Belden: Thanks to Portfolio Manager, we are hardly losing any money on dubious debtors

Interview with Wilma Arends – Credit Risk Manager at Belden EMEA

Belden started producing electricity cables in America more than a hundred years ago, after which, it also focused on other applications for broadcast and construction, etc. Over the years, Belden has developed a strong position in the American market. We make HDMI cables, the highest tower in Dubai is equipped with hundreds of kilometres of cable from us and we supplied the cabling for the Olympic Games. At the end of the last century, Belden EMEA opened its doors in Venlo. Portfolio Manager has offered this international player the right platform to do business across borders with the lowest risk. Prospects are checked at an early stage to save time and efficiency.

Belden: Thanks to Portfolio Manager, we are hardly losing any money on dubious debtors

Interview with Wilma Arends – Credit Risk Manager at Belden EMEA

Belden started producing electricity cables in America more than a hundred years ago, after which, it also focused on other applications for broadcast and construction, etc. Over the years, Belden has developed a strong position in the American market. We make HDMI cables, the highest tower in Dubai is equipped with hundreds of kilometres of cable from us and we supplied the cabling for the Olympic Games. At the end of the last century, Belden EMEA opened its doors in Venlo. Portfolio Manager has offered this international player the right platform to do business across borders with the lowest risk. Prospects are checked at an early stage to save time and efficiency.

1. The challenge

Customer management

How is the market defined? Which laws and regulations are in force? Who is your customer? How is it performing? Can he pay? These are all questions to which Wilma Arends, credit risk manager at Belden EMEA and proclaimed credit manager of the year in March 2011, wants a quick answer. Altares Dun & Bradstreet provides accurate international business information that we can rely on to reduce our credit risks.

We are entering many unknown markets with different laws and regulations that we have to comply with. We also need to know which payment terms are customary in which countries, which purchase terms apply and whether there are political issues. In addition, we want to know how creditworthy each (potential) customer is and what the maximum limit is. In order to be able to assess this per (potential) market and customer, we need to have up-to-date and in-depth information quickly. In my department, we manage more than 5,000 customers with five people. It goes without saying that the large(er) customers require the most attention. Speed is of the essence for the small(er) customers up to a certain limit. There must be as little work involved as possible. Since information is the most important asset for my department, we must be able to rely blindly on having correct data at our disposal.

As an international player, we were looking for a strategic partner for the purchase of global business information. Altares Dun & Bradstreet is the market leader and, like us, represented in many countries. As a result, we can turn to a single supplier to obtain reliable information and we do not have to deal with multiple parties to obtain detailed local information.”

2. The solution

DUNS number as a guide

The relationship with Altares Dun & Bradstreet has existed for quite some time. The quality of the information we receive is of high quality and can easily be used by us to assess risks, monitor developments in the customer portfolio and adjust our credit policy accordingly. And what is also quite important is that the more we purchase, the lower the rate is.

On the advice of Altares Dun & Bradstreet, we use Portfolio Manager. This provides insight into for example annual figures and creditworthiness. In addition, we value the assessment of a customer by Altares Dun & Bradstreet. In fact, for the smaller customers, we rely entirely on the expertise of Altares Dun & Bradstreet. We also subject larger customers to a thorough analysis ourselves. Ideally, Altares Dun & Bradstreet should use D-U-N-S-numbers for each individual entity, so that we can assess whether we want to do business with a particular customer prior to a project.”

For credit management, prevention is better than curing. The collaboration with Altares Dun & Bradstreet contributes to this.”

3. The result

Knowing who you’re doing business with

Outsourcing the acquisition of business information saves us a lot of time, money and energy. We don’t have to do it ourselves and we can quickly draw conclusions from it. Of course, it is also sometimes difficult for Altares Dun & Bradstreet to obtain in-depth information from companies in, for example, Kazakhstan, Belarus and the Middle East. But in general, it works very well. During the credit crisis, for example, we saw only a handful of bankruptcies among customers, and those were relatively small accounts as well. Thanks to Portfolio Manager, we are hardly losing any money on dubious debtors.

Support and personal contact

Because we use Portfolio Manager, we always know who we are doing business with. This limits our risk, because incorrect decisions are prevented. What I really appreciate is that Altares Dun & Bradstreet, despite its size and international character, maintains personal contact with us. The Altares Dun & Bradstreet account manager pays us regular visits. I can always contact him if something is going on. He is always willing to think along with us. We want to achieve automated integration of Altares Dun & Bradstreet’s data into our own systems, such as our ERP, so that a complete overview of current affairs and history can be created quickly. Altares Dun & Bradstreet fully supports us in this process of business intelligence’.

What I really appreciate is that Altares Dun & Bradstreet, despite its size and international character, maintains personal contact with us. The account manager of Altares Dun & Bradstreet visits us regularly. I can always contact him if something is going on. He is always willing to think along with us.”

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