Career story: progressing in your trade finance career

02 May, 2023Ouida Taaffe
Meydia Meydia

Meydia Meydia has completed five of our trade and transaction banking qualifications. She spoke to us about why she chose to do them and what they have meant for her and her career.

How did you get into banking?

I studied accounting at undergraduate level and then did a postgraduate course in management and finance. Before going into banking, I was a management trainee at a pharmaceutical company in Indonesia. They called me on the day I graduated and offered me the role.

I really enjoyed travelling from one city to another to teach a new program for the pharmaceutical company. At the time, it was just nice to be about to travel around and see other places and other colleagues.

Standard Chartered had interviewed for a role as a management trainee in trade finance but didn’t pick me, though they said they would keep my C.V. on file. I was enjoying my job at the pharmaceutical company, so I didn’t think about it very much. Then, one day, Standard Chartered called me and said there was another management trainee role in trade finance, a junior one, and asked if I would like it.

What made you decide to take the Certificate for Documentary Credit Specialists (CDCS) exam?

I’d been in trade finance for six years without ever thinking of taking more exams when a friend said he wanted to get some certificates in trade finance. I asked him why. After all, it’s extra work on top of an already busy job. He told me it was important for anyone working in trade finance to have recognised qualifications. So, I started looking into the exams because of him.

I asked my line manager which certificate I should take and the first one I did was the CDCS.

Why did you continue studying for other courses?

After I passed the CDCS, I was told that you either have to renew the CDCS certification after three years, collect continuing professional development (CPD) points, or take a further qualification. So, I took the Certificate in Supply Chain Finance (CITF). Shortly after that, I moved to HSBC where I’d been offered the opportunity to work on demand guarantees. When I joined, HSBC suggested that I take the Certificate for Specialists in Demand Guarantees (CSDG), which I did as it was so related to my daily work.

Some time after that, a colleague mentioned he wanted to take the Certificate in Trade Finance Compliance (CTFC). In trade finance you’re not just thinking about ‘have we organised the transaction?’. You’re thinking about preventing money laundering and fraud, dealing with sanctions – all the issues around compliance. So, it made a lot of sense to do the CTFC.

Did you have to take the exams?

Actually, no. The bank is great. If you don’t want to take a particular course, they will just offer it to another employee. And you are allowed two tries at passing the exam. If you need a third go, you have to pay for it yourself. But the bank is fantastically supportive of employee careers and employee knowledge.

Did any one aspect of your studies stand out as being really helpful?

Getting to know other people, making friends with people in the bank and in other banks was really helpful. It means that when you need to sort out something you can pick up the phone and call them. There still needs to be a formal SWIFT message, but it’s essentially already organised.

What advice would you give to other people taking these exams?

Many people say the exams are quite difficult. For one thing, they are in English. I would say that it’s particularly important to really read and understand the textbooks. That’s the secret to passing the exams.

What I found was that, when you are working and come up against something unfamiliar, you can use the textbook to help you. That means you can apply what you’re learning, which is really helpful.

One of the things that was great about studying face to face was the input from other people in the class and the chance to ask questions. There is also a good schedule for studying for the exams in Indonesia. It’s not just that you get the study materials, it’s organised so that you can combine theory and practice.

Are you going to take any more trade finance qualifications?

I would like to, but there is a limit on the number that the bank will support. I’ve already done CDCS, CITF, CSDG, CTFC and CSCF. All of them were interesting, but the one that I remember most is the CDCS, the first one, which I took when I was still a fact checker.

I didn’t actually take the exams for the promotions – though I’ve been promoted several times. I like to learn, to boost my ability and my knowledge. It gives me a better work-life balance to study alongside my daily work – even though the courses are related to my career.

Would you recommend a career in trade finance to others?

Digitalisation is coming to trade finance, and I would advise young people to learn as much as possible about that. But thinking about the impact that fintech could have on conventional trade finance products and how fintech and banks can work together is fun. I expect to see a joint fintech/bank platform for trade finance in which fintechs and the bank are partners.

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Find out more about our trade and transaction banking qualifications