A three-person Executive Exchange panel that served as the first internationally focused offering of the 2012 Credit Congress may have drawn from diverse industries, but the theme of “do your homework… and a lot of it” emerged as a key take-away.
Larry O’Brien, CCE, ICCE; Gary Gaudette, CCE, ICCE; and Karen Hart, Esq. each agreed that managing the details on the front-end streamlines virtually everything thereafter. Hart particularly stressed the necessity to sign contracts early “before it gets hazy down the road.” She later added that “good customers can turn bad,” and it can happen in a hurry. So, in short, credit professionals should always know where to look for the customer's assets. O’ Brien and Guadette gave significant focus to the importance of staying on top of customers when requesting current financials.
“Push the guy on the other side because you probably aren’t the only one looking for it,” O'Brien said. “Ask for interim statements. Be persistent with them. Let them know that you aren’t going to let it go.” said O’Brien, who was named NACM Mentor of the Year during the June 11 Credit Congress General Session. Gaudette added the suggestion to “walk the line of being pushy with existing customers.”
But, it's not all about the financials and contracts, obviously. The panelists stressed the need to have conversations with customers and to go on international customer visits when possible. And, of course, do homework ahead of time, because knowing a strong amount of the details ahead of times can prove valuable in many ways.
“[Review] financials and bank info first, then set up a battery of questions to educate yourself on the missing info,” said O'Brien. “I usually have an idea of the answer beforehand but I want to see how they answer it to gauge trustworthiness,” said O’ Brien.
-Darren Rudham, FCIB/NACM staff