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Published Articles by David Balovich

Published in: Creditworhty News
Date: 12/4/97

(Intro by Rich Hill)

In the November 12th issue of Creditworthy News, David Balovich made mention of credit and confidentiality with the following comment:

"There is an old credit myth that says credit information is confidential and should be closely guarded. Well, I do not disagree entirely but we must keep in mind whose information this belongs to. It does not belong to us or the credit department, it belongs to our organization and they have every right to see what we are looking at to make our decisions. Just as we expect sales to provide us all the necessary information to evaluate the applicant, sales is entitled to all the information we used to reach our conclusion."

This got the attention of Nancy Adams CCE, from Oregon Steel Mills. She wrote back with the following comment of her own:

From my credit experience the 80/20 rule prevails, 20% of the normal portfolio is "marginal". Confidentiality is NOT an "old credit myth" and "Sales is NOT entitled to all the information we used to reach our conclusion".

The Statement of Principles was written by RMA and NACM in 1955 and revised in 1978. Its first principle is "Confidentiality is the cardinal rule in the exchange of credit information. The identity of inquirers and sources should not be disclosed without their permission".

Actual examples and consequences:

1. A potential customer refuses to share financial information. In a prior disclosure financial information got into the hands of his competition. He will never again disclose financial information.

2. A NSF check is received. Credit calls other suppliers and then shares the information with his controller. The controller tells the customer who calls all of the other suppliers to decry their actions. The other suppliers threaten to never share any information with the credit manager.

3. The customer learns that his company was a subject of conversation at an industry group meeting and threatens to sue for defamation.

4. Trade history on a customer is disclosed at an industry group meeting. The sales person of a member firm shows up at this customer's facility the next day.

5. A supplier is sued for allegedly causing the demise of a customer's firm by refusing to grant credit. The customer had heard that trade references were instrumental in the decision. The court demanded the credit manager reveal his sources or be charged with contempt of court. He declined. Confidentiality is the fundamental tool that allows the free flow of credit information. Lack of professionalism in the credit function will destroy access to information to make good decisions. Support from your company comes if you have a good track record and use diplomacy. There are alternatives to revealing sensitive and potentially damaging information about customers.

Thanks for your comments, Nancy. Does anyone else have any thoughts on the subject? Next week, Dave Balovich will respond to Nancys comments.

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