Magazine article Business Credit

Steve Savino: Extending Credit's Role by Breaking Down Barriers

Magazine article Business Credit

Steve Savino: Extending Credit's Role by Breaking Down Barriers

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Steve Savino, corporate credit manager for ASSA ABLOY Americas (INS), is by no means a traditionalist in credit. And, given that his professional beliefs that credit traditions are not the way forward for the industry, he seems to be just fine with that.

"Not everyone agrees with me and some hate it, but tradition is not the future. It's just not," Savino said. "To me, seamless operations is all about solutions. Seamless operations is about redirecting labor into other areas, the right areas"

Savino sees the basis for a winning formula involving the proper use of metrics and shared services. Though words like shared services, automation or outsourcing can be controversial for some in the industry who are worried about credit-related job losses, the argument can be made that the industry is evolving to some extent, like it or not. The key is in the how.

"For things like automating processes and incorporating credit scoring and such, it directly results in us moving people out of non-productive positions into productive risk management positions" Savino said. "There will be more of that. There will be more shared services and more consolidation. It is the wave of the future. Granted, not everyone might need to do things like automate, as that depends on the size of the portfolio or directives given to you, but the days of dialing for dollars are pretty much done"

"It's Not Like I Wanted to Go against the Grain."

Savino's early years in credit were anything but going against the grain. During his 14 years as credit and leasing manager at Gerber Scientific Products, Savino leaned heavily on relationship building (and managing) as a means of getting the job done. That meant spending a lot of time on the phone and, admittedly, golf courses with customers--and the approach was successful. To this day, at least one former Gerber colleague describes Savino as "a revenue machine" and a motivator. "The popular notion in credit was and continues to be building relationships, above all," Savino said. "I'm not putting that down. There will always be a need for that. It's an ingredient."

Near the end of 2004, Savino took a position as finance and credit manager at Stanley Black & Decker, Inc. That's where his traditional credit management style fell by the wayside, and not by choice.

"My Light Bulb, or Knife-in-the-Heart Moment Was When Given an Ultimatum ..."

Moving to Stanley was a bit of a culture shock for Savino, especially when given an ultimatum about where his days sales outstanding (DSO) had to be by one year's end. The numbers didn't add up and the directive could not be met without drastic changes, which came in several forms like taking the phones out of staffers' hands and automating the process or letting a service provider take on tasks not viewed as high in value or productivity.

"Sometimes, when you're faced with change, you can die by sticking to the traditional way," said Savino, who described his experience at Stanley as eye opening. Because policies at Stanley were similar to those of the metric-driven culture of General Electric (some of GE's management had previously worked for Stanley), he had to adjust. Then, when he took a position at Rexel, which had purchased GE's American distribution subsidiary, GE Supply, it only reinforced the focus on metrics. …

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