Lu Wei, Operations Manager at China Construction Bank, explains what attracted her to a career in trade finance, what she has gained from taking CDCS and CITF and what she plans to do next.
When Lu Wei was deciding what to study at university, she thought hard about what would enable her to build a good career. Her first degree at Hunan University was in statistics and then she took a Masters in Finance and Investment at Bristol University in the UK. But she hadn’t really considered trade finance.
Then, in her third year at Hunan, she did an internship at Shanghai Yongzhiheng International Trade Co – a regulatory shipping agency, in Shanghai.
“I was doing lots of regulatory work, such as dealing with China Customs and I saw a lot of companies in international trade finance. I was struck by the atmosphere there and I found it fascinating. You could see the world is changing.”
The Port of Shanghai is the largest in the world by cargo tonnage. It’s both a deep sea and river port. The Shanghai Free Trade Zone is the gateway to China for many foreign companies and a bridgehead for China to export to the rest of the world.
“I could see so many different companies registering their trades, so many big ships carrying lots of containers. They were very beautiful.”
Starting a career in trade finance
When she started working for China Construction Bank after her masters, her family encouraged her to become a financial analyst. But Lu Wei had other ideas.
“I thought trade finance was much more interesting. It was fascinating and I dived straight in,” she says. “Trade finance is like a language you can use to communicate with others round the world.”
Lu Wei says that her managers also work hard to develop their staff and encourage them to get trade finance certificates.
Experts in the trade finance team are always willing to help less experienced people and, each year, many of her colleagues register for the LIBF trade finance exams. The bank pays the fees of those who pass.
Studying CDCS and CITF
“I would really recommend that newcomers take the exams,” says Lu Wei.
“Learning and preparing for courses and exams can significantly raise and broaden your international vision. You get access to cutting edge information in trade finance.”
Lu Wei passed the Certificate for Documentary Credit Specialists (CDCS) in 2015 and the Certificate in International Trade and Finance (CITF) in 2017.
She particularly valued being able to demonstrate not just her learning ability but also her experience. “It really helped me complete the transition from student to full member of staff.”
Additionally, at China Construction Bank, the exams are complementary to the firm’s internal training.
“Like banks everywhere, Chinese banks have their own processes,” says Lu Wei.
“Because the trade finance course books are written in English, they have case studies from the US, the EU, South East Asia, all around the world. Studying those helps Chinese banks broaden their way of thinking in subtle ways. It really adds to the existing training programmes.”
“It was very manageable. Most of the content is relevant to my work, so it was like recharging.”
However, she put aside her weekends so that she could focus on study in the run-up to the exams.
Asked what she plans to do next, she says she sees supply chain finance as an area of growing customer need.
“I’m planning to register for the CSCF next year,” she says with a smile.
More about CDCS
More about CITF