Thanks to Portfolio Manager we have hardly any bad debts
’What characterises the market? What are the laws and rules? Who is your customer? How is his business doing? Can the customer pay? These are all questions to which Wilma Arends (in March 2011 proclaimed Credit Manager of the year), Credit Risk Manager at Belden EMEA quickly wants an answer. ‘Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) provides accurate international business information on which we can blindly rely for the limitation of our credit risks.’
About Belden EMEA
‘Belden began about 100 years ago in America with the production of electrical cables. After a while, they also concentrated on applications for broadcasting and building for example. Belden thus make HDMI cables, the highest tower in Dubai is equipped with hundreds of kilometres of our cables and we supplied the cabling for the Olympic Games.
Belden EMEA opened its doors in Venlo at the end of the 20th century. This business unit is responsible for working the market in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Various acquisitions followed. Since then, Belden has been concentrating more and more on the production and sale of supplementary products, such as connectors and switches, so that a total product is produced. Every cable has a beginning and an end after all.’
'We are exploring many unknown markets, each with different laws and rules with which we have to comply. We also have to know in which countries which payment instalments are usual, which purchasing conditions apply and if political issues are involved. We also want to know how creditworthy each (potential) customer is and what maximum limit should be granted We must also quickly have current and detailed information available in order to assess this for each (potential) market and customer.
In my department, 5 people administer about 5,000 customers. As expected, the big(ger) customers require the most attention. With the small(er) customers it is, up to a certain limit, imperative to work fast. There must be as little work as possible involved. Considering these factors, information is the most important thing for my department, we must have a blind trust in having correct data.’
‘The relationship with D&B has existed for some time. As an international player, we looked for a strategic partner for the purchase of worldwide business information. D&B is the market leader and like us is represented in many countries. For the acquisition of reliable information, we can therefore look to one supplier and do not have to deal with several parties in order to obtain detailed local information. Moreover, the quality of the information that we receive from D&B is of high value and is easy to process for us. And what is also not unimportant: the more we take, the lower the tariff.’
Cooperation and solutions D&B
‘We use Portfolio Manager on the advice of D&B. This tool provides for exampleinsight into annual figures and creditworthiness. Moreover, we value the assessment of a customer by D&B. What is more, for the smaller customers we fully rely on the expertise of D&B. We also subject bigger customers to a thorough analysis ourselves. It is ideal that D&B uses DUNS numbers for each separate entity, so that we can assess if we would like to do business with a certain customer even before a project begins.’
‘The outsourcing of the acquisition of business information saves us a lot of time, money and energy. We do not have to do it ourselves and we can quickly draw conclusions. Naturally it is also sometimes difficult even for D&B to acquire detailed information about companies in for example Kazakhstan, Belarus and the Middle East, but in general D&B is highly successful in otaining quality information. During the credit crisis, we have thus seen less than a handful of bankruptcies amongst our customers and these also involved small amounts. Jointly due to Portfolio Manager we write off virtually nothing on account of bad debtors.’
Advice and summary
‘The following applies to credit management in general: prevention is better than cure. The cooperation with D&B contributes to this end. As we use Portfolio Manager, we always know with whom we do business. This limits our risk, because incorrect decisions are prevented. What I value enormously is that D&B, in spite of its size and international character, maintains personal contact with us. The D&B account manager visits us regularly and I can always contact him if anything is going on. He is always ready to think with us. We thus wish to proceed to an automated integration of the data of D&B in our own systems, such as our ERP, so that a complete overview is quickly produced of what is current and what is history. D&B fully supports us in this process of business intelligence.’