Career story: studying trade finance to succeed in challenging times

04 July, 2022Ouida Taaffe
christoph buchmann

Trade credit and trade finance underpin global trade. Christoph Buchmann, Head of International Trade Credit Business at SÜDVERS explains why he took the CITF and CTFC qualifications and why they have been particularly useful in a time of global crises.

Most young graduates, when they are thinking about a career, don’t think about trade finance. What, after all, is trade finance?

It’s a vital part of corporate finance, with deep roots in every economy, but not something that many people know much about.

Why learn about trade finance?

Trade finance does what it says on the tin: it helps finance exports and imports. But, inside that tin, there are many different ways of reducing the financial risk of trade.

And, when people discover just how important trade finance is to the real economy, they often want to find out more.

That was the experience of Christoph Buchmann, Head of International Trade Credit Business at SÜDVERS.

Buchmann originally studied law at the University of Greifswald. After his degree in 2004 he went straight to Coface, one of the three global credit insurers, in Germany.

At Coface he had his first taste of trade credit insurance, of surety bonds & guarantees, of factoring and of dealing with credit information. And he found it fascinating.

After Coface, he joined SÜDVERS, a German corporate insurance broker, and rose to be Head of International Trade Credit Business.

Buchmann knew that he had found a “passion” for helping corporates active in trade to develop optimal corporate credit management and working capital strategies.

“But I also wanted to broaden my professional perspective,” says Buchmann. “So, in 2015, I took LIBF’s Certificate in International Trade Finance (CITF).”

In 2017, he added the Certificate in Trade Finance Compliance (CTFC).

Why study CITF and CTFC?

Buchmann already had a demanding career and a great deal of expert knowledge. Why take on extra study?

“These certificates are recognised all over the world,” says Buchmann.

“There are quite a few international trade credit insurance brokers, but not many with a recognised ability to offer a one-stop-consultation in trade credit, trade finance and trade finance compliance.”

He says the CTFC allowed him to take a “deep dive” into the compliance issues around trade finance that really helped him support his international corporate customers.

But what does it take to develop that additional knowledge and skill alongside an existing career? Buchmann got particularly good results in his exams.

How to manage part-time study

“I had to put in some extra hours after work, on the weekends and holidays, to do the studying,” says Buchmann.

“What helped make it manageable was the online study courses and the textbooks that went with them. The flexibility on when and where to study as well, as the practical relevance, was essential.”

The hardest part? “That was preparing for the final exams.”

Buchmann finds that he used his time well. His clients have gone through three major crises in a decade – the trade war between the USA and China, the Covid lockdown, and now the war in Ukraine. They need expert support in keeping their supply chains going.

What is Buchmann focused on going forward?

“I’m concentrating on getting my clients ready for the uncertain economic times ahead,” he says.

“There is going to be an increase in global corporate insolvencies. At the moment, stress-testing existing credit management systems and maintaining liquidity is vital.”

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