In this article our Executive Consultant for Credit Management, Chris Parker, details what it takes to become a Credit Controller, and what you can expect from a typical day.
1. What is the starting salary range for this role?
As with a lot of entry level roles, starting salaries can be very dependent on the industry. Expect anything from £18K in travel and hospitality, to £26K in legal and professional services (with salaries coming in £2-3K lower outside of Central London). But remember, those first few years are all about getting the experience you need, to springboard yourself into something better further down the line, so don’t get to caught up on specific salaries on that first role.
2. How do you enter this field?
A Credit Controller once told me that the way he got his clients to pay him on time every week was to make friends with each of them. Over time he shifted professional conversation to personal conversation and said that eventually he barely had to ask for payment at all, and this was because his payers didn’t want to let him down.
Credit Controllers are the salespeople of the accounts department. They build relationships, they enjoy negotiating and influencing, they’re curious and like getting answers to their questions. They’re goal-orientated, tenacious and they enjoy winning.
If you have these qualities then don’t worry too much about your qualifications, as long as you’re willing to convince a Credit Manager to give you a chance, you’ll be just fine!
3. What does a typical day in the office look like? (tasks, responsibilities etc)
For this I decided to go on a field trip up to the sixth floor to talk to Jake, our Senior Credit Controller. Other than taking apart the rest of the collections team on FIFA over lunch, he said:
“At first, I generally get into a whole host of emails, with calls to attention from my key accounts. After doing the necessary investigations to get these queries answered, I then crack on with looking through the cash sheet and allocating cash to my name, before getting on the phone to our overdue clients, starting with the most dated to the least. Finally, I’ll wrap up by going back to any of the queries I’ve had during that time to try and get things sorted before home time.”
4. What is the most challenging aspect of the job?
Credit control presents all sorts of different challenges but the ones I often hear from my candidates are; the chasing of purchase order numbers, customer account reconciliations, and when payers promise the world and then consistently don’t deliver!
5. What is the most rewarding aspect of the job?
Hitting targets is always a buzz for anyone and we all love watching money accumulate in the bank account as a result of our hard work. Albeit not all their own money, Credit Controllers get to tie the two of these together every day, and with every call they make and every person that they influence, they get that much closer to hitting the glory figure.
My only advice would be don’t be too good, because whenever you hit that magic number, your manager will always up it. High performers, you’ve been warned!
6. What skills are the most important to perform well in this kind of role?
You need to be the sort of person who enjoys getting the bit between their teeth. Giving up won’t be an option to you, and you’ll be someone who knows how to get their own way, not because you were spoilt when you were a child, but because you’ve learnt how to, through trial and error and hard work.
Being social will be useful to you and being able to treat people and situations on a case by case basis and empathise are all qualities that’ll stand you in good stead for success in this role.
7. What advice would you give to someone looking to apply for a similar role?
Be yourself. Good credit control is all about using your personality to get the best out of the people you’re working with (both clients and colleagues!), so don’t hide behind your CV in an interview, show them who you are and take the interviewer out on the open road!*
*This is figurative and refers to conversation – forcing a road trip during an interview almost always ends badly.