News Column

Staying the course on trade finance

August 6, 2014

What of interest did you learn from the ICC banking conference in Dubai?

"This was the fourth International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Banking Commission meeting I have attended and as before it proved an excellent opportunity to meet old friends, make new acquaintances and hear of the latest developments in international trade and hopefully do a bit of business too. The Dubai meeting did not disappoint.

"ICC UAE held its own 'Technical Trade Forum' at the start of the week with a number of excellent sessions. These included presentations on Middle East trade guarantee practices, new Chinese guarantee rules, the potential impact of Basel III and trade-based money laundering; all very current issues with some serious challenges and opportunities of course.

"This was followed by the ICC Banking Commission meeting itself with insights on Islamic Trade Finance and trade finance generally in the region.

There was also a significant focus again on trade-related financial crime risks and the increasing demands of the regulators. This really is getting some traction and the meeting provided a wonderful opportunity to share thoughts and concerns.

"There were excellent sessions too on the role of the ICC in rule making and in arbitration.

"I had the opportunity to present on how the ifs University College international trade finance qualifications, endorsed by the ICC, help develop high levels of expertise and professionalism. One of these, the Certificate in International Trade and Finance (CITF®), has just been totally refreshed so there was plenty to talk about."

What is your organisation's remit and services for the ME region? How do you deliver your services?

"Our prime objective is to increase awareness of our range of trade- related qualifications and to ensure that everyone has access to them. All of our qualifications are supported by a core text book which is also available to candidates online together with other learning materials including sample exam papers. Candidates achieve success primarily through private study with a two or three hour examination. On successful completion they may use the appropriate designatory letters - CITF, CDCS and CSDG - which are widely recognised around the world.

"I should add that none of these has been developed solely for the Middle East region. They have all been designed to have truly global appeal which is of course critical in international trade."

How is IFS partnering in the region?

"ifs University College works closely with ICC National Committees in a number of Middle East countries and also with one or two specialist training providers. There is certainly a great deal of enthusiasm and commitment and these initiatives are very well supported in some instances with government funding."

What is the business model and how does one sign up for courses?

"ifs University College offers a wide range of professional qualifications including five full time Degree level options in financial services from our campus in London and also a Masters level qualification which is also available online.

"In the context of international trade we have three qualifications developed in partnership with the ICC. These are specifically the:

??Certificate in International Trade and Finance (CITF®) - this provides a comprehensive overview of all aspects of trade finance and is aimed at those new to international trade or perhaps wish to widen their understanding. The syllabus and core text has been completely revised and updated for this year and includes recent developments such as Bank Payment Obligations. Also for the first time there is a separate chapter in the text on Islamic Trade Finance, seen as critical in this fast growing market.

??Certificate for Documentary Credit Specialists (CDCS®) - this is designed primarily for documentary letter of credit practitioners, those in banks and major exporters/ importers that depend on expertise in this specialist field.

??Certificate for Specialists in Demand Guarantees (CSDG) - this is a sister qualification to CDCS® and newly introduced this year. CSDG has been developed for those engaged in the issuance of guarantees supporting tenders, contract performance etc. "As to registering this couldn't be simpler; it is just a question of completing the relative application form. There are no entry requirements. For full information go to http://www. finance-qualifications."

What is the current demand and trend for courses?

"Introduced in 1999 CDCS® was the first of our dedicated trade finance qualifications. Thousands of candidates in over 80 countries around the world now study our three trade qualifications each year. We also ensure that as far as possible, there is an exam venue in every country. In some countries where demand is particularly high there are exam centres in several cities to make access as easy as possible.

What's important in specialist reskilling for BFI employees?

"For any re-skilling the key element is to make absolutely certain that you are receiving the best and most appropriate training and qualifications. Decide what your skills are, what you want to achieve and give those total focus. If in any doubt at all, make sure you take advice from someone or some organisation that you trust and respect to give an honest and objective appraisal!"

Which are the most popular courses and certifications?

"Our most popular qualification is without question CDCS®. This was introduced fifteen years ago and is now very well established and highly respected. Successful completion of CDCS® shows that an individual has achieved a high level of understanding and application, knowledge which is directly relevant in every country in the world. CSDG is new this year and has exceeded our expectations. It is hoped that this will set the same standards for demand guarantees as CDCS® has achieved for documentary credits. And following its update we expect CITF® to become the standard for those seeking a high level of understanding in all aspects of international trade."

How is IFS developing courses in terms of US and UK market and finance regulators' requirements?

"This is a really good point. As I mentioned in response to your opening question the regulators have been looking very closely at international trade as they see it as an ideal vehicle for money laundering and terrorist financing.

"We have recently introduced these topics into the core syllabus of our qualifications as a direct consequence but there is always the potential to do more. We will be watching developments in this area very closely. Two London- based banks I have spoken to recently have recruited additional staff and are investing in new training to ensure they can counter these threats."

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Source: Banker Middle East

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