Pens, paper and floppies! – by Philip King FCICM
16 May 2019
I first started working in credit in January 1979 so I’ve now been a credit professional for over 40 years. That’s a scary thought but also a reminder of what a great and varied career I’ve had throughout those years, and what a brilliant profession credit management is. What makes it so special?
When I was interviewed in our first collaboration with ITN Productions ‘Credit Champions’, I emphasised the importance of communication skills because all business is with people, and that includes credit management. But I was asked what other skills are important and I said that credit professionals are a mix of numerous professions: detective, lawyer, risk assessor, sales person, negotiator, accountant, problem solver, customer liaison manager and so many more. During my career I’ve been all those things at various times. Maybe it’s the variety that makes it so special.
I can still vividly recall the days of my early career when the tools at my disposal comprised paper, pen, and a shared telephone. How times have changed and how technology has moved us forward. When I spoke at a conference recently, there were some in the audiences who had never seen a 1.44mb floppy disc, let alone used one. The point that my current phone is equivalent to 188,574 of those discs was somewhat wasted on some attendees! Credit management throughout my career has always been at the forefront, and taken advantage of, technological change and opportunity. Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence are now taking those advances to a whole new level and it’s great to be in a profession that develops alongside technology. Maybe it’s the technology that makes it so special.
I can also remember the pride I felt when I achieved the ICM graduate qualification in 1982, and when I first became a credit control team leader, and then moved into management. Having the opportunity to lead people in achieving great results that add value to the business and ensure it is sustainable and flourishes is a real privilege. Seeing those people’s careers develop as they move on to great careers themselves is hugely rewarding. The CICM is currently focussing on the journey of stepping up to leadership in credit. From a dedicated training programme to its Fellows of the Future scheme, to its simplification of the process for upgrading through membership grades and its Mentor Hub, these are all preparing and equipping leaders of the future. Career advancement is hugely fulfilling and credit management offers so many different routes and directions whether the route is generalist or specific. Maybe it’s the opportunity that makes it so special.
Just as there are many facets to credit management, there are also many personality traits and characteristics that determine where someone can make the most impact in their organisation and in the profession. Credit management is fundamentally about communication and relationships; without them it would not be the profession it has become, continues to be, and will always be. The way we interact with others determines the outcomes we get and, of course, it’s just not about what we achieve but also about how we achieve it. Whether we are 4 months or 40 years into our careers, we all have so much to learn. The CICM is a community of credit professionals who share, support and encourage. Maybe it’s the people that make it so special.
See here for more information on CICM membership.