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Apr 01 2015
Credit Professionalism
Erik Wright, CBF, Spectrum Engineers, Inc.

Imagine if a large group of NACM members from various industries got together to discuss and debate the most important issues facing them in their profession - would the most critical issues brought to light be those that pertain to actual credit processes, procedures, or other aspects of fulfilling their credit duties; or would they center more on questions of ethics, image, and perceived value? Perhaps the subjects would vary slightly but I would wager that the concerns would not be as much focused on the former (creating credit policies or interpreting financial statements and the like); rather they would be more inclined to be concentrated on topics pertaining to the latter - Professionalism.  

To justify this point, numerous articles which have recently been written and published in our CreditWise Newsletter have raised similar concerns with matters ranging from the partnership between credit and sales, being dependable and time management, ethical decision making, being prepared, your perceived value, and adapting to change and embracing continued learning, and many others; all taking on the notion that professionalism is critical to our success as credit managers. This probably should come as no surprise as it truly is the foundation upon which all of our other core values at NACM are built upon. 

Professionalism is the glue that holds things together in a tough economic environment, builds rapport with clients and management, and it is the subtle part of almost every concern or discussion that NACM advocates. Whether we are discussing credit processes and procedures or other business practices, the ethics, image, and perceived values you bring to your decision-making are always the basis of the publications, meetings, seminars, and activities NACM sponsors. Beyond providing members with the tools and continuing education to be successful, NACM effectively creates Credit Professionals.

It takes more than an education in Credit Management or Finance to be a true Credit Professional. While "credit" with its Latin derivation, credere, that when literally translated means to believe or trust, it infers its connotation to have a certain level of judgment that is subjective, critical, and perhaps equitable or fair. For a credit manager, it's his/her duty to simply manage effectively these decisions to believe a customer has the ability and wiliness to pay. To be a "professional" implies a higher level of performance, commitment and knowledge than most people possess. Therefore a true credit professional exhibits a superior level of proficiency that merits the trust and confidence of those that employ him/her and those he/she does business with.

Before the advent of universities, an aspiring professional learned from close daily contact with an established professional. The established professional oversaw almost every aspect of his student's life, conduct and goals, cultivating the professional qualities of each pupil by daily example and instruction.

This sort of relationship is virtually non-existent in our modern world. Today, the individual courses required for a discipline are taught by people who are experts in those courses; however, the relationship between professor and student are more distant and only provide the practical know-how or theory. That may be the case if it wasn't for NACM. Like times of old, NACM allows for aspiring professionals to be in close contact with other established professionals that all have the desire to cultivate professional qualities in each other and that help inspire and motivate all to set goals to be better.

The status of credit professional from credit manager has to evolve. Remaining an active, contributing member of NACM is a critical part to credit professionals and to those who are working towards professional accreditation. Continuing education is essential to maintain professional designation status for those who have achieved Certified Credit Executive (CCE) status. However most importantly, we should be always be critical of ourselves and carefully conduct self-evaluations of our status as a credit professional on a regular basis.