How to be a good Credit Controller - 7 tips for success

By Robert Half on 5 October 2023

7 tips for how to be a good Credit Controller in Singapore 

  1. Communication
  2. Empathy
  3. Negotiation
  4. Organisation
  5. Attention to detail
  6. Financial knowledge
  7. Persistence
Estimated Read Time: 4 minutes

It’s no secret that effective cash flow management is crucial for every business – which is why the role of Credit Controller is so important.

While on the surface it may seem a simple matter of chasing debt, credit controllers must possess a range of skills on top of their technical abilities if they are to succeed.

The role of the Credit Controller is varied, with typical daily tasks and responsibilities including conducting credit checks on new customers, resolving problems with outstanding invoices, monitoring debtor balances and reconciling monthly accounts.

In recent years as the pandemic has impacted bottom lines due to increased costs and interrupted supplies, keeping cash flowing through the business in a timely manner become essential to survival. This has led to a noticeable spike in demand for good-quality credit controllers in Singapore and beyond.

Serene Tan, finance and accounting division director at Robert Half Singapore starts by identifying some sought-after soft skills in successful credit controllers.

"Successful credit management often requires collaboration with other departments, including Sales. Therefore, your ability to establish and maintain strong teamwork will be a key factor in your success. Additionally, being well-versed in industry-specific intricacies and credit policies will assist you in seamlessly adapting to the role and effectively performing your responsibilities."

Serene is a seasoned recruiter with more than 13 years of recruitment experience across the commerce industry. Her key strengths lay in the Industrial Automation, Power/Utilities/Energy/Renewable Energy, Petrochemical, Oil & Gas, Manufacturing and High Technology sectors in Singapore.

So, if you’re interested in pursuing this career path, or are new to the role and want to accelerate your success, read on to learn our top tips on how to be a good Credit Controller.

1. Communication

While most roles require effective communication as a given, for credit controllers, it can be the difference between a fast and amicable resolution and an ongoing nightmare.

Money is a sensitive subject to talk about, so it is vital that you have the ability to communicate with clients in a way that makes them feel comfortable.

Speak succinctly and clearly about the details of the debt, then listen attentively to uncover what the issue is.

Match your tone with theirs, maintaining a friendly yet professional manner, whether you are speaking face to face, over the phone or via written communication.

Related: Why is communication important in accounting?

2. Empathy

Being able to see the perspective of others and showing empathy to their situation will serve you well as a Credit Controller.

The truth is, that most debts you are chasing will involve people who do want to do the right thing and pay on time, but for one reason or another, are unable to when the invoice is due.

Approaching it from the perspective of identifying the issue and working together to find a mutually beneficial solution will help to alleviate any awkward or ill feelings, and provide added motivation for the client to agree to terms and stick to the arrangement.

3. Negotiation

Of course, negotiation is bound to feature in any article on how to be a good Credit Controller in Singapore.

There will be countless situations that require you to quickly assess the situation and be prepared to make an offer, and a counteroffer (or two), to come to agreeable terms with a debtor.

It’s a good idea to follow a set strategy for negotiations, for example, start with a reminder that requests full payment, then depending on their response and capacity to pay, you can negotiate from there.

If you feel they have the capacity to pay, but need extra time, you may offer a payment extension or payment plan. If not, you will likely need to be more flexible in your negotiations to ensure a satisfactory outcome is reached.

4. Organisation

Keeping track of cash flow and on top of outstanding debt as it arises requires excellent organisation skills.

You’ll need a system that alerts you to overdue amounts as they occur, and a have a well-oiled process that allows you to effectively handle debts from the moment they are overdue until payment is received.

This will likely include an initial reminder being sent after a set number of days, followed-up by a second reminder and/or allocating the account to a stop list.

Being organised and efficient with each step of the debt recovery process is a must for success.

5. Attention to detail

Paying close attention to the details of terms, amount of credit given, payment histories and other key indicators will help you identify and act on issues before they become a big problem.

For example, if a client has been purchasing higher levels of stock, and you notice their payments have not been on time, you may flag the account or take other action to ensure the amount owing does not blow out to unmanageable levels.

6. Financial knowledge

When it comes to being a successful Credit Controller in Singapore, a sound financial knowledge lays the foundation.

Being confident with numbers and staying up to date with financial news and trends will help you track and manage cash flow and debt effectively.

You’ll also need a solid understanding of the accounting software used within the business, and be capable of entering financial information, extracting reports and reconciling payments.

These skills will ideally be gained through a degree qualification in a relevant field alongside practical experience in a relatable role.

7. Persistence

For credit controllers, persistence is key.

While some outstanding debts will be paid after a simple reminder, the majority will require ongoing communication, follow-up and negotiation to be resolved.

Be patient and persistent in your dealings with debtors, and adopt a firm yet flexible mindset. When you can do this, a positive outcome is likely.

Get in touch with us on +65 3158 0978 for advice and guidance on securing your ideal role as a Credit Controller in Singapore.

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