The Connection
May 2021 / June 2021
Say "Hello" to NACM's Newest Members

4Refuel US, LLC
American Motor & Controls, LLC
All Commercial Floors
Arcosa Aggregates (Multiple member)
Crawford Electric Supply Co. (4 Multiple members)
Dealers Electrical Supply Co. (5 Multiple members)
GHX Industrial, LLC
Hilti, Inc.
PLM Fleet, LLC d/b/a PLM Trailer Leasing
WCT Rents
Find us on YouTube!!
You can learn how to build a rocket on YouTube, why not learn more about your NACM Southwest membership? We welcome everyone to find us on YouTube as we are starting our Membership by the Minutes Series! Quick videos that detail one aspect of being an NACM Southwest member. What do you need to know about your membership benefits? If you think of a topic, let us know and we will create the content.

Congratulations to CHERYL RANALLETTA (Coastal Chemical) in Louisiana. She is retiring at the end of May and plans to move back to Florida to enjoy time with her family, friends and THE BEACH! All the best, Cheryl!

Sadly, Louisiana recently lost one of it’s members. Bruce Farrell, owner of Campbell Cabinets passed away in March. We extend our sincere condolences to Bruce’s family, friends and his colleagues within the credit community.


Apologies to RITA MILANO, CBA (Hajoca Corporation) who was inadvertently left off the list of CBA recipients in our last newsletter. Rita recently completed the requirements for the Certified Business Associate. Congratulations, Rita, on your accomplishment!

The More You Know

Upcoming for 2021 Accreditation Test Dates and Application Deadlines:

  • Application Due: May 28, 2021
  • Exam Date: July 26, 2021

  • Application Due: August 6, 2021
  • Exam Date: October 10, 2021 (Credit Congress Kansas City, MO)

  • Application Due: September 10, 2021
  • Exam Date: November 8, 2021

  • Application Due: January 15, 2022
  • Exam Date: March 7, 2022

  • Application Date: April 15, 2022
  • Exam Date: June 5, 2022 (Credit Congress Louisville, KY)

  • Application Date: May 27, 2022
  • Exam Date: July 25, 2022

  • Application Date: September 9, 2022
  • Exam Date: November 7, 2022

Upcoming Webinars and Continuing Education:
May 7 – Advanced Bonds and Liens pt. 1 with Randall Lindley
May 25 – UTA Live Drawing for a $500 Scholarship – Email to find out how to enter
May 23-27 – Basic Financial Accounting – Fast Track Class with Toni Drake, CCE
Late May/Early June – Credit Insurance – Jay Tenney
June 25 – Advanced Bonds and Liens pt. 2 with Randall Lindley
June/July – Trey Copeland – Contract Terms/Terminology
July 22 – Construction Boot Camp with Rebecca Hicks
July 25-29 – Financial Statement Analysis pt. 1 with Toni Drake, CCE
August 5 – Check Fraud with Michael Williams, UTA
September 6 – Texas Bonds and Liens with Chris Ring
September 7 – Oklahoma Bonds and Liens with Chris Ring
September 8 – Louisiana Bonds and Liens with Chris Ring
October 10-13 – Credit Congress

Questions? Please visit our website at or give us a call at 972-518-0019
15% OFF
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Future of Remote Work Requires Investment of Time and Money:

Over the past year, thousands of companies were forced to adapt their work environments to protect the health of their employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. By January 2021,PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PwC) U.S. Remote Work survey found that 83% of employers and 71% of employees felt the shift to remote working was “successful for their company,” citing examples of increased productivity and collaboration. Moving into 2021, companies are discussing their investments
to remote work and how remote work will factor into their operations post-COVID.

The onset of the pandemic opened the eyes for many employers who realized their employees were able to perform their jobs at home just as successfully as if they were in the office. As of last month, PwC found that executives in the U.S. are pursuing new investments to support a hybrid workplace, the majority of respondents (72%) planning to invest in tools for virtual collaboration. Additional investments include IT infrastructure to secure virtual connectivity, training for managers to manage a
more virtual workforce and conference rooms with enhanced virtual connectivity.

“Companies that may have been slow to adopt technologies that support remote work—or to create clear rules and a secure structure around [work from home]—are playing catch-up,” the study states. “Optimizing the hybrid workplace requires accelerating investments to support virtual collaboration and creativity, as well as for scheduling and safety. … Half plan to invest more in areas that support hybrid working models, including hoteling apps (50%) and communal space in the office (48%). ”

At Apogee Enterprises, Director of Credit and Collections Jerry Drake, CCE, said his company anticipates remote work for at least the next four months, continuing their use of WebEx and Zoom—software applications used for web and videoconferencing. The company and its credit department have invested time and money into remote work, he said especially as it pertains to security.

“We provided everyone with VPN secured gateway access and allowed those without laptops to take their desk computers and monitors home with them,” Drake said. While VPNs, or virtual private networks, promote online privacy, secure web gateways act as “a cyberbarrier or checkpoint” that “keeps unauthorized traffic from entering an organization's network,” according to McAfee.

“We also provided links to their desktop phones from home via Cisco IP Communicator,” Drake added. “While I am not a fan of remote work, it is the way of the future. A few positions will be working in the office, but several will alternate from home and office.”

Additional tools Apogee Enterprises provided to its credit department included headsets for employees’ phones and computers as well as extra ink for home printers. Drake said that communication tools will to enhance and virtual meetings will become the norm.

Having relied heavily on paper customer files pre-COVID, Sumitomo Electric Lightwave Director of Credit Chris Finch said he had to invest in creating electronic files for all customers. This change has only been good for the credit department, he said, only adding a little more to the process, e.g., getting electronic
signatures for sign-offs on approvals.

Adopting electronic processes has also heled Finch drive more customers to paying via ACH, effectively cutting out mail time, the possibility of lost and check fraud. Sumitomo Electric Lightwave anticipates the continuation of remote work at least until the end of February. Finch said he anticipates a gradual transition back to the workplace, alternating personnel in some positions on different days of the week.

No matter where the credit department is working in the future, Finch said the changes made during the pandemic have helped usher them into a new technological era.

“It will be really interesting to see what the office footprint of companies looks like two to three years from now versus today, as there are some companies that will probably offer remote work as an option that hadn’t previously,” he said. “I’ve always said credit is one job that is perfect for working from home, but I’ve been told that the Japanese like seeing faces every day, so it may be cultural.”

—Andrew Michaels, editorial associate
Virtual Meetings Introduce a New Form of Etiquette:

If you ask business credit professionals about their work environment, the majority will likely describe an office setting equipped with desks, computers, landlines and other tools often found in an office building. Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic turned the tables on what a standard office environment is, leaving many scrambled to create new workspaces in their homes, albeit lacking the usual office resources. An abrupt transition from a desk to a kitchen table and/or strong internet connections to spotty connections can be complicated, yet perhaps the most challenging change is the way credit professionals communicate with their employers, colleagues and customers.

Leaving their previous office settings meant credit professionals could no longer stop by another’s office to ask a question or host/attend an in-person meeting in the conference room. Phone calls and emails were the next natural steps toward maintaining constant communication, but today’s technological advances also allowed companies to explore the concept of virtual meetings through platforms such as Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and more. In a recent NACM survey, more than half of the respondents said they implemented and used new technology, such as these platforms, since the onset of the pandemic that they didn’t use prior to COVID-19.

However, just because the work environment changes doesn’t mean professionals can put proper etiquette on hold. In April 2020, U.S. News & World Report discussed “the do’s and don’ts of virtual meetings” to teach companies how etiquette changes during the transition from working in an office space to working from home.

Being on Time Means You’re Late
Although the world has hit many technological strides, there is always room for error. Before the meeting begins, attendees will find it beneficial to set up any of the necessary equipment early, e.g., computers, internet, headphones, etc. The U.S. News & World Report article recommends logging in to the video platform at least five minutes prior to the meeting to ensure everything is working properly, in turn, also showing courtesy to the meeting’s host and other attendees.

“If time is money, then by arriving five minutes late you’ve just stolen something of value from the other person, which is not a great way to start any important business negotiation,” wrote the author of an article for Cydcor outsourced sales services. “The other person feels like they’ve already given you something, so they’re not going to be as likely to give you more.”

Corporate Credit Manager D’Ann Johnson, CCE, said while no one can avoid every technical issue, doing a test ensures that the majority of issues can be worked through before having a waiting and captive audience. Depending upon the presentation or the information, she said, people may sign off or sign off early because of delays due to an overlap for another meeting or a call that takes precedence.

In addition to weakening the late attendee’s position, being late may give the host and other attendees the idea that the late party lacks integrity, respect and reliability. Therefore, barring a real emergency, virtual meeting attendees must arrive early.

Sight and Sound
Think back to the days when departments had in-person meetings. Whether in an office or a conference room, attendees gathered around in their seats for a face-to-face discussion. Today, these discussions are more likely face-to-video-to-face interactions. Although questions of where the meeting will be held and whether there are enough seats for everyone are no longer issues, virtual meetings introduce changes to how one sees and hears others.

Justin Anovick, chief product officer of digital experience platform provider Episerver, told U.S. News & World Report that a common mistake users make involves lighting. For example, setting up a computer near a window may cause problems with lighting, making it difficult for other meeting participants to see the attendee. The same can be said if the attendee sets up somewhere dark such as a basement. It is proper etiquette that individuals attend their virtual meeting in a space with adequate lighting, therefore, maintaining a form of face-to-face interaction.

Sound also comes into play as attendees have the option to mute themselves or even the entire meeting. Tim Ihlefeld, president and CEO of Harqen, a company that provides digital interviewing technology, said in the aforementioned article that just because an attendee thinks they’re quiet doesn’t rule out the possibility of ambient noise.

“When you’re on these conferences and you’re not talking, it’s very, very helpful to put yourself on mute,” Ihlefeld said. The muffled noise of an air conditioning or heating unit, or the thumping of a washer or dryer can easily become an instant distraction.

“Even if you are working in an office setting, any background noise or conversation can be picked up and cause interference with the speakers or overshadow what is being said,” Johnson added. “Additionally, I’ve been on calls where someone is shuffling papers close to their microphone without realizing that the sound is being broadcast to the attendees.”

With such distractions aside, credit professionals can lead and attend successful virtual meetings.

—Andrew Michaels, editorial associate
Continuing Education with NACM’s Certification Programs:
American author and business consultant, Ken Blanchard said, “All leaders are permanent learners.” Many leadership experts like Blanchard have shared similar sentiments about why leaders must continue to educate themselves in their respective industries.

In the business credit profession, college courses on the subject are sparse. Although experience is an excellent teacher, several credit professionals said completing NACM’s professional certification programs has not only improved their understanding of credit, but also has opened up new opportunities to become leaders in the credit department.

The certification process begins with the NACM National education department, which tracks progress, including courses completed and designations earned. NACM offers four levels of certification, which build off of each other:

• Credit Business Associate (CBA) is an academic-based designation, which signifies mastery of three business credit disciplines: Basic Accounting, Business Credit Principles and Introductory Financial Statement Analysis.
• Credit Business Fellow (CBF) is earned after the CBA and is an academic- and participation-based designation, which affirms recipients understand and contribute to the field of business credit. Courses include Business Law and Credit Law.
• Certified Credit Risk Analyst (CCRA) is also an academic-based designation, which signifies mastery in the analysis and interpretation of financial statements and the ability to make informed credit risk assessments.
• Certified Credit Executive (CCE) is NACM’s highest designation and substantiates mastery of the credit function at an executive level. Candidates must pass a rigorous exam that tests their knowledge in the areas of accounting, finance, domestic and international credit concepts, management and law. Holders of a CCE designation must recertify every three years, further endorsing their commitment to continuing education, self-improvement and advancement in the business credit profession.

International designations are comprised of the Certified International Credit Professional (CICP) and the top-level International Certified Credit Executive (ICCE). To earn the CICP, candidates must successfully complete the International Credit & Risk Management online course and exam.

“Credentials add a level of credibility and trust to the work that you do without ever having to explain to people what you know and how you know it,” said Teresa Silva, CCE, of Simple Sums Accounting. “There is an immediate understanding to clients and business professionals of what it takes to obtain and maintain the credentials. They immediately present you as a knowledgeable individual in your chosen profession.”

Veteran Credit Manager Anne Scarcella, CCE, CCRA, said a credit professional’s credentials show their commitment to the profession. Today, more than 10,000 credit professionals hold certifications.

“Honestly, I couldn’t be as effective in my role without the knowledge I have gleaned from NACM during all of my years of participation in the certification program,” said Scarcella, who is currently the territory credit manager for Crawford Electric Supply. “My participation has increased my knowledge and helped me to become a better credit manager. I have been incredibly fortunate to join to an incredible network of credit professionals that are as passionate and interested in credit as I am.”

“A designation indicates a commitment and passion for the profession,” said Ed Bell, CBA, CICP, ICCE, senior manager for Grainger’s credit administration. “It also indicates you have been properly trained in the principles of credit, which are not really taught in college courses.”

In the year and a half, it took him to earn his designations, Bell proved to his company how beneficial they were to his department and he eventually made NACM designations a requisite for his staff.

The effective management of company resources, specifically credit, is essential for a company to remain viable, Bell said. Credit education has earned him respect from peers and leadership within the company as well as a leadership role, he added. The knowledge he and the others in his credit department gained through credentialing has improved performance in the department and strengthened the relationship with other departments and senior leaders.

In addition to respect, Richard Worden, CBA, CBF, CCE, senior manager of credit and collections at Sidley Austin LLP, noted his designations have earned him trust from his internal and external clients.

“My designations have created opportunities for connection, and my supervisors have grown to trust my judgment and expertise,” Worden said. “I once had a situation where I searched for a new position, and I had an offer within two business days of my interview. The certification was important and the company agreed to financially maintain it.”

Becoming a leader means investing in yourself. Attaining designations means spending weeknights and weekends studying and completing homework, but it’s worth it, said Wendy Mode, CCE, CICIP, corporate credit manager for ROMCO Equipment Co. For example, several of her employers accepted her CCE designation in lieu of a bachelor’s degree, even preferring it because of its focus on credit management and the accompanying responsibilities.

“I was highly encouraged to get my credentials in order to learn more and become active in the NACM community,” Mode said. “Not only the education and learning, but the networking would provide far greater benefits than ever imagined.”

For more information on NACM’s Certification Programs, go to
Letters of Credit in a Digital Age

Credit professionals have many tools at their disposal. These tools range from information and knowledge to something that can be physically held in their hands. The benefit of learning something new about a potential customer from an industry trade group is invaluable as is a calculable ratio based on a set of numbers from a financial document or a risk score on a new customer. Sometimes, this information can be a tangible asset while other times is it not. These tools can fall into what can be considered hybrid as well. Such is the case in Asia, where two banks are breaking ground in cross-border transactions.

City Bank announced earlier this month that it became the first Bangladeshi bank to execute a cross-border letter of credit (LC) under Shariah-based financing using blockchain. The transaction between a Bangladeshi garments business and a Hong Kong-based exporter was conducted on Contour’s network. The LC, from draft initiation to issuance and advising, took 38 minutes, as compared to the typical up to three days for regular cross-border LCs.

“Blockchain technology allows parties to manage their own data while transacting and viewing shared information seamlessly and securely with their trading partners and service providers,” states the release from City Bank. “This results in transparency in transactions, reducing the scope for forgery and fraud significantly.”

Meanwhile, HDBank announced it became the first Vietnamese bank to conduct such a transaction—between a fiber importer and a Taiwanese yarn manufacturer. According to BTCManager, the use of blockchain in letters of credit transactions is increasing. “Blockchain offers better security and faster processing of transactions,” the news outlet reported. “It also minimizes errors that are common with paperwork and saves time. Blockchain as a distributed ledger enables the storage of huge data of statistics, management data, and historical transactions between customers.”

The use of this technology is not without its complications and challenges. In many ways, digitizing and securitizing the documents with encryptions is the easy part compared to the navigation of international regulations. “The product can be crossing all kinds of borders; it can be in three or four countries over the course of the shipment, so whose laws apply?” asked Chris Pilkington, international banking relationship manager with First National Bank, which is headquartered in Pittsburgh. There has been an electronic uniform customs and practices (eUCP) process governed by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) for several years, noted Pilkington, yet each sovereignty has its own digital document laws and some don’t have any.

“There are different regulations and levels of digital sophistication around the world,” added Yenner Karto, senior vice president and head of international banking at FNB. Not every bank around the world will have the same technological expertise. Not even every country is using the same technology within its borders. On the positive side, commodity shipments with LCs can be done totally digitally because the entire vessel of product is going from one seller to one buyer—not all different products belonging to multiple shippers, noted Pilkington. However, this is not the norm at all yet.
While the buyer applies for the LC at their bank and they tell the bank what the LC will say, the seller should also provide an LC sample of what they are expecting, said Pilkington.
“What goes into the letter of credit should be dictated as much as possible by the seller,” said Karto. “So, when a sales contract is signed, it’s part of the contract to state what the seller wants in the LC. Establish the terms and conditions to influence the LC as much as possible. Where we see the seller go wrong is when the seller says, ‘We want a letter of credit,’ but they don’t specify further.”

What Pilkington and Karto have seen is that buyers can and will use the LC as a sort of safeguard, including multiple different requirements to use as reasons to not release payment on time to the seller. “Even though the buyer issues the LC through their bank, the terms and conditions of the LC should be strongly influenced by the needs of both parties,” Karto said.

The first webinar of a four-part LC series hosted by FCIB begins Thursday, Feb. 4. LC expert Richard “Chip” Thomas will present a different aspect of LCs in each session. Find out more and register here.

-Michael Miller, NACM managing editor
NACM Southwest Scholarship Fund
The NACM Southwest Education Fund is designed for ALL NACM Southwest members who contribute to the fund. It provides a great opportunity to help keep the costs affordable for the educational seminars and events that your association offers.
With your contribution, you and your company, as well as your fellow credit professionals, help provide the opportunity for low cost educational events that help elevate the level of the credit profession and professional.
The next time you receive your invoice, please consider the voluntary education fund contribution. The beneficiary of the fund may be you and your company!
Any questions regarding the Education Program please contact Tony Clark NACM Southwest 972/518-0019.