Over the last ten years, Esan Olumuyiwa has studied hard to complete eight trade finance qualifications – achieving the Diploma for Qualified Trade Finance Specialists (QTFS) in 2020. He shares his career story and tells us why he will never stop wanting to learn.
In 2009 – following a two-year stint in retail operations – I was redeployed to the International Operations department of the former Diamond Bank Plc, Nigeria.
I began my trade finance journey in the Nostro Monitoring and Reconciliation team.
Here I worked with processors on our then Letter of Credit and Documentary Collections desks. We ensured that trade-related payments and instructions – initiated by the bank – were treated quickly by correspondent banks through our nostro accounts.
Learning about trade finance
I developed a keen interest in letters of credit and decided to develop myself professionally in that area.
This led to me attempting the Certified Documentary Credit Specialist (CDCS) exam in 2011. I was unsuccessful, but this did not dampen my growing passion for trade finance.
My knowledge was in many ways limited to what I learnt from personal research and older colleagues that I met in the role. Over time, I was able to work on other desks –particularly Letters of Credit – and deepen my growing knowledge.
In 2014, I passed the CDCS. My successful attempt gave me the confidence to try other certificates and increased my desire to learn more.
Studying more trade finance qualifications
I acquired the Certificate in International Trade and Finance (CITF) and the Certificate for Specialists in Demand Guarantees (CDSG) in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
With each qualification, I not only discovered my areas of previous ignorance, I developed an ability to think through trade transactions intelligently. That meant I could offer superior solutions to trade-related problems.
This helped me perform better in my job.
As I rose through the ranks, I began to attend joint client calls with relationship managers. However, I realised that I needed additional knowledge. I wanted to offer solutions that enabled corporate customers to:
- manage risks
- secure bespoke financial solutions, and
- manage their working capital positions effectively.
At this point, I only understood trade finance from an operational or back-office perspective.
The business of trade finance
I discovered the Certified Trade Finance Professional course (CTFP), managed by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Academy based in Singapore and accredited by LIBF.
When I successfully completed the course in 2017, my eyes were opened to trade finance from a business perspective.
The knowledge I acquired, particularly from the advanced working capital and supply chain finance courses, armed me with the specialised knowledge that I needed to effectively support the acquisition of trade businesses for the financial institution that I was working for.
By January 2021, I had an additional four certificates from:
Still, my desire to learn remains high.
Trade finance in Africa
This may be because I live in Africa, where we have unique problems that constantly demand creativity to surmount, such as:
- the constant requirement for confirmation on our outgoing import letters of credit
- the lack of negotiating power to demand the same for inward export letters of credit
- limited credit lines with correspondent banks
- the ever-increasing lack of foreign exchange for settlement of trade obligations, and the inability of businesses – particularly SMEs – to secure finance.
These challenges will continue to ensure that superior trade product innovation and creative, solution-oriented thinking is treasured in the Nigerian – as well as all the African – banking and financial sectors.
Personally, my hope is to continue to be of value to existing and prospective trade customers in Nigeria and Africa at large.
Find out more about the Diploma for Qualified Trade Finance Specialists
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