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Career story: moving into trade finance with CDCS

17 January, 2022Ouida Taaffe

SeungHyun Kang is an Assistant Manager at KB Kookmin Bank. She explains how studying CDCS helped her broaden her knowledge of trade finance and develop the career she wanted.

SeungHyun KangSeungHyun Kang began her finance career on a well-trodden route – she studied economics at university. When she graduated, and started thinking about what she wanted to do, she decided to work in banking.

Despite her economics degree, SeungHyun was not confident that she was well prepared for a career in a bank. So, she took the Certificate in Principles of Payments (CertPAY).

Recognised internationally, CertPAY gives professionals a comprehensive understanding of payments, including the associated regulations, risks, and compliance.

“I thought CertPAY would open doors for my career and it really worked,” says SeungHyun.

“It helped me answer questions in depth in my interview, but it was also useful in the job. Thanks to the knowledge I’d gained from CertPAY, I could progress faster in my role.”

Studying trade finance

Payments is a central function of financial services. It’s also something that everyone has heard of and dealt with in some form.

But SeungHyun had an interest in an important banking service that most people haven’t heard of, even though their life is touched by it every day – trade finance.

Then she saw that her employer, KB Kookmin Bank, was offering the chance to take LIBF’s Certificate for Documentary Credit Specialists (CDCS).

“When I applied for the course, I was a new employee whose experience was mainly in dealing with the savings and deposits of individual customers. Unlike me, most of the people in the class already had a lot of experience in trade finance.”

At first SeungHyun found it was hard to keep up. “But I read a lot and kept asking the teacher questions.”

The most helpful study material was the specimen paper offered by LIBF. “That was what helped me to find out which parts I need to study more.”

Though she was studying to advance her career, SeungHyun also found the CDCS course interesting in itself.

“Before I studied it, I didn’t know what a letter of credit is for. SWIFT messages about ‘LC’ had no meaning for me – it was just a bunch of strange messages written in English.”

SeungHyun says that as soon as she started studying CDCS, though, she began to understand the SWIFT messages – as well as the documents from the negotiating bank which she’d never even noticed before.

“The more I studied, the larger my world became,” she says.

New career opportunities in trade finance

Other people wondered why SeungHyun was putting so much effort into a qualification that had nothing to do with her day job.

“But I strongly believed it would be helpful in the near future,” she says. And she was right. Soon after she completed CDCS, her career opportunities expanded.

“After a couple of months there were personnel changes and I was recommended for a trade finance role by my supervisor,” she says.

Her supervisor, who also holds the CDCS, had strongly encouraged her to broaden her career with practical experience.

“Nowadays I’m busy opening letters of credit for buyers and negotiating for sellers. I love it. I’m developing my career the way I wanted.”

And she wants to continue progressing her career in trade finance.

“I’ll definitely take another LIBF course. I think compliance is getting more important. So, I guess the Certificate in Trade Finance Compliance (CTFC) will be my next step!”

Related content

More about the Certificate for Documentary Credit Specialists (CDCS)

More about the Certificate in Principles of Payment (CertPAY)