From time to time a few of our clients will find themselves without a credit manager and have reached out to CMI for assistance in finding a replacement. This request is not an easy one since by virtue of its products, services, size, number of employees, and the management, every company is unique. In particular, being a “fit” to the corporate culture is imperative. For example, some organizations may be very high paced and a little loose with formalities, while others are much more slow, bureaucratic and careful about all the details of protocol.
Although we probably agree that a credit manager should have skills such as professionalism, a strong work ethic, and a positive attitude etc., these are skills needed for every position. However, what I think would be a unique contribution to the credit management position is if the individual has experience traversing a range of other areas and departments. A credit manager who has worked in operations, marketing, accounting, customer service, logistics, IT, administration, or human resources is one who brings to the table a depth of knowledge for the problems and issues that could impact credit management procedures, policies and goals.
I also feel that a credit manager should function as the bridge between helping the company to maximize its sales and safeguard its assets (cash, A/R, and inventory). Maximizing sales means that if a credit manager has knowledge of the sales process and periodically participates in accompanying the sales professional to client meetings and visits, they will be able to understand what’s involved in soliciting new accounts and maintaining current ones. What this one attribute will further provide is an understanding of the sales challenges and goals, which in turn will influence credit policy.
Flexibility is another quality that I look for in a candidate. Although the credit decision process can take advantage of many concrete figures obtained from reports, charts, and financial tools, making a credit decision can often come down to the relationship and other fluid factors. Being flexible means not always making decisions “by the book” and instead getting a feel for the potential business of a customer.
So, when I am asked to review the credentials of a candidate for credit manager, instead of only focusing on whether the candidate has experience to manage all of the company’s credit functions, I am also inclined to look within a candidate’s background for some diversity of professional and personal experience. In this way I feel the candidate’s view of the credit function will be more balanced, have greater creativity, and be more supportive of the company’s goals.
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This article has been edited by Steven Gan.