An incredible journey – by Philip King FCICM
20 February 2020
After 14 years leading the CICM, my tenure is coming to an end, and it’s a bitter-sweet moment. I’ve worked in credit management since 1978, and my involvement with the CICM started way back in 1980 when I was encouraged to study as a way to progress my career.
Having graduated in 1982, I have been involved in CICM activities in more ways over the years than I can now recall. Throughout that period I have always been driven by a passion for credit management, and it has been a huge privilege to lead this great Institute, supported by the magnificent team at CICM HQ. We’ve made some real achievements of which I’m immensely proud, although it would be more accurate to say they’ve made some real achievements.
I’ve been thinking latterly about what has made me most proud, and what are the most significant changes we’ve seen. I could reel off a list of things but I know I’d miss something that someone somewhere will believe is an unforgivable omission. I will therefore focus on the one thing that was probably the most challenging and also the most satisfying. When I first talked to the Privy Council in 2006 about the likelihood of the Institute being granted a Royal Charter, it was apparent that any such prospect was a long way off and some serious groundwork was needed.
That was the start of a journey that culminated in the granting of our petition on 5 November 2014, and enabled us to become the Chartered Institute of Credit Management. For me, that simple change of title said three things: firstly, we had come of age as a serious professional body; secondly, credit management had gained recognition as a serious profession; thirdly, we had reached a point where credit professionals could, and should, hold their heads up high alongside their counterparts in other professions.
Credit management is a vital function in any business and credit professionals make a crucial difference to their businesses. That difference can ensure the business flourishes, and absence of the skills that credit managers bring can lead to failure and collapse. Never let it be said that credit management is an insignificant back-office function and, if or when that is said, let the profession be articulate and strident in refuting any such suggestion.
I am moving from the privilege of leading a dynamic and forward-looking organisation to the honour of working as the interim Small Business Commissioner. This role is tasked with providing general advice and information to small businesses struggling to get paid promptly by larger businesses, and considering complaints from small businesses suffering from poor payment practice by their larger business customers. It’s no coincidence that, in the new role, I’ll be drawing heavily on the lessons I’ve learned in over 40 years of working in credit management, the principles of which lie at the root of successful businesses.
Finally, I want to offer heartfelt thanks to all who have supported, challenged, and guided me over the past 14 years. It’s been a fantastic journey – thank you.