Career story: studying trade finance in lockdown

25 February, 2021Juno Baker

Sneha Gupta has been working in trade with Citibank for over 12 years – all her professional life. She tells us why she loves working in trade finance, about studying and passing exams in lockdown, and shares her tips for successfully completing the Certificate in Supply Chain Finance (CSCF).

What’s the best thing about working in trade finance?  

Sneha GuptaThere is so much new to learn. I’m still learning new things about different trade solutions every day.

I also appreciate the impact trade finance has on our world. Look at the global supply chain of vaccines and PPE for example.

As finance providers, we play a key role in optimising credit flows for the exporter and the importer. This allows our clients to focus on manufacturing and distribution – making the supply chain robust and agile.

That kind of impact makes me love what I do for a living!

Tell us about your trade finance career

I recently moved from Commodities Trade Finance to the Trade Client Management (Industrials) team. I manage client relationships and provide advisory services. I’m responsible for trade origination and incremental revenues for the bank.

I have had a long association of nearly ten years with LIBF – completing CDCSCITF and CSCF, which have helped me grow and evolve as a trade professional.

In 2020, I signed up for the Certificate in Supply Chain Finance (CSCF) to increase my understanding of receivables and payables financing.

How did you fit study around work and life – especially while working remotely? 

This was especially difficult during 2020 due to the lockdowns. Working from home has blurred the lines between office and home life for most of us.

Additionally, I was studying on my own instead of with classmates which led to a bit of procrastination at times.

It’s important to build a work-back plan from the exam date and set clear milestones for yourself. Remember the goal, why you’re working towards it, and keep a realistic yet flexible study timetable.

Take a break! Do something relaxing and then pick up the book to study for one or two hours – depending on how you feel that day.

Due to all the unpredictability, I tried to keep my daily schedule flexible but ensured that I stuck with my weekly study plans to stay on track.

Any tips on how to successfully complete CSCF?   

Use the study material provided by LIBF. I found this very structured, comprehensive and easy to understand. I also used self-study resources available through LIBF including:

  • industry resources
  • questions at the end of each chapter
  • mock exams, and
  • case studies.

Try to connect with others taking the test at the same time as you. I found other candidates on an LIBF forum. We formed a study group to stay connected and help each other out with questions and queries.

What was it like taking your exam remotely?

The exam was completely online, with an invigilator available for assistance throughout. The process was just as easy and robust.

I got the results within an hour and a physical certificate arrived a month later.

Does your new learning help with your role?

I use the knowledge gained through these qualifications in my job regularly.

The course materials are also very handy. And the free membership to ICC publications for a year allows me to look at case studies related to trade to keep learning.

I’ve attended some of the trade-related seminars and conferences to collect my CPD hours for re-certification. That’s helped me build networks and hear from industry experts on relevant topics.

What might you do next?

Managing key client relationships, it is critical for me to have sound knowledge of all the trade products and to adjudge which solution would best suit my clients’ requirements. I plan to keep upgrading my knowledge of different trade solutions and extend it in my workplace.

And I’m already eyeing the CSDG and CertPAY qualifications to get the QTFS Diploma!

Related content

Find out more about the Certificate in Supply Chain Finance (CSCF)

See all our Trade Finance and Transaction Banking qualifications