James A. Fried, CCE, CCM - January, 2008



Jim Fried, CCM, CCE

Not too long ago, I had the opportunity to read a speech that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivered to the United States Congress on January 6, 1941. In that speech, often described as the Four Freedoms Address, FDR outlined his vision for the future of civilization and the four freedoms he saw as essential to us. FDR’s Four Freedoms are: the Freedom of Speech, the Freedom of Religion, the Freedom from Want, and the Freedom from Fear.

This speech inspired me to stop and consider a couple of questions: What freedoms are most essential to our association, and what rights are so fundamental to our profession that they must be guarded and protected?

Let me share my thoughts with you:

Freedom of association is essential. The freedom to form, join, and support an organization of choice is essential to everyone in a free society, and to everyone reading this commentary. I credit much of my professional success to my association, NACM. Without the educational and professional support I receive from NACM, I would not lead a successful credit career.

My association with NACM credit groups has made me a better credit professional and has saved my company money. I learned how my peers deal with difficult customers, and I learned techniques to better communicate with my company’s management. I have also fostered a network of professional contacts, who continue to support me. Like my credit group experience, my association with my local Affiliate has made me a stronger, more successful credit professional and therefore, an important player in my company. The tools and services, like open access to credit reports and credit groups help me make better credit decisions on behalf of the my company.

My association with the National Board has pushed me to reach new heights. It’s made me a better visionary and taught me to think critically about issues important and relevant to the future of our association. It’s through my association with NACM, that I have the privilege to be writing this commentary, and to in turn, be associated with all of you.

Freedom to lobby congress for sound public policy, sound laws and regulations is another critical freedom. At the very core of NACM, is the mission to monitor legislation at the Federal level.

Freedom of a free market economy is critical to us as professionals. A free market is a market in which prices of goods and services are arranged completely by the mutual consent of sellers and buyers. By definition, in a free market environment buyers and sellers do not coerce or mislead each other nor are they coerced by a third party. In the aggregate, the effect of these decisions en masse is described by the natural law of supply and demand. Free markets contrast sharply with controlled markets, in which governments directly or indirectly regulate prices or supplies, distorting market signals. In a free market, this relationship between price and value is more clear than in a controlled market. Through competition between vendors for the provision of products and services, prices tend to decrease, and quality tends to increase.

Commercial credit is key to a free market and commercial credit is key to our economy. It’s tough out there: All of our businesses are searching for ways to survive this economic downturn. Our recessionary environment may not seem as deep as other economic downturns, but it could last longer as banks work their way through the myriad problems caused by a lack of liquidity. Our companies are going to feel pain from the depths of their debt and their efforts to get out from under it.

Now is the time to let our knowledge and leadership skills shine through: we have the knowledge and the ability to expertly guide our companies through this rough patch. Reach out through your NACM for advice – there are so many credit professionals that have managed credit through rough economic times who are more than willing to share their knowledge with you.

Relying on Freedom of information will enable us to make sound credit decisions on behalf of our companies. Turn to your NACM for credit information: the free exchange of credit information is a core freedom to our association. Freedom of information is key – whether it’s through freedom of speech, freedom of the press, it’s what keeps credit professionals on the cutting edge.

Don’t let your skills age: now more than ever, you need to keep your skills up-to-date and fresh. Participate in educational offerings and attend the upcoming conference in your region. Take an hour to participate in NACM’s audio teleconferences and attend your credit group meetings. Draw upon the strength of your NACM network. Because of freedom, all of these opportunities are available to us: leverage the opportunity to strengthen your company.