Meet Your 2017 NACM-National Chairman
Jay Snyder, CCE, ICCE
Last summer, Jay Snyder, CCE, ICCE, moved from his job as director, Global Credit Services at audio equipment firm Shure Incorporated to his new role as vice president, Credit, The Americas at Clearwater, FL-based Tech Data Corporation.
Above all, the career move into a fast-paced, dynamic industry has given Snyder the opportunity to grow and further what has been a successful career in credit. “I’m not a guy who’s happy being comfortable,” he acknowledged. “I like being challenged.” This month, Snyder will also take up the role as chairman of the NACM-National Board of Directors.
A big part of being able to face new challenges has involved fortifying his knowledge and experience in the industry with ongoing education, training and networking. NACM, with its various educational and networking offerings, has played a key role in these efforts.
“If you’re not developing yourself,” he said, “you’re doing yourself a disservice.” Credit professionals who find themselves in the same role for years or even decades should not postpone their own development and advancement, as they could risk falling behind in their current roles or missing out on a choice new opportunity, he suggested. It is advice he carries into his daily duties.
One of the first tasks that Snyder has undertaken in his new job has been to identify the development wants and needs of his staff members, along with the most appropriate ways to help them advance to the next phase of their careers. These include learning new skills or earning promotions, for instance. About half of his current credit staff is interested in pursuing NACM designations. He also actively encourages them to attend local meet-and-greets, credit conferences, Credit Congress and NACM’s Graduate School of Credit and Financial Management “so that when something comes up, you have someone to reach out to,” he said. “I’ve been successful because I surround myself with great people.”
He also stresses the importance of having an awareness of the latest management systems. Credit professionals never know when the next merger or acquisition will arise; they must be as prepared as possible and learn what they can about different systems. For instance, if a credit professional is using SAP currently and an acquiring company uses Oracle, it is a good practice to reach out to Oracle user groups to become acquainted with some of the terminology of that system. Learning more about supply chain financing, the vendor’s side of the equation in commercial transactions and financial analysis are also skill sets that add concrete value to any company, he noted.
In a rapidly evolving marketplace, he says that credit professionals need to understand how to take advantage of a variety of solutions, from credit insurance, escrow programs and assignment of proceeds to the best use of credit cards and deduction management, in order to get paid.
“To me, the most important tool you have is education, which allows you to become a well-rounded credit professional.”
Meeting New Challenges
The new position allows Snyder to address different credit and collections challenges. At the top of his list is developing better systems and methods to collect on the billions in revenue Tech Data Corp generates each year.
Another big change is how he views the customer relationship. Gone are the days of issuing credit and working with customers within the limits of a credit line that extended for years. “Every deal stands on its own,” Snyder noted. “If we concentrated simply on the customer as a whole, we might miss out on getting a deal done.” Instead, he’s focused on what transaction risks may emerge over the next couple of months, rather than looking at the risk a customer poses over the long term.
Commercial credit professionals should become a lot more personal with their customers, in Snyder’s estimation. That might mean uncovering more about their customers’ end customers or what risks arise today that may impede the process of getting paid. “If my customer has to change a product before it goes to the end user, what risk does that pose getting paid down the line?,” Snyder asked.
Realizing more symbiotic relationships with internal colleagues, such as sales team, is also vital, particularly in an industry like distribution where margins are thin and any misstep means losing profit on a deal. “That’s a big problem,” he said. “The sales-credit relationship has always been critical—today it is imperative.”
He stressed that meeting and talking regularly with internal and external clients and colleagues should be a priority.
Back to Basics
Almost immediately after arriving at Tech Data, Snyder reviewed the company’s credit process manual, which had not been updated recently. Some of the sections were still relevant and applicable, while others needed revision.
He’s currently working on the manual’s key performance indicators (KPIs) so that managers and supervisors have the necessary metrics to tell them how they are performing. For example, DSO has to remain as a KPI, but with the understanding that the credit department is only partially responsible for the figure. He’s also interested in including the Collections Effectiveness Index, a ratio that roughly determines the percentage of collections on accounts due in a given month.
Regardless of where they see the need for improvements, credit managers everywhere should make sure their company manuals are up-to-date, he advised.
International vs. Domestic Credit
Snyder cut his teeth in the industry working in international credit. Among the lessons he quickly learned was that some of the best people to ask for advice when he met a roadblock were those who began in domestic credit but had to evolve, he said.
The point goes to the heart of his prediction that there is going to be little distinction between domestic and international credit in the future, especially for those commercial creditors working in manufacturing and other fields. Instead, everyone will have to know a bit of both in order to grow and succeed in the profession. He realizes that, “If you’re trying to do things in a vacuum, you’re not going to be successful.”
Learning about commercial culture in different countries is an important strategy for staying out of those isolating silos. Credit professionals entering markets in Europe, Asia or Latin America and treating collections just like they would at home won’t work, “because they will shut you down very quickly,” Snyder said. “It requires an awareness of who and where you’re collecting from.”