Trade Finance careers offer a unique opportunity to feel the pulse of global commerce or even help build local supply chains. It straddles a fine line between main street and the banks that finance them. You get a feel for both sides – a bit of finance combined with a fair bit of working with large businesses to optimize their supply chains.
The world-wide rules, regulations and best practices surrounding trade finance can however be complex and hard to unravel. Experienced trade finance professionals are always in high demand across banks, corporates, international bodies and even governments. Breaking into trade finance or related roles without any prior experience can be hard, but these certifications can help you get your foot in the door. They are also well suited for working professionals looking to make a lateral shift into trade related roles.
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Why do you need a Trade Finance Certification?
They helps you to instantly stand out from the crowd. Recruiters are swamped with hundreds of candidates for each role, you need every extra edge you can get.
They showcase your interest in, and commitment to, trade finance. If you are willing to spend the time and effort to clear one of these certifications, it signals to recruiters that you are committed to the field.
They increase your knowledge and help you preform better in your role.
They add a lot of CV value and enhance your personal brand. I have selected from only the most reputable course providers which means these are perfect if your vying for management/ leadership positions.
What to look for in a Trade Finance course/ certification?
Instant brand recognition – If you are interested in pursuing a tread finance course to further your career, you need one that adds the most brand value to your CV and really singles you out form amongst the mass of people that apply for these roles every day.
Globally relevant content – Trade finance requires a deep understanding of global finance and capital movements. You need courses and certification that touch not only on trade finance instruments, but also on forex and supply chain.
Exceptional course quality & real-world case studies – I like courses that keep things interesting. This means going beyond theory and into the realm of practical problem solving. Nothing gets the juices flowing like a real world problem that requires out of the box thinking.
Courses from the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) are the gold standard when it comes to trade finance certifications. The Global Trade Certificate (GTC) is their introductory trade finance certifications and I consider it to be essential for anyone in corporate/ commercial banking, trade finance, supply chain finance or other related roles. Even relationship/ coverage managers, credit analysts, compliance and legal teams at banks and management executives will benefit.
The certification is highly module with 6 core courses and 3 electives. This allows you to tailor the course curriculum based on your specific requirements and role. The essentials of trade finance like documentary credit, guarantees, receivable and distributor finance etc. are part of the core courses. While with the electives, you could choose to focus on trade compliance and pricing or perhaps go heavier on the risk side.
The course material is excellent and you would be hard pressed to find a better branding and CV building opportunity than this.
Time to Complete: Around 30-40 hours. Each course takes around 3-4 hours, plus one final certification exam lasting 60 mins. You will have access to course materials for 12 months.
Available online and on-demand. You can take the entire certification online (exam is live proctored via the internet).
You receive a formal downloadable accredited certificate signed by the ICC Secretary General on successful completion. This is immense brand value given ICC’s instant recognition and authority in this domain.
ICC has several courses dedicated to Trade Finance. The CTFP is a more advanced course meant for seasoned trade professionals. The Trade Finance Professional is one of their most popular offerings these and best suited for trade finance teams.
Working capital, documentary credit, guarantees, supply chain, export finance are all covered. It’s more or less a complete package to learn the ropes. The courses here are more advanced and detailed than those offered as part of the Global Trade Certificate so some prior experience is recommended.
There are 5 core courses and 4 elective courses allowing you to tailor the certification based on your need. I personally am a big fan of digital trade finance and fintech and seeing it offered here made me instantly like this certification a whole lot more.
ICC is a well-known brand when it comes to Trade Finance. This certification will add value to your CV while also taking your skill and personal brand to the next level.
This is a foundational course that will introduce you to the basics of Supply Chain Financing. It’s a great starting point for beginners to this field. It’s a more reasonable entry point than some of the more advanced (and more expensive) certifications on this list. That is not to say that the course does not cover advanced topics, its just that it is more accessible if you have no prior trade experience. You have to start with the basics.
The course covers most aspects like working capital financing, bill discounting, payable finance, pricing, technologies and even future trends like blockchain and AI. There are also a few case studies to help you along. You will learn why supply chain financing is needed in the first place and the enables that make things possible. You will also learn about the trade financing ecosystem and managing a program successfully.
There is a final exam before the certification is added and this can be a valuable addition to your CV if you are looking to interview for a trade or supply chain finance role. What I like most about this course is that it can be completed based on your timelines unlike other certifications where you may have to wait for an exam on scheduled dates which can take years.
EDHEC is a leading French business school and they have partnered with one of Europe’s largest financial institutions (Société Générale) to create this course. This means you get the best of both worlds – excellent course delivery and real-world experience.
The course covers the financing the trade in goods and commodities, receivable finance, asset backed finance and the hedging of such trades. Interestingly, it also goes into the realm of structured trade finance and acquisition finance. That may not be relevant to all, but it’s certainly a component of global financing.
It offers some solid branding for your CV and a good opportunity to learn the basics. The course is decently priced which makes it attractive for someone just trying to get a taste of things before diving in.
Another advanced course that is ideal for corporate bankers, trade finance professionals and even trade operations staff who want to take the next step in their careers. Think of it as an executive program.
Topic coverage is pretty comprehensive, ranging form SBLCs, LC, invoice discounting, bank guarantees, bonds, export and import finance, documentation, risk and credit issues, regulatory complexities and so on. It’s pretty much everything you need to know condensed into a 3 day programme.
Fitch Leaning is a reputable provider with considerable expertise corporate finance. I highly recommend this course if you can find corporate sponsorship to attended it.
Time to Complete: 3 days.
Course delivered in-person at select locations.
About the Author
Gaurav started his career as a Corporate and Investment Banking intern at Citi in 2009 and eventually ended up as an Associate Director at Standard Chartered Bank’s Wholesale Banking division a few years later. By 2016, Gaurav was consulting FinTech start-ups in London with product development in the institutional banking space. He also advises mid-market Private Equity/ Asset Management firms and Banks in North America and Europe with investments in the financial services and FinTech sector. Gaurav writes on topics ranging from European Union banking regulations and FinTech to Blockchain startups and the inevitable rise of our AI overlords! He has an Engineering degree in Computer Science and an MBA with a double major in Finance and Marketing. He is also a Certified Financial Risk Manager.
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