Finance is a key part of the world’s progress. It is what guarantees the growth or stunting of a country’s economy. It plays a major role in our day-to-day living as humans. The world of finance is diverse, with many areas requiring professionals and specialists to maximize the scarce resources available while putting in place measures to secure financial security for the future.
One of the specialists required is a Trade Finance Specialist. In this article, we will find out what Trade Finance means, who a Trade Finance Specialist is, and more information relating to Trade Financing. Let’s get to it.
What is Trade Finance?
According to Investopedia, trade finance represents the financial instruments and products that are used by companies to facilitate international trade and commerce. In other words, it is a tool that makes buying and selling, which is what the world is involved in, easier and safer for both the buyer and the seller. It is also a tool that ensures that trade continues even when the cash for payments is not readily available.
Who is a Trade Finance Specialist?
A Trade Finance Specialist is someone who is an expert in the field of trade financing. This simply means that he understands the various financial instruments used in the market, understands the process flow of his client’s business, and is able to recommend the right instrument to his client to foster international trade.
Importance of Trade Financing
The essence of trade financing is to boost international trade, which in turn boosts the economy of a country. Micro-, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) contribute greatly to the economy of every country. They employ about 60-70% of the employed labour force and contribute about 50% to the world’s GDP. These businesses need to stay afloat in order for the country to have a stable economy. Hence, a need for Trade Financing. It is also the reason why trade financing requires experts called Trade Finance Specialists.
How Does Trade Financing Work?
Trade Financing, as established earlier, is a tool for promoting international trade and boosting the economy of a country. So, let us look at how it works.
For every trade to be successful, there has to be a buyer and a seller. The seller produces or buys from another place and sells to the buyer. The buyer pays the seller and the trade is completed. This can be seen from our day-to-day living and the trade is much simpler at a small scale.
However, when it involves importing and exporting, which is primarily where trade financing is needed, the game becomes more complicated. This is because both parties are not in the same space and the risk of loss is quite high. The seller could sell inferior goods or nothing at all, thereby taking the buyer’s money. The buyer, on the other hand, can refuse to pay or pay less than the goods are worth. So, both sides are at risk of loss. This is where trade finance comes in.
Trade finance acts as the middleman between the buyer and the seller. It states the rules that the trade will abide by. It eliminates or minimizes the risk to the barest minimum. Hence, facilitating a smooth trade and boosting the economy of a country.
For example, Capital inc. produces steel sheets for roofing and Stephen & Sons imports it to resell in Nigeria. They can involve the Bank, Trade financing companies, etc. to act as the middlemen. Using instruments like Letters of Credit, Capital inc. is assured that they will get their money when they supply the steel sheets to Stephen & Sons. Stephen & Sons is also assured that he will get the worth of what he paid for as Capital inc. will not get their money unless the terms stipulated in the Letters of Credit are met.
Who are Those Involved in Trade Financing?
The following are the various parties involved in Trade Finance:
Importers and Exporters
Trade Finance Companies
Export Credit Agencies and Service Providers
Each party member plays a role in the trade. The Bank acts as the guaranteeing line for payment and to shield unforeseen events that may cause the exporter not to be paid. Insurers ensure that the goods leave the exporter and reach the importer in one piece. They also take care of any damage that may have occurred in transit. Importers and Exporters are the champions of the trade. Trade financing companies perform their role as their name implies. All parties come together to make the trade, international trade, a success.
Having understood what Trade Financing is all about, let’s now look at the key roles of a Trade Finance Specialist.
Trade Finance Specialist Job Description
The job description of a trade finance specialist differs across organizations and at different levels. The job description written here is not all there is to work as a Trade Finance Specialist. Some of the job descriptions are:
Execute trade finance transactions globally in collaboration with branches and the Head of Trade Finance.
Structure and negotiate deals
Develop annual business plans, and translate them into results
Promote product programs like African Retail Banking, establish market presence, and manage portfolios
Build connections with international banks, African institutions, and trade intermediaries
Support Sales teams with advisory services, deal structuring, and implementation.
Qualifications Required for the Trade Finance Specialist Role
To excel as a Trade Finance Specialist, candidates should possess a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Banking, Finance, Accounting, International Business, Economics, or related disciplines. Having additional qualifications like Trade Certifications such as CITF, CDCS, or CSDG is highly advantageous. Demonstrated expertise in international trade and export operations with a comprehensive grasp of global trade regulations, customs processes, and documentation prerequisites are essential attributes for success in this role.
Skills Required for the Trade Finance Specialist Role
Necessary Technical and Behavioural Competencies
Strong grasp of Import and Export trade practices
Thorough knowledge of remittance procedures
Experience in managing letters of credit, documentary credit, and bank guarantees
Skilled in document examination and credit initiation
Excellent English communication skills
Meticulous attention to detail with independent work capabilities
Familiarity with ICC rules and Incoterms
Exposure to Regulatory reporting in Trade Finance
Proven team management and project leadership skills
Familiarity with the Banking system is a plus.
Tools Used in Trade Financing
This includes various financial instruments like
Letters of credit (LCs),
Purchase order financing,
Structured commodity financing,
Invoice financing (discounting and factoring),
Lending lines of credit
Software for a Trade Finance Specialist Efficiency
Trade finance software facilitates efficient management and optimisation of trade finance operations. It encompasses tools for compliance, import/export process automation, tracking, trade credit automation, and embedded trade credit, among others.
This software is tailored to enhance the effectiveness of organisations’ trade finance activities. Additionally, it provides comprehensive features like end-to-end process automation and digitalization, centralising trade finance instruments, products, and counterparty details within a unified platform.
These software and the companies that make use of them are interwoven. Hence, they serve here as both the software and the company using it. They are:
Apruve: Apruve transforms global B2B trade credit and collections with automated invoicing, embedded trade credit, and guaranteed next-day financing, simplifying net-term transactions for enterprises.
IBSFINtech: This is a global TreasuryTech enterprise that offers end-to-end digitization for Cash, Treasury, Risk, Trade Finance (TRTFM®), and Supply Chain Finance. They offer solutions including On-prem and SaaS TMS – InTReaX™ and have received “The Corporate Treasurer-House Awards” as a top Software Provider.
Nomentia: Based in Finland, Nomentia offers a customizable SaaS cash management system, including trade finance solutions, across Europe.
Finastra: London’s Finastra provides diverse financial solutions, including streamlined trade finance management and instrument handling.
Comarch: Comarch, located in Poland, empowers banks with trade finance solutions to offer guarantees, letters of credit, and collections to corporate clients.
CGI: Canada’s CGI offers Trade360, aiding banks and corporations in global trade finance and supply chain management across currencies.
Surecomp: Surecomp specialises in trade finance solutions for banks and corporations, centralising letters of credit, guarantees, and collections.
Oracle: US-based Oracle’s trade finance software centrally manages a range of trade finance products, enhancing instrument lifecycle efficiency.
You can also check out the following software tools;
According to Banker by Day, Trade Finance offers a dedicated career path with growth potential. Whether you specialise or explore roles, expertise guides your journey.
Organic Growth: Advance within the same vertical, manage larger clients, boost revenue, and climb the corporate ladder.
Advancement through Expertise: Transitioning between segments, gaining diverse experience, and mastering different product suites
Corporate Ventures: Corporations value trade experts, offering high-level roles and substantial offers.
Global Prospects: International interactions build reputation and knowledge, leading to senior roles worldwide.
In addition. embrace a dynamic journey in Trade Finance for continuous growth and international exposure.
Salary of a Trade Finance Specialist
As of August 3, 2023, Trade Finance Specialists in the US earned an average of $62,853 annually. Associates can make $75,000 to $140,000, varying by location and bank. Similar figures apply in Europe (€60,000 to €120,000) and Singapore (SGD 70,000 to SGD 120,000). Mid-level positions could earn up to $250,000 with certain banks. Variable pay, based on performance, ranges from 20% to 60%–80%.
Trade Finance Compensation: a table showing the levels in trade finance career and the requisite salary by country.
Trade Financing is important in the execution of international trade. Trade Finance Specialists play a vital role in steering the economy to growth through their participation in facilitating international trade.