Credit Controller

The Job and What's Involved

As a credit controller or debt collection agent, you would be responsible for recovering unpaid money from businesses or individuals.

You could work for a third party collection agency or debt purchasing company employed to collect debts from businesses (known as commercial collection) or individuals (consumer collection). Alternatively, you could be a credit controller in a company's finance or credit department, chasing late payments from suppliers and customers.

Your work might include:

  • Contacting individuals or business customers when payment is overdue.
  • Asking them to settle their account and explaining the terms of their credit.
  • Using specialist computer databases to check credit records.
  • Re-negotiating repayment plans if people are in financial difficulties.
  • Setting up and maintaining customer files.
  • Processing payments.
  • Visiting debtors to collect payments (known as 'field collection').
  • Tracing missing debtors.
  • Starting legal proceedings if debts are not paid within an agreed time.
  • Arranging for goods to be repossessed to cover the outstanding debt.
  • Liaising with solicitors, bailiffs and debt counsellors where necessary.

You might work standard office hours Monday to Friday, or shifts including evenings and weekends. Part-time work is often available.

In many jobs you would be based in an office or a call centre, although as a field collector you would usually work from home and travel to visit clients at their home or business.

Salaries can be between £13,000 and £22,000 a year.
Team leaders and managers can earn up to around £30,000 a year.

Bonuses and commission may be available, and some employers may offer a car and fuel allowance.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

You could work as a credit controller for all kinds of business, or you could work as a debt collector for a collection agency.

Alternatively, you could be self-employed as a freelance field collection agent.

Education and Training

Employers will expect you to have a good standard of general education and confidence with maths. You will find it useful to have computer skills and experience of office and customer service work.

You would also need a driving licence for field collection work.

Some employers may prefer you to have some GCSE's (A-C) including maths, and you may have an advantage with qualifications in book-keeping or accounts.

You should check with individual employers about the qualifications and experience you need for each job.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

You will do most of your training on the job. Your training may cover telephone techniques, credit law, court orders and insolvency procedures.

Your training may include taking qualifications from the Credit Services Association (CSA) or the Institute of Credit Management (ICM). If you want to progress to credit manager, holding CSA or ICM qualifications may improve your promotion prospects. Qualifications include:

CSA/City & Guilds Diploma for the Debt Collecting Industry.

ICM Level 2 Diploma in Credit Management – an introductory course.

ICM Level 3 Diploma in Credit Management – a more advanced course.

ICM Level 5 Diploma in Credit Management – Foundation Degree standard.

You can study for CSA or ICM courses part-time or by distance learning.

You should keep your skills and knowledge of credit law up to date throughout your career. The ICM and CSA both offer a range of short courses and workshops to help your professional development.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A credit controller needs:

  • Good spoken and written communication skills.
  • An assertive but tactful manner.
  • Calmness under pressure.
  • An organised and methodical approach.
  • The ability to work to strict deadlines.
  • Good negotiation skills.
  • The ability to explain financial matters firmly and clearly.
  • Good mathematical skills.
  • Administrative and computer skills.

Your Long Term Prospects

With experience, you could be promoted to credit manager.

Alternatively, you could start your own collection agency (see the Credit Services Association website for advice about how to set up an agency).

Get Further Information

Institute of Credit Management,
The Water Mill, Station Road,
South Luffenham, Leicestershire LE15 8NB
Tel: 01780 722900

Credit Services Association,
Wingrove House, Ponteland Road,
Newcastle upon Tyne NE5 3DP
Tel: 0191 286 5656

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