Credit Manager

The Job and What's Involved

Prompt cash collection is essential to any commercial organisation. Credit managers ensure that a business receives the money owed to it by customers. Businesses of all kinds above a certain size employ credit managers, to help them achieve better profitability and reduce financial risk.

Credit managers work in one of two main fields:

Trade Credit - managing money owed to the company by other businesses in return for goods or services.

Consumer Credit - managing debts that are to be paid off by individuals in installments, such as for a car, credit card or loan.

Tasks may include:

  • Assessing the financial record of potential customers, using a range of credit checks, to decide whether they should be granted credit.
  • Setting terms with customers, such as the amounts to be repaid in installments and the repayment period.
  • Contacting customers before debts are due to encourage prompt payment.
  • Monitoring the progress of debt repayments.
  • Resolving customer queries.
  • Streamlining processes to make payment easier.
  • Contacting customers who fail to make repayments, to remind and encourage them to meet their obligations.
  • Liaising with internal colleagues about future deliveries to customers who are not honouring the terms of their agreement.
  • Overseeing legal action against customers who continue to breach payment terms.
  • Dealing with administrators to recover money when a customer is declared insolvent.
  • Setting and reviewing the company's credit policies.
  • Drawing up contracts and keeping detailed records.
  • Providing regular reports and advice to company managers.
  • In a larger organisation, recruiting, training and managing the credit team.

In some companies, a credit manager takes hands-on responsibility for all credit issues. Credit managers in larger organisations may take a more strategic role and manage colleagues who handle the day-to-day tasks.

Credit managers report progress and discuss policy with senior colleagues. They usually report to a finance director.

A key part of the role is ensuring that comprehensive records are kept, generally on computer databases. Statistical reports are compiled using industry-standard software packages or specialised credit management software.

Credit managers generally work standard office hours, Monday to Friday. However, those involved with consumer credit may work different hours, including weekends. Longer hours may be necessary at busy periods, such as the end of the financial year.

Part-time work may be possible.

The work is office-based. Many credit managers travel to visit customers, so a driving licence may be useful. In international companies some travel abroad may be necessary.

These figures are only a guide, as actual rates of pay may vary, depending on the employer and where people live.

Credit manager salaries may start between around £25,000 to £28,000 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Credit managers are employed by commercial businesses in all sectors, including banking, retail, manufacturing and service industries.

There are opportunities throughout the UK and there is a steady demand for credit managers. There is usually competition for jobs.

Vacancies are advertised through the local press, financial magazines, such as Credit Management and Credit Collections & Risk, specialist recruitment agencies, including the Institute of Credit Management's (ICM) own agency, and websites.

Education and Training

Credit managers usually enter the job after gaining experience in a more junior role, such as credit controller.

There are no set entry requirements for credit controllers, but employers will often ask for good IT skills and GCSE's/S grades (A*-C/1-3) in maths and English, or equivalent qualifications such as a BTEC First qualification in business.

Credit managers usually need Institute of Credit Management qualifications as well as previous experience in credit. Employers may also prefer candidates with a degree, often in a related subject such as business, finance or accounting.

Several universities offer business and finance degree qualifications that contain an element of credit management. Minimum entry requirements for a degree course are usually two A levels/three H grades, plus five GCSE's/S grades (A*-C/1-3), or equivalent.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Training is usually on the job, often combined with study for qualifications.

Once in the job, credit managers can work towards recognised professional qualifications offered by the ICM:

The ICM Level 3 Diploma in Credit Management offers an introduction to credit management, as well as accounting, business law and the business environment. Candidates can study at home (with or without tutor support) or through online learning or evening classes at a local college. Successful candidates are eligible to become associates of the ICM or members of the Association of Credit Professionals (ACP).

The ICM Level 5 Diploma in Credit Management provides expertise in credit management. It covers credit policy, risk assessment and control, collections and department management, credit management law, legal proceedings and insolvency, and a practical project. Successful candidates become graduate members of the ICM.

Thames Valley University offers a foundation degree in credit management, aimed at people working in the field. Study is part time over four years. Candidates are eligible for associate membership of the ICM on successful completion of the first year, and graduate membership after the second. Holders of the foundation degree can go on to study for an honours degree by taking a top-up course, usually taking one year, full time.

The Credit Services Association has a range of public and in-house courses, including a City & Guilds diploma in debt collection.

Credit Management Training Ltd offers a range of training courses on topics relevant to credit management, including a Diploma in Credit Management at Level 4, accredited by the National College of Further Education and recognised by the ACP. Study is over five days, leading to an examination.

There are also Masters degree courses available in credit management and credit risk management.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A credit manager must have:

  • Excellent communication skills.
  • Accuracy and attention to detail.
  • The ability to analyse information.
  • Confidence with numbers and computers.
  • A flair for persuading and motivating others.
  • The ability to negotiate with people who may be in financial difficulty.
  • The drive to achieve and exceed targets.
  • A thorough knowledge of how businesses work.
  • A good knowledge of financial regulations.
  • Sound judgment, to decide when to act on non-payment.
  • A well-organised approach to record-keeping.

Your Long Term Prospects

Those employed by smaller organisations may need to change employers in order to advance their careers. Those in larger organisations may be promoted internally. Some businesses now have credit managers in senior positions, reporting directly to the board. Within international companies, there may be opportunities to work abroad.

Credit managers may move into related fields, such as risk management or customer service. Some become consultants, advising businesses on credit control.

Get Further Information

The Association of Credit Professionals (ACP),
The Old Surgery, Church Street, Cropwell Bishop, Nottingham NG12 3BY
Tel: 0115 989 9900

Credit Management Training Ltd,
The Old Surgery, Church Street, Cropwell Bishop, Nottingham NG12 3BY
Tel: 0115 989 9997

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

Financial Services Skills Council, 51 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HQ
Tel: 0845 257 3772

IFS School of Finance, IFS House,
4-9 Burgate Lane, Canterbury, Kent CT1 2XJ
Tel: 01227 762600

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

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