Jobs in finance: Careers in trade finance

13 February, 2020Trade Finance Team

If you’re interested in the global economy and in international commerce, trade finance could provide you with fantastic opportunities to develop your financial services career.

Skyscrapers towering up into the skyTrade finance is a growing and constantly evolving sector offering a range of interesting roles with the potential for a rewarding and satisfying future.

About 80% to 90% of global trade relies on trade finance, according to figures from the World Trade Organization.

What is trade finance?

Buyers and sellers – importers and exporters – don't always know each other and may not feel confident trading without a guarantee of payment, or knowledge that they will receive the correct goods.

In many cases, an exporter may also need financing to fill the gap between providing goods or services and receiving payment.

In short, trade finance is a set of solutions aimed at reducing the main risks in international trade – non-payment, political instability, currency fluctuations.

Trade finance is also a source of funding, and bridges the gap between the delivery of goods and the actual payment.

Where does a trade finance professional work?

As a qualified trade finance professional, you can work anywhere in the world.

You could work in the trade finance department of a bank, or in a company that imports and exports goods or services.

Banks that provide trade finance services act as intermediaries between buyers and sellers.

What does a trade finance professional do?

There are various roles in trade finance which require in-depth knowledge.

Operations staff are the people who make things happen! They review letters of credit and guarantees, speak with customers, ensure that payments are made on time.

They escalate any suspicious transactions, so they really are the first line of defence against financial crime.

Sales managers meet the clients, talk about their markets and the issues clients face and offer solutions.

Product managers really know the market, the trends and the trade finance products, define the strategy and develop new exciting solutions.

Why does trade finance matter?

Trade finance facilitates international trade. It’s vital for ensuring the delivery of goods and services between the parties involved in international trade.

It reduces the risks involved with importing and exporting and therefore makes a real impact on the economy – particularly that of emerging markets.

How do you become a trade finance professional?

Many employers offer in-house trade finance training to staff.

But you will improve your career progression by developing your skills and knowledge by getting professionally qualified.

Is there a trade finance qualification?

Yes, there are a few that cover different areas of interest.

If you want to improve your technical skills in documentary credits and guarantees you should consider:

If you’re more interested in a client-facing front-office role, then look at:

How long does it take to qualify?

It typically takes six months to complete a qualification, but you don’t need to take time out of your career to study.

By studying online you can fit your learning around work and other commitments.

Related content

Find out more about our trade finance qualifications