Logistics: Professor teaches how to spot a defaulter before losing out: Credit management on the curriculum could reduce risk, writes Paul Gosling

BUSINESS EDUCATION is a step nearer the reality of the management world after the appointment this month of the first professor of credit management at the University of Bradford Management Centre.

Dr Nicholas Wilson was named to the new position by the Institute of Credit Management, which had co-operated in the selection with several top companies involved in assessing trade credit risk, such as Dun & Bradstreet, Trade Indemnity and Infolink.

Dennis Jones, educational adviser to the ICM, said the appointment reflected the belief that businesses too often failed to see the importance of credit management.

'We want to raise the profile of credit management, and to establish it as a reputable academic discipline,' he said.

'As an institute, we are taking a positive role in the development of the profession. We want credit management to get a higher profile as a management activity, which has never had the place in the sun it has deserved.'

Dr Wilson has a busy first year ahead of him, with many activities planned.

'I'm employed to develop research in credit management, looking at credit risk and credit management, and to establish it as a core discipline on business management and MBA degrees,' he said.

Much of Dr Wilson's initial work involves investigating methods by which creditors can identify warning signs in corporate and individual debtors. One aspect entails examining the statistical models that have been developed to detect companies in distress and failure.

A further element will be to consider 'neural networks', a new modelling technique for credit risk and credit scoring. The principle is to examine factors that can be used to determine the likelihoodof individuals or corporations proving to be bad debtors, and work out the probability of default.

Other research will consider the use of trade credit - how and why it is used, when it is extended and how it is used for competitive advantage. A further project, financed by Bradford Tec, will examine how small companies use their working capital, and how it affects their survival.

The research will be used to fuel an increased emphasis on credit management in business courses at Bradford University. There will also be a range of new short courses, developed for ICM members.

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