Articles - CFDD National Conference, 2009

CFDD National Conference Coverage, 2009

Take a look at this year's coverage of the CFDD National Conference below.
Click here to see pictures from the event.

2009 conference attendees' comments:

"Wonderful conference! Welcoming people."

"All the sessions were great. Very, very good job! Very professional."

"Hazel Walker's information was wonderful. Great conference! I am glad I was able to attend."

"This was a great conference!"

"Love the combined class/presentations. Open forum was great!"

The CFDD National Conference: Managing Credit in Difficult Times

“Now is the time for credit professionals to shine,” encouraged CFDD National Chairman Mike Meyer, CCE, credit manager, JOFCO, Inc. “With tight bank credit, our customers try to use commercial credit as a financial resource. All of the many techniques we’ve learned—by attending conferences, seminars or monthly meetings—are now more important than ever.”

This year’s CFDD National Conference in Denver, Colorado took head-on the challenges the credit industry is facing in the current economic climate. Bankruptcies, delinquencies and defaults all surged upward during the final quarter of 2008 and into the first quarter of 2009. More and more companies turned to commercial lenders as sources of capital in lieu of banks, and that put the focus squarely on the credit manager’s role in nearly every corporate structure. The short era of boom that followed the first recession at the beginning of the decade has receded into the background, and the country has now entered a new epoch of faltering risk appetites.

“During periods of growth, we tend to forget that credit is a privilege,” reminded Meyer. “It’s worth remembering that, like all privileges, credit must be earned.”

The 2009 CFDD National Conference also forged a new path, altering the format from years past. Instead of offering a series of breakout sessions, the conference paraded its lineup of speakers in a single meeting room. This enabled all attendees the opportunity to benefit from the expertise of each presenter. The conference also rekindled the popular Open Forum, which allowed credit managers to engage in frank discussions about problems they confront each day, as well as those facing their companies and respective industries.

CFDD Chairman-elect Marlene Groh, CCE, credit manager, U.S. Foodservice and vice chairman of CFDD’s Education and Programs, is a strong proponent of the Open Forum. “It deals with everyday situations that you encounter at work and gives you great insight on how other industries deal with the same issues you have in a different manner,” Groh explained.

“During the Open Forum, one of the questions pertained to credit cards and the legitimacy of the company that places the order,” remarked Meyer. “I brought this to my CFO’s attention, and we are in the process of reviewing our credit card policies. Every conference I attend, I accumulate different ideas for our local Chapter.”

Groh added, “We are also going to post the Open Forum questions we did not get to answer on our LinkedIn group [page], which will keep the dialogue open among our members for longer than just a conference.”

Particularly in the current U.S. economic climate, networking opportunities are one of the most touted advantages that conferences, like the CFDD National gathering, provide. Business is a relationship between two parties, and CFDD has taken up the torch in encouraging its members and conference attendees to engage one another and step outside of their normal routines.

“We all have a tendency to mingle with the people we know best,” Meyer told attendees. He then asked that everyone sit at randomly assigned tables during the conference’s Networking Luncheon. “There is not a single time in the conference the attendees can’t network,” said Meyer. “Since we are all together, the feedback from the attendees allows others to seek out those who have experienced issues in the past. We are always networking.”

In addition to having the opportunity to socialize, network and build new partnerships, conference attendees were also able to visit exhibitors like ACM Payment Processing Solutions, WorkflowAR and Billtrust. The trio of vendor representatives also offered their expertise during the Open Forum.

As is tradition, CFDD took a moment during the conference to recognize important contributions from its local chapters. This year, the Grand Rapids Chapter earned honors for having the highest percentage of members in attendance—25%. Meanwhile, chapters in Charlotte, Los Angeles and Portland, as well as the former Dayton chapter, were also recognized for their generous contributions and sponsorship that made the National Conference possible.

During the three-day conference, attendees enjoyed a number of educational sessions. Hazel Walker, executive director, BNI, presented “Why Face-to-Face Networking is Important to Your Company,” which highlighted the seven kinds of networks and how to effectively utilize them. Walker also presented “How Online Networking Can Help You,” discussing the impact of trends in social media and how they can complement a credit manager’s face-to-face network. Bruce Nathan, Esq., partner, Bankruptcy, Financial Reorganization and Creditors’ Rights Group, Lowenstein Sandler PC, delved thoroughly into the timely issue of “Selling to a Company in Chapter 11.” He detailed security agreements like letters of credit and guarantees, as well as other risk mitigation instruments such as put agreements and the sale of claims.

Other educational presentations included “Communication & Credit” by Holly Brown, CCE, customer operations manager, Carroll Company, which encouraged credit managers to think about how they can improve their communications processes, and the ever-popular “Economic Update” by NACM Economist Chris Kuehl, Ph.D., managing director, Armada Corporate Intelligence. Phyllis Truitt, CCE, director, credit and collections, Atlas Van Lines, presented “Critical Thinking,” reassuring credit managers that change is not something to fear and to persuade them to take on a leadership role in their departments.

Conference attendees also participated in two fun events—a Dessert Auction and a Silent Auction—that not only allowed them to bid on great items and treats but to contribute to their organization’s success as well. Together, the two auctions brought in more than $4,200 for the CFDD National Scholarship Fund.

At NACM’s 113th Credit Congress in Orlando, Florida earlier this year, CFDD National awarded 58 scholarships totaling $17,818. A CFDD task force has been charged with increasing that number to $20,000. And because of the economic times facing the country, the CFDD National Board decided to take steps to ensure there is adequate funding to provide scholarships every year.

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