ICEL Chair: The Elastic Properties of the Credit Manager
by Paul Amante, CCE, CICP, Amer Sports Winter and Outdoor
Recently my four-year-old son has been talking about Spider-Man quite a bit. He repeatedly initiates conversations about Spider-Man, asks about why the “magic spider” bit the boy and asks how the boy can walk on the walls and make his feet stick to them. I have used the opportunity to discuss the fact that we all have special abilities that make us unique and different and allow us to achieve things that others may not have the skills or talent to achieve. That is part of what makes all of us special.
With recent events, we have all found ourselves in a situation where we need to be flexible and it caused me to think about the unique flexibility Credit Managers must employ to get things done. Now, when I was a kid I had a Stretch Armstrong toy (Wikipedia LINK for those who don’t know Stretch) which had the unique ability to stretch….a lot. One day I stretched him too far and tore part of his arm off. That was the end of Stretch. I guess you could say he had “elastic properties” not unlike a credit manager.
Merriam-Webster offers several definitions of the word elastic and a couple of notable definitions are below:
- 1a: of a solid: capable of recovering size and shape after deformation
- 2: capable of recovering quickly especially from depression or disappointment
- 3: capable of being easily stretched or expanded and resuming former shape
- 4a: capable of ready change or easy expansion or contraction: not rigid or constricted
- 4b: receptive to new ideas
The last few months things have been getting stretched out. Payment plans are getting stretched out. Payment terms are getting stretched out. I’m sure you have seen the same. Now, as things are beginning to re-open our company has begun to sunset some of the relief and flexibility we were offering our customers during the forced closure of their businesses. It calls to mind all the ways that we all must be elastic in our work.
There is no doubt that the business cycle has experienced “deformation” (1a) but it is capable of recovering its size and shape. Personally, there are times where we may get “bent out of shape” but we need to be able to recover our typical disposition. I believe that successful credit managers MUST be able to recover quickly from disappointment (2) as there will be challenges and mistakes but we cannot let them keep us down. The last few months have allowed me to see just how effective our credit policy can be when being stretched and expanded and I look forward to it returning to its former shape (3.) Our flexibility with payment plans during a crisis or hardship for our customers will allow us to accommodate the conditions on the ground and we should be “capable of ready change” if needed but also can use expansion or contraction of credit lines to mitigate risk depending on the situation (4a.)
The credit manager must be flexible, or elastic, to accommodate sales, manage risk, work through a challenge, resolve a past due account or accommodate a global pandemic. But someday, like Stretch Armstrong, things will return to their original form and shape.