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Are You a Specialist or a Generalist?
By Michael C. Dennis, MBA, CBF

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In many companies, credit professionals are expected to be both generalists and specialists. Credit professionals must become generalists because it is in their company's best interest - and therefore in their best interest to do so. No matter what additional duties become the responsibility of the credit department, the obligation to safeguard the company's investment in accounts receivable remains paramount.

Some of the additional tasks that the credit manager or credit department may be asked to complete include:

  • Cash forecasting

  • Collection of employee loans

  • Collecting inter company accounts receivable

  • Issuing credit memos

  • Managing cash application

  • Managing customer support

  • Managing order entry

  • Preparing the monthly bank loan collateral report

  • Reviewing and approving expense reports

Credit managers who lose sight of their primary responsibility are unlikely to find that senior management will accept the excuse that the credit department staff was distracted by special assignments. On the other hand, new assignments should not be avoided or shunned by the credit manager. The advantages of accepting new assignments include:

  • They broaden your horizons, and the more versatile you become the less likely you will be downsized and the more likely you will receive higher compensation

  • They permit the credit manager to be seen in a different light, as a multi-talented team player and a problem solver

  • New assignments give the credit manager higher visibility to senior management, and keep people sharp

  • New assignments of any kind prevent boredom and burnout and make the job more interesting

  • It is easier to replace a credit specialist than it is a middle manager that oversees the credit function as well as other areas in the company

  • New skills can result in or lead to career changes

  • The more you can do, the more valuable you become

Many companies are enthusiastic about the team approach to problem solving. It has been proven that a collaborative approach in which employees from different disciplines are brought together to problem solves results in creative solutions, a greater sense of teamwork, and a better outcome than an individual could accomplish alone.

© 1999

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