Inspiring credit managers

Conferences

An event to put Hungary on the Credit Management map of Europe, as well as an important platform for the expert exchange about the current status and ongoing developments in the field of European credit management. The Pan European FECMA Credit Management Congress held in Budapest in mid-May was successful from both perspectives.

The Federation of European Credit Management Associations (FECMA) organized its first Pan-European Credit Management Conference in Budapest. The event was co-hosted by the Hungarian Credit Management Association, which is considered recognition that acknowledges the professional work done by Hungarian industry experts in the recent years.

The conference was titled ‘European Best Practices – Inspiration for Credit Managers’, and it focused on the latest trends and current developments of the credit management scene of the continent. The event was attended by some 250 industry professionals from all over Europe, eager to discuss their recent experiences as well as their theoretical knowledge on the subject. The high profile of the event was well in line with its venue, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in the historic downtown of Budapest.

“The Pan-European Credit Management Conference of FECMA is an event of foremost importance, as the economies of the countries represented here unequivocally go through an extremely tough period, which results in more focus on credit management, and the value it can contribute to other business areas, than ever before,” FECMA chairman Glen Bullivant was quoted as saying after the convention.

“No doubt, the crisis of recent years has substantially raised the profile of credit management,” said Péter Szentirmay, the president of Hungarian Credit Management Association. “Countries across the old continent are faced with several difficulties; we all have to find the right answers to new challenges. Credit Managers are in the frontline, taking much more responsibility than ever. Credit Managers have direct links to customers, know all the industry players, take part in elaborating business strategies and give support to sales. The Pan European Congress is the event for discussing current issues and developments that have impact on our daily work,” he added.

Focusing on best practice

The first day of the conference focused on professional best practice. Claes Jacobsson of Scania Financial Services demonstrated the impacts the financial crisis had on its credit management operations, and the solutions found to resolve the situation. Willibrord Van Leeuwen, a credit management expert at Wolters Kluwer, Netherlands, highlighted the need to harmonize the activities of sales and risk management, when it comes to client management. The first Hungarian presenter, Dr. Erzsébet Antal of logistics giant Waberer’s International, explained the company’s international credit management procedures. The panel was concluded by the presentation of György Barcza of the Századvég Gazdaságkutató think-tank, focusing on the macro-economic trends of Europe.

The vivid discussion of the day’s roundtable concerning the tendencies and perspectives of European credit management featured credit managers from Donna Karan (I), Sagem Defense Securite (FR) and Sapa Group (HU).

The professional program of the second day began with two presentations focusing on theories and principles: recent research was summed up by Prof. Ludo Theunissen of Ghent University, Belgium, followed by SHS Viveon’s demonstration of the building of its credit management processes on a block-by-block basis. Shortly thereafter practical presentations completed the theories, showcasing best practices: Maarit Siijärvi from The Biofore Company, Finland showed real-life examples from its international credit policies and KPI; Andreas Wenzel, the global credit manager of Agfa Graphics explained the organization’s IT background supporting its credit management procedures; ABB Schweiz’s Alberto Bottoni highlighted the building of an international organization from scratch; and finally Brian Morgan of Veolia Environmental Services demonstrated its new quality standards, as key criteria to the development of its credit management processes.

The conference program also saw the introduction of leading international service providers like AON, Atradius, Bisnode, Bureau van Dyk, Euler Hermes, Guardean, Opten, Prof. Schumann GmbH and Sungard, whose credit management services range from providing business information, to credit insurance, to the implementation of IT systems supporting credit management processes.

Lifetime Achievement Award

The informal program consisted of a gala dinner, where the FECMA Lifetime Achievement Award was presented for the first time, the association honoring the decade-long work of Oswald Royaards, ex-president of FECMA, and founder of the Dutch Credit Management Association.

FECMA is a non-profit organization that was founded by Sir Roger Cork in 1986, and that now represents more than 20,000 credit management organizations and professionals from 15 European countries. It aims to support and encourage the sharing of information and best practices among its member organizations. The Hungarian Credit Management Association, as one of the youngest national credit management organizations, was founded in 2010, intended to improve the Hungarian state of company risk-awareness, the spreading of basic risk-management principles among companies, and with the ultimate objective of increasing the quality of supplier crediting in Hungary.

FECMA provides member organizations with a platform of communication as well as helping the integration of the credit management functionality into certain corporate hierarchies. As a FECMA member, the Hungarian Credit Management Association also aims to make international know-how and industry novelties accessible to Hungarian credit management professionals.

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