Magazine article Business Credit

FCIB's 19th Annual Global Conference

Magazine article Business Credit

FCIB's 19th Annual Global Conference

Article excerpt

Over the past several years, international trade has been the engine of creation for a number of new marketplaces and has helped sustain sputtering first-world economies. Purchasing behemoths like China, India and Brazil continue to solidify into powerful figures on the global stage, while the U.S. has basked in record exports that topped $1.6 trillion in 2007 alone. Latin America has positioned itself as a blossoming trade partner and Asian markets are experiencing a boom from the overflow from China.

But the environment is shifting. The subprime debacle and mortgage messes that began in the United States and Europe quickly spread to becoming a malignancy in every hemisphere. The snapback that would culminate into a credit crisis evolved into an international disaster. The rest of the world's economies held out as long as they could, but they eventually succumbed to the sickness. The euro toppled 20% in a matter of months. The Mexican peso, the Brazilian real and the Colombian and Chilean pesos lost 40% in value in a matter of weeks. Interest rates skyrocketed and gross domestic product (GDP) growth slipped around the world. "Everything is changing very fast," remarked Walter Rebello, international credit manager and finance manager for Latin America, Ravago Americas. "And that is what is very, very scary about what is going on."

Central banks have teamed up in a unified front against the credit crisis. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has launched initiatives to salvage what it can of newborn markets in the international bazaar. And expectations for exports in the year ahead are being tempered. "As I'm sure you all well know, the world economy is facing a huge financial crisis on a global scale that has never really been seen before," said Hermeind Gonzales, CICP, Schooler Company. Gonzales highlighted the great benefits credit conferences provide credit professionals. "I think with all of this, there's a great opportunity to be an actual professional in today's economy, because today we earn our stripes as credit professionals."

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For attendees of FCIB's 19th Annual Global Conference at the Ritz-Carlton in West Palm Beach, FL from November 15-18, the realities were not yet bleak, but there was recognition of the transition on the horizon for the global marketplace. Attracted by educational and networking opportunities, attendees arrived from across the globe. The conference kicked off with keynote speaker Ron Shapiro, attorney, sports agent, author and founder of Shapiro Negotiations Institute, who gave his presentation, "Dare to Prepare: How to Win Before You Begin!" The title is the same as his most recent, best-selling book, in which he dissects advanced preparation techniques and how they can be the foundation for efficient and effective communication. Using a variety of personal accounts and insights from professionals in a number of industries, Shapiro encouraged attendees to adopt preparation techniques to make them more successful in their business endeavors, in developing better business relationships, as well as their own lives.

"Do you have to make demands of people they may not like?" asked Shapiro. "What I learned a long time ago was how scripting can make a difference." Shapiro noted that a lot of mistakes and missteps made in negotiations or in team meetings are the result of a lack of preparation; people not planning what they are going to say before they say it. "Scripting is a useful way to develop a comfort level with what you have to do" explained Shapiro. "I believe in devil's advocacy as well. Get a devil's advocate to examine what you are going to say, to test it out, and make sure that what you're going to say makes sense."

Rebello, a member of the FCIB Advisory Council, highlighted his presentation, "Latin America--Analyzing and Interpreting Financial Statements" with some sobering truths about the financial landscape in those countries. …

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