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Sector Insight - Credit Management

October 2013

Employers are continuing to recruit into credit control roles with further uplift likely as the recovery gathers pace.

Hiring into credit management positions has held up well during the downturn due to companies’ focus on cash flow and bad debt. Last quarter, there was no noticeable uplift in credit control appointments despite growth returning to the UK economy. This is likely to change, however, because businesses are recruiting into their sales and marketing teams as they prepare to expand once again, and in the not too distant future the uplift in orders and sales will have an impact on workload in sales ledger and credit functions. Confidence is returning to the market, which means that companies with established credit management teams will seek additional headcount to support the business as it grows while those that have never had a credit function in the past may create one now.

Credit risk professionals are finding that their services are in considerable demand across all sectors. This is due to employers fearing that the return to growth could herald a spate of insolvencies as interest rates rise and banks finally pull the plug on so-called ‘zombie companies’. Bringing in a dedicated risk specialist frees up the rest of the credit team to focus on collections in what is still a difficult trading environment. At present, there are sufficient candidates to fill the available risk openings but this could change as the economy continues to recover. Credit risk professionals typically earn between £25,000 and £45,000 depending on their location.

Manufacturing is hiring slightly more credit controllers than other sectors due to expansion in overseas markets. Across all sectors, the credit control skills sought by employers will vary according to the size of the business. Large corporates tend to look for specific skill-sets such as collection experience while smaller businesses want more rounded skill-sets that encompass managing risk exposure, allocating cash and arranging credit insurance. In the SME sector, employers also value candidates who have invoice factoring and invoice discounting expertise.

Greater focus on exports means that both large businesses and SMEs need to collect more debt in overseas markets. As a result, credit controllers with language skills are sought after. French, German, Italian and Spanish are among the most commonly requested languages but roles also exist for speakers of Eastern European and Nordic languages as well as Chinese Mandarin. There is a shortage of candidates with both language and credit control skills, which means that employers in some locations are having to decide which skill is more important to them.

Qualifications from the Institute of Credit Management are increasingly prized by employers, who favour credit control candidates who are studying with the ICM. At credit manager level, a qualification is generally seen as more of a nice-to-have, however, and when making these appointments employers tend to focus on candidates’ credit risk experience, systems knowledge and commercial nous. This reflects the greater prominence of the credit manager’s role with a business now – they will often be expected to attend meetings with sales teams and customers and may be involved in contract negotiations.

Credit controllers typically earn £18,000 to £25,000, depending on location, while credit managers take home between £30,000 and £70,000 depending on seniority and location. Over the past five years, there has been downward pressure on salaries due to the impact of redundancies made during the recession, but this is starting to reverse as the economy picks up. Although the permanent market has been busier than the temporary market in recent months, this is likely to change going forward as businesses look to expand their credit control activities and hire additional resource to support existing teams and at Hays we are already seeing this trend in the south east of England.

To find out more about opportunities in credit management, contact Catherine Gates on 0113 243 8384