Country Risk 200When considering expanding into the international market, it is essential for credit professionals to have a clear understanding of the values and cultures of a country’s business environment. That was a key takeaway during the breakout session, “Going Global,” at NACM’s 119th annual Credit Congress in St. Louis from May 17-20.

“It’s culture, communication, regulation and currency,” said Gent Culver, ICCE, credit manager for International Game Technology. “It’s very important that you understand how they do business within that country. They all do things differently. … It’s the key to being successful and expanding globally.”   Joe McNamara, CCE, CICP, vice president of credit and political risk for Equinox Global Inc, and Lisa Spano, vice president of JPMorgan Chase & Co. joined Culver on the expert panel.

Common phrases in the United States may be taken negatively in other countries, and credit professionals need to be aware of these differences. “It’s important to have someone on the inside—simple things can mean something totally different,” said McNamara, adding it is necessary to stay cognizant of the varying time zones as well.

Credit professionals who interact globally also need to keep abreast of current events facing the countries they do business with—whether the issues are social, economic or political. “I always stress to read as many articles as you can,” Culver said. “You really want to keep up with what’s going on in the world.”

When it comes to getting paid, the panel agreed that developing a relationship with a bank specifically within a country is a huge asset for the credit manager. “Banks are there to help support clients as they grow,” Spano said. “How you collect your receipts or how you use your letter of credit … it’s very important that you have a partner when you go into these financial markets.