Credit controllers are responsible for collecting unpaid money from individuals or corporations who have failed to process payments on time. They also look after the financial side of a company and ensure that accounts are kept fully up to date and accurate.
Credit controllers are responsible for performing both commercial collection and consumer collection. The first type of collection refers to the practice of recovering debts from large businesses and companies. The second type of collection refers to the practice of recovering debts from individuals who have failed to make payments on time. Many credit controllers who focus upon these two kinds of collection work solely for third party collection agencies, which are responsible for recovering debts. However, some credit controllers work for a particular company (usually in the finance or accounts department) and will be responsible for making sure that suppliers and customers of the organisation make payments on time and in full.
The gender ratio for a job in credit control is fairly balanced, with many women and men deciding to pursue it as their career choice.
Credit controllers starting out in the job can expect to earn between £12,000 and £15,000 per year. After a few years in the position, individuals may earn between £16,000 and £20,000, although it is not unusual for this figure to rise to between £22,000 and £23,000. Credit controllers who hold senior positions or managerial positions can expect to earn up to £30,000 per year. Additional benefits are also likely, particularly for those working in the finance departments of large companies. These benefits may include the provision of a company car and bonuses are a likely feature of the job.
The typical tasks undertaken on a daily basis by credit controllers include:
- Performing initial tasks related to commercial collection and consumer collection, including making phone calls to those owing money
- Checking credit records on databases and maintaining and updating these databases on a regular basis
- Listening to the financial issues of customers and subsequently negotiating repayment plans
- Keeping accurate records of payments
- Checking the accounts of the company on a regular basis
- Initiating legal procedures if debts are still not paid following initial action
- Discussing individual cases with legal officials including solicitors and bailiffs
- Collecting payments directly from customers
- Accepting or rejecting credit applications from individuals
- Ensuring that financial contracts are signed by appropriate parties
- Keeping employees in other departments in a company aware of financial matters
Credit controllers do not need to hold any specific qualifications prior to making an application. However, good GCSE grades and A Level grades will look good on any CV. Many credit controllers hold degrees in appropriate subjects, including mathematics and economics. Before applying for a position as a credit controller, make sure that you are comfortable working with figures on a daily basis. It may also be useful for you to hold a full, clean driving licence, since credit controllers often go directly to individuals and companies in order to collect debts or take part in meetings.
The skills required by all credit controllers include:
- Good communication skills
- Good interpersonal skills
- Familiarity with computer systems and complex databases
- Good numeracy skills
- Confidence and the ability to place pressure tactfully on individuals and companies who owe money
- Organisational skills
- Problem solving skills
- A realistic approach to the world of finance
- Empathy for the situations of others who may be unable to make payments on time
- The ability to adhere to strict deadlines
- The ability to work under pressure
- The ability to explain financial issues to others in a simple yet direct manner
- The ability to negotiate
Most credit controllers work in a comfortable office environment but they may be based in a call centre. The vast majority of individuals manage to stick to a 9 to 5 timetable and have weekends and public holidays free. Shift work is a common feature of the job and part-time work may also be available to those who desire it. Travel abroad may be required by those who hold senior positions but most credit controllers are not presented with such opportunities.
Although credit controllers may have to leave the office to visit individuals and companies who owe money, the job is not physically demanding. However, it can be emotionally draining at times. It can be stressful dealing with individuals who have not paid debts on time and it can be hard to strike a successful balance between being sympathetic and insensitive towards these people. Taking risks with finances can also induce anxiety and this is something that credit controllers need to become accustomed to.
No official experience needs to be gained prior to making an application. However, experience in a call centre or working with money will look good on a CV. You could ask a local company for work experience in their finance department or the opportunity to shadow a relevant employee for a few days.
Major employers of credit controllers include:
- Third party collection agencies
- Finance departments in organisations including software companies, universities, and law firms
Many credit controllers are promoted after several years in their position to become credit managers. Individuals who work for collection agencies may decide to join a specific company and work in their finance department. This process works both ways, with individuals working for companies often choosing to apply for positions in specialised collection agencies. Being a credit controller will create familiarity with numbers, providing an ideal foundation for other financial jobs, including positions in accounting.
Also known as…
- Debt Collection Agents
What’s it really like?
Katherine Francis works as a credit controller for Price Runner and has held her current position for just over a year.
Prior to working for Price Runner, Katherine worked as a credit controller for Environ, an environmental assessment company. She worked there for a total of four and a half years before moving on. During a typical day at work, Katherine checks the company’s bank accounts to see whether or not expected payments from both individuals and organisations have been received. If payments have been submitted as expected, she will transfer the money to the appropriate account and inform the company officials of such transactions. She also opens post and responds to any correspondence via letter or over the phone. She reads and replies to e-mails and performs credit checks prior to setting up any new accounts.
Katherine is also responsible for taking credit card payments and chasing up clients who have refused to pay their debts. She keeps employees in the operations and sales departments informed about any cap increases and also advises them about any clients who need action taken against them as a result of continued non-payment. She particularly enjoys the amount of communication she has with other people throughout a typical working day but there are several negative aspects of her job.
These include being made to feel insensitive when action has to be taken against individuals who fail to make payments. She also often feels undermined by other employees at the company who are keen to minimise action taken against certain individuals since it may not suit their particular working ambitions. The job can also be very stressful and Katherine often feels that there are not enough hours in the working day in which to fit in everything that needs to be done.
She believes that individuals who wish to work as credit controllers should try not to take working issues to heart. Credit controllers are often the first point of contact for aggrieved individuals and employees have to become thick-skinned very quickly if they want to be successful. According to Katherine, staying patient is extremely important. It is also vital to enjoy contact with people, since this is a major feature of any working day.
With regards to career progression, Katherine would like to develop her management skills, although this may not necessarily occur within a financial working environment. She is currently studying with the Open University whilst working full-time and striking a balance between these two activities has been hard for her. Although fellow employees at her company have been understanding of her other commitments, meeting academic deadlines whilst meeting work deadlines has been tough for Katherine. However, she is keen to complete her studies and, at some point in the future, she would like to work alongside the UN or the EU with the Office for Democratic Independent Human Rights, specialising in elections and democracy. Alternatively, she would consider becoming a Human Rights Lawyer.