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Feb 01 2017
Creativity A Good Credit Manager Makes
Erik Wright, CBF, Spectrum Engineers Inc.

I have often wondered if I am less of a credit manager because I seldom work with traditional credit applications; they're just not frequently used in my industry. Contracts, on the other hand, are very common place and dealing with contract terms and conditions have become a credit management concern by default. While contracts do not replace the credit application, they do help leverage our position and mitigate cost and risk. But, I'm still left challenged on how to qualify a customer's credit worthiness if I don't collect the proper customer and project information.

No matter how astute or proficient I have become with contract language, it does not prevent all problems, nor does it ensure that we will be held harmless, or even dictate whether or not we will be paid. The bottom line is if we deal with the wrong people, we will have issues. If we take on the wrong project, we will also have problems. So, if I don't utilize a traditional credit application, how do I know if we are dealing with the right people? I have had to be creative! Perhaps in that aspect, I may be somewhat alike to my esteemed colleagues. Credit managers are very effective at making square pegs fit in round holes, and they are effective at finding solutions when there seems to be no positive outcomes. 

There are three primary ways that I have learned over the years that has served as a palette and canvas to creatively solving my unique dilemmas and to become a more effective credit manager.


  • The first is to step outside of my comfort zone. Once I get involved with an activity or process that challenges my limits, fresh ideas begin to flow. Being challenged, like writing an article, enables us to stretch our minds and helps us develop our creative talents.



  • The second is to recognize that 'my way' isn't necessarily the 'best way.' It is important to listen to others and identify what their needs are and to build on other ideas presented. I have found that ingenuity can bloom from the seeds planted by others.


  • The third element that has helped me tap into finding creative solutions to my unique circumstances is to keep a list of challenges or ideas that might help improve processes. Concepts that come from seminars or presentations should be written down and looked at often. I have been amazed that by referring back to my list, new thoughts and solutions to old problems come easier. 

Creativity is what distinguishes a good credit manager. We often have to work within constraints that make our jobs unnecessarily difficult. Whether it is the unsettling practice to operate without a formal credit application or if it is offering open credit to a friend of the boss. We each have unique challenges that keep us needing to be the best we can be.  Our creative juices need to be fluid and our tools need to be constantly tuned to be a true asset to our companies.