Career story: my trade finance career journey

01 April, 2021Esan Olumuyiwa

Over the last ten years, Esan Olumuyiwa has studied hard to complete eight trade finance qualifications – achieving the Diploma for Qualified Trade Finance Specialists (QTFS) in 2020. He shares his career story and tells us why he will never stop wanting to learn.

Esan OlumuyiwaIn 2009 – following a two-year stint in retail operations – I was redeployed to the International Operations department of the former Diamond Bank Plc, Nigeria.

I began my trade finance journey in the Nostro Monitoring and Reconciliation team.

Here I worked with processors on our then Letter of Credit and Documentary Collections desks. We ensured that trade-related payments and instructions – initiated by the bank – were treated quickly by correspondent banks through our nostro accounts.

Learning about trade finance

I developed a keen interest in letters of credit and decided to develop myself professionally in that area.

This led to me attempting the Certified Documentary Credit Specialist (CDCS) exam in 2011. I was unsuccessful, but this did not dampen my growing passion for trade finance.

My knowledge was in many ways limited to what I learnt from personal research and older colleagues that I met in the role. Over time, I was able to work on other desks –particularly Letters of Credit – and deepen my growing knowledge.

In 2014, I passed the CDCS. My successful attempt gave me the confidence to try other certificates and increased my desire to learn more.

Studying more trade finance qualifications

I acquired the Certificate in International Trade and Finance (CITF) and the Certificate for Specialists in Demand Guarantees (CDSG) in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

With each qualification, I not only discovered my areas of previous ignorance, I developed an ability to think through trade transactions intelligently. That meant I could offer superior solutions to trade-related problems.

This helped me perform better in my job.

As I rose through the ranks, I began to attend joint client calls with relationship managers. However, I realised that I needed additional knowledge. I wanted to offer solutions that enabled corporate customers to:

  • manage risks
  • secure bespoke financial solutions, and
  • manage their working capital positions effectively.

At this point, I only understood trade finance from an operational or back-office perspective.

The business of trade finance

I discovered the Certified Trade Finance Professional course (CTFP), managed by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Academy based in Singapore and accredited by LIBF.

When I successfully completed the course in 2017, my eyes were opened to trade finance from a business perspective.

The knowledge I acquired, particularly from the advanced working capital and supply chain finance courses, armed me with the specialised knowledge that I needed to effectively support the acquisition of trade businesses for the financial institution that I was working for.

By January 2021, I had an additional four certificates from:

Still, my desire to learn remains high.

Trade finance in Africa

This may be because I live in Africa, where we have unique problems that constantly demand creativity to surmount, such as:

  • the constant requirement for confirmation on our outgoing import letters of credit
  • the lack of negotiating power to demand the same for inward export letters of credit
  • limited credit lines with correspondent banks
  • the ever-increasing lack of foreign exchange for settlement of trade obligations, and the inability of businesses – particularly SMEs – to secure finance.

These challenges will continue to ensure that superior trade product innovation and creative, solution-oriented thinking is treasured in the Nigerian – as well as all the African – banking and financial sectors.

Personally, my hope is to continue to be of value to existing and prospective trade customers in Nigeria and Africa at large.

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