familiar faces in the industry, said it will take the unusual step of sharing trade secrets with clients, for a price. John Y. Coffman and Barbara Thornton, principals of Atlanta-based Credit Strategy Management, have worked together in the close-knit credit scoring industry for a number of years. Mr. Coffman co-founded MDS in 1976, the second-largest scoring company in the country. MDS, based in Atlanta, was sold to Britain-based CCN in 1990. The biggest firm by far is Fair, Isaac & Co., San Rafel, Calif., which dominates the market. "Our niche is to use our expertise and experience (in scoring) to try to set a new direction for the credit industry," Ms. Thornton said. Credit Strategy Management said it will offer services such as consulting and training so that clients can build their own scoring models - a route it said has not been offered to creditors before. "Our strategic plan is high-level consulting to build models (for clients) with a rational plan," Mr. Coffman said. "It will cost them more to get the plan, but will save wasted resources in the long run." During his tenure at MDS "we developed a lot of innovative products," said Mr. Coffman, detailed credit bureau models for clients, generic models for credit bureaus, and consumer profiling systems using credit bureau data. The partners, who have 10 employees, say they can once again set the pace for change in the industry. To meet new needs of clients trying to market credit cards and other products to consumers, the firm provides advanced consulting services, in-house training, custom modeling, and software licensing. "Because of the evolution of credit scoring," said Richard Miles, manager of credit policy and scoring at Mobil Oil Credit Corp., marketing in-house training capabilities "is a product whose time has come." Mr. Miles, a Credit Strategy Management client, which was officially opened for business in North America in August of 1994, said the new service "represents a dramatic savings in modeling costs." By licensing software from Credit Strategy Management, Mr. Miles, said he can build models for Mobil that can be updated yearly or as often as needed. While this sounds like it would eliminate the need for professional model builders, Mr. Miles said that to the contrary, it has freed up his credit scoring budget, enabling him to hire outside help for more complex and advanced models. Larry Boris, director of credit support systems for Household International, Prospect Heights, Ill., said his bank hired the team for their expertise in modeling. The idea of helping companies build their own models is innovative, but "I think vendors are preparing to launch in that area."
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