreditApplication.com. Many will be demonstrating how anscersX can be accessed directly through their software at Credit Congress.

These leading software vendors will help their clients join the hundreds of companies who have already benefited from having instant access to this single report that contains all the key elements about your customers’ paying habits needed to make most credit decisions.

The anscersX multi-bureau trade credit report combines key factors from the three largest trade credit reporting agencies (Dun & Bradstreet, Experian and Equifax), giving credit managers the most complete payment story available. “The anscersX report offers some real advantages to anyone making a credit evaluation,” said CMA president Mike Mitchell. “Single-source Business Credit Reports are made up of accounts receivable data that has been contributed by companies, public record data and payment scores generated from the combination of this data. Since most companies that contribute accounts receivable data only send it to one provider (D&B, Experian or Equifax), using one report may provide only a piece of the payment habit story. I am thrilled that leading-edge software providers feel as strongly as we do that there is a real need for bringing this unique resource to the credit community, and I’m grateful that they are helping us introduce their clients to the power that the three largest credit bureaus can bring to credit decision-makers with limited time and budgets.”

The report, which is also available at www.anscers.com, ranges in price from $32.35 to $69.95, depending on the number of reporting agencies the user requests. Users control which reporting agencies are accessed for the report.

To learn more about the program, visit www.anscers.com or call 800-541-2622.

About Credit Management Association
Credit Management Association (CMA), which was founded in 1883, is a Glendale, Calif.-headquartered trade association with approximately 1,300 member companies representing over 250 different business categories selling regionally, nationally and internationally. CMA focuses on providing products and services that allow companies to make informed business decisions based on trade credit. CMA is one of the largest affiliates of the National Association of Credit Management (NACM), whose 45 affiliates serve all of North America. For more information, call 800-541-2622, or visit www.creditmanagementassociation.org.

Selling outside the U.S.? What risks should you look for?, by Mike Lindenmuth

Consider this scenario: your boss tells you, the credit manager, that he/she’s just sold a palletload of your company’s widgets to a customer in a foreign country, and that you need to just “make it work and collect the money.” Sound familiar? We hear examples like that one over and over from our clients. So what are the risks that you should look out for? There are three major country factors that we look for that determine foreign risk: economic, political and terrorism.

Economic Risk

In a global economy, some countries are connected in a virtual domino effect, some obviously and others not. For example, imagine that your boss asks you to do business with an Australian company. At the same time, you are aware of the political unrest in Greece. If Greece defaults, Germany would be impacted as they are a major economic trading partner and major debt holder. This could impact the company you’re doing business with, as Germany is a major trading partner with Australia. Therefore, if you’re doing business in Australia, you could be impacted by the situation in Greece, even though Greece isn’t a major trading partner with Australia.

Regional country risk could also be a factor. For instance, Venezuela literally has no cash available to pay its creditors, and this would impact your company’s ability to get paid.

Finally, you still need to assess the company risk, based on a number of factors including capacity and character. Some of this information can be obtained through reports and assessments from companies like Skyminder.

Political Risk

Imagine this scenario: You have an agreement in place with a foreign customer, and then a revolution breaks out in their country. Despite their best efforts and intentions, the deal is off, and they may not be able to ship out or pay for those products. Similarly, in other countries, governments have the ability to take over private companies, and there’s very little the owner can do to stop it.

Another political factor is the type and structure of the government. For instance, look at the current stock market in China. Dictatorship controls the market and valuation of yen. Which could be strong (or weaK) compared to U.S. dollars at the time of the transaction. Could your company be left holding the proverbial “bag?”

Finally, the U.S. government could be a factor. In the case of Russia invading Ukraine, will our Congress impose sanctions? If so, is your company prepared?

Terrorism

In a post 9/11 world, terrorism is a huge (and self-explanatory) factor.

How can you make an informed decision?

With all of the uncertainty I’ve been talking about in this blog post, how can you make an informed decision? There are a couple of resources that I can recommend.

  • FCIB is an excellent source for country reports, political risk and credit and collections surveys.
  • For company risk, no one should use a single source for business information reports. Effective risk management requires access to multiple sources. The preferred solution is to look to providers who can aggregate information from multiple sources. My company, SkyMinder, is able to provide freshly investigated reports for any company in any country in the world.

Mike Lindenmuth is Vice President of SkyMinder, a provider of global company and domestic credit reports. He can be reached at 813-636-0981 ext. 237, m.lindenmuth@c3bizinfo.com, or at www.c3bizinfo.com.

Using Predictive Analysis to Create Collection Management Strategies, by Christopher Rios

Traditionally, debt collection involved little more than picking up the phone and convincing the debtor why they need to pay for the products/services sooner rather than later. Today, credit and collection professionals are being asked to adopt more sophisticated techniques. One of the newer techniques utilizes predictive analytics to create collection management strategies. Predictive analytics permits creditors to identify at-risk A/R and focuses collection efforts on those customers with the greatest propensity for paying slow. This combination of historical AR data and predictive attributes will allow creditor companies to review and optimize their resource allocation, provide improved customer service, and to accelerate cash inflows. By doing so, creditor companies potentially reduce unnecessary costs across the credit to cash cycle and accelerate payments from high risk customers.

Inevitably, even the best collection strategies fall short at times. An organization’s fail-safe shouldn’t be to write off uncollectible receivables against its bad debt provision and move on. What is sometimes overlooked is the need for and the benefit of having a robust third party process for dealing with debtors that cannot or will not pay. Third party strategies should include bankruptcy administration, pre-litigation, litigation and mediation strategies.

Establishing a solid process that provides prescriptive treatment for dealing with non-paying, financially distressed customers will help creditor companies maximize the benefits of the third party services being provided. Ensuring you’re maximizing your return on investment and increasing the chances of recovering unpaid accounts receivable are two benefits of partnering with the right service provider.

This topic will be covered at the upcoming CreditScape Fall Summit, September 17-18 at the Tropicana in Las Vegas as I lead the discussion on creating a robust third-party collections process. For more information about the conference, visit www.creditscapeconference.com. I hope to see you there.

Christopher Rios is the Group Leader – Finance Operations for Dun & Bradstreet. He will be speaking at the CreditScape Fall Summit, September 17-18, at the Tropicana in Las Vegas.