Charlie Osborne had never worked in banking and finance. But through his work in the events and professional services industry, he developed an interest in trade finance. He tells us about studying our Certificate in International Trade and Finance (CITF) in lockdown and how it’s helped him progress his career.
I was working on the outskirts of trade finance. I had no actual finance or trading background. I’d never worked for a fund, or a trader, or anything like that. My background was in what TXF, the company I work for, do. That is, a mixture of events, data, intelligence – services to the TF industry.
Through speaking to clients, I got a good grasp of the trends and the topics in trade finance. But you tend not to discuss or learn the intricacies of financing techniques or different products. In that sense I was a complete layman.
But through my discussions with my clients (some that became more like friends) I was picking up more and more. It got to a stage where I was very interested in talking to people about the market, so I wondered whether I should do something about it.
What was it like to study CITF in lockdown?
After university, I had vowed never to study again. Then with the pandemic, there was more time. I was suddenly in an industry that I really enjoy and love. So I thought maybe now’s the time to take a course.
Initially it was easy because I was on furlough and had nothing to do but to stay indoors. I requested furlough for a second month because I’d just started CITF. It got a lot harder when I went back to work.
As for the course itself, I could talk for hours about the trends in the market. I find it so interesting, I’m a bit of a nerd about it.
But the fundamentals and intricacies of trade finance are so complicated and I am not afraid to say I found it quite challenging – especially as I have never worked in the industry.
A lot of clients know I’ve done this and have supported me along the way, which is really nice. I think because they’ve seen me work hard at it, there’s a level of respect. My employers TXF were also massively supportive throughout this journey.
How is CITF helping your career progression?
I’ve been at TXF four years now, starting in sales however my role has changed recently, with me moving into heading up the commodities team. The CITF qualification has massively helped with this transition.
It’s a strategy role. Among many other things, managing large accounts, heading up business development and bringing in new clients – as well as leading the content side and moderating panels.
I’ve always been good with trends and talking to clients. That’s not a problem. But now I’ve done CITF, I can talk to them about their actual work and speak the same language when talking to clients and moderating panels.
Do you plan to do more trade finance qualifications?
I would never rule out more studying though for now I’m looking to take a break from it. It would be more likely if I ever went to move into the industry, though with my new role at TXF that is not something I am considering right now.
My interest in the industry started with non-bank financing and became something of a niche for me. So if I was to move into trade finance it would most likely be at a fund. But no rush!
And if that’s the case, I’d certainly do another qualification. CITF has been a fantastic start!
If you’re thinking about studying CITF and would like to ask Charlie more about his experience, you can contact him through his LinkedIn profile.
More about the Certificate in International Trade and Finance (CITF)