Why You Should Belong to an Industry Credit Group

In this era of reduced budgets and the urging of management to “do more with less”, one of the unfortunate casualties has been the attendance and participation of companies in industry credit associations. This is a shortsighted approach which will severely and negatively impact the credit professional and their companies where it hurts them the most- by denying them access to both a critical information stream and a low cost resource to improve their company’s practices and efficiencies. While there are a myriad of benefits to participation in an industry group, the following are just a few of the obvious benefits.

Account Specific Payment Information on Mutual Customers

The core of each association is the clearance and dissemination of mutual customers’ payment habits over a period of time. While most groups meet anywhere from two to six times a year, most offer their members monthly clearances on a select number of names. This is a cost effective method to track the payment habits of both key accounts and high risk exposures on a monthly basis.

When you meet as a group, more in depth discussion on accounts occurs in a managed, roundtable setting. Relationships with peers that are developed here can facilitate conversations between members down the road.

Continuing Education/ Access to Speakers

Most industry groups devote a set amount of time in each meeting to either bring in guest speakers to address a common topic of interest to all members, or representatives of a company that is a key customer to the members. The educational sessions and speakers- many of which allow you to earn continuing education credit- expose the credit professional to a variety of topics and viewpoints. Having a guest representative from a common customer provides a good forum for them to present a financial overview and direction of their company and to also field questions and hear the concerns of the credit community in a professional setting.

Relationships

Did we mention relationships? This is possibly the biggest take away of involvement in an industry credit group. The account discussions are valuable, the speakers are wonderful, but I always got the most benefit by getting to know my peers at the cocktail hours or group dinners that the associations provided. You never have to re-invent the wheel, and if you are in a room with others in your profession, I guarantee you that someone will have a solution or an approach to a problem or situation that you may have. Over the years, I was able to bring back and implement many strategies that I got from these informal gatherings.

These are just some of the advantages to joining a credit group, and the benefit to both your company and your professional development is immeasurable. If you are a true credit professional, you should have no problem articulating the advantages and justifying the cost. You will never regret it, and I guarantee you that every meeting will pay for itself with the information and knowledge you receive.

Dave Lerro is a Credit Management Advisor with Business Credit Reports, Inc. Prior to this, he was a National Credit Manager with Kaman Music Corp and Waring Products with over twenty years of experience in managing diverse accounts receivable portfolios selling into the retail trades.

Dave is a strong believer in industry trade associations having been a past president of the Small Electric Appliance Association and the National Music Manufacturers Credit Group and a co-founder and Vice-President of the Credit Process Improvement Association.