Trade Finance Professional Education

Clarissa Dann Welcome to Trade Finance TV. I’m Clarissa Dann, and joining me here in the studio today is David Morrish of the London Institute of Banking & Finance. He’s going to tell us more about why trade finance qualifications helped so much to get trade flowing more efficiently.

David, welcome to the show. It’s been a bumpy old year in trade finance, hasn’t it? And trade itself has been a bit scary. How has the macro environment affected learning and the demand for courses?

David Morrish I guess, if anything, in fact, we’ve seen a slight increase. For all the good reasons, when you think about it,  I don’t think you might expect it. I mean, we get something like 6000 candidates a year that actually sit a range of trade finance qualifications, from well over 90 countries. And there’s been more interest in some of the traditional ones, and because of the trade climate, there’s been much more interest on the risk management side, you know, on how to protect your export revenue, this sort of thing.

And also on the compliance side of things, in other words, almost a revert back to some of the basics. You know, so it’s a situation of, ‘we know things are going on. Let’s make certain that what we do is as professional and risk free as we can do it.’ And we have seen big institutions investing more in their staff, which is great. It’s been very structured actually in a really good spread of take up of the qualifications to make certain that the right people are doing the right things that are relevant for them, which is great. This is actually exactly what you would hope to see.

Clarissa Dann So with the trade wars that have been going on, that’s very much sort of underpinned the talk of trade in 2019, there seems to be an inverse relationship between the more uncertainty, the more people seem to want trade finance. Why do you think that is?

David Morrish Well, if you’re talking about uncertainty and let’s take one particular means of settlement; a documentary credit. In terms of take up, this has been going slowly in decline over many years in a fairly stable environment. When you start talking about trade wars and conflicts and the weaponization of a trade, which is a great phrase, then suddenly people start to think a bit more. So, ‘actually, I think I’d rather stick with this particular means of settlement. That’s going to give me some certainty in regards to payment,’ and let’s say they almost hold back on some of the more esoteric areas. So an increase in take up and to go back to this particular point, the need for organizations to upskill essentially their staff and get them as professional as they can do, but also from an individual level. Individuals want to develop their own careers, develop their own professionalism. You know, they see this at an individual level, often as a way of giving them a difference, making their employers aware of their expertize, their knowledge and their hunger, I guess, as well.

Clarissa Dann So your students, are they all age ranges or are there many young people? What’s the profile of your average student?

David Morrish It is truly right across the peaks. Inevitably it’s weighted towards younger men because when people move into trade, they tend to be obviously strafing university or whatever. And again, they want to develop their expertize. But that’s not necessarily the case. You know, people see opportunities to move into trade, perhaps late in their careers and again, want to give themselves that really solid base of knowledge so that they understand what the issues are. They can speak the vocabulary, and that applies to people in the middle of their careers as much as it does for people starting out.

Clarissa Dann Let’s look a bit more about your career. How did it all start David?

David Morrish Well, embarrassingly it was 50 years ago yesterday. I left school in Birmingham and joined Lloyds Banks. Overseas branches it was then. And it’s a great example of where perhaps professionalism and education could have been stronger. The institution, then didn’t have this range of trade qualifications. There was much less out there to help you, so you were very reliant on learning on the job from great people, you know, immensely knowledgeable.

But obviously what you learned essentially was what they knew rather than actually getting that much broader picture, that much stronger picture that you get with structured learning and say, that was my experience all those years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed it, spent 25-30 years in trade. But like I say, I really wished, in fact, some of these qualifications, different sorts of learning had been around then.

Clarissa Dann How do you see 2020 panning out and indeed beyond in terms of the demand and the way the economy’s going? What’s your crystal ball telling you?

David Morrish Well, that’s always a tough one. Again, a personal view. Thankfully, we have got a range of qualifications that seem to be relevant to the current situation, we’ve just totally revised the certificate in trade finance, international trade finance, which essentially covers every aspect of trade, and that’s been totally revamped to now include things like sustainability, digitization and so on.

We’ve also introduced things on supply chain finance, which is increasingly important, you know, really driving the economy forward. And of course, in trade finance compliance, which 15-20 years ago existed, but in fact, now is a major, major concern by the regulators to make certain the banks and so on really do understand and apply their knowledge and understand their responsibilities.

Clarissa Dann So financial crime is on the rise, means the demand for trade finance seems to be on the rise.

David Morrish Absolutely. And the more you read, obviously, the more sophisticated the criminals are. It’s such a shame. Why not take the right hand path in life rather than the left hand path, as it were? These guys are bright, very sophisticated, and we have to be, as an industry, at least one step, maybe two steps in front.

Clarissa Dann So what’s your message to our audience for 2020?

David Morrish I don’t think it’s going to be as bad as maybe all the vocabulary that we are using in now, so things like, say, conflicts and wars and so on. Trade will still go on. You will still get the dynamic areas such as China and India, Bangladesh re-developing their export trade. They want to spread the word. They want to actually export to the world quality goods. I don’t see that changing. And as long as the demand is still there in the West and elsewhere, why should it? So personal view is trade will still grow, maybe not quite as fast as it has done in the recent past, but it’s still going to get out there. It’s 20 trillion US at the moment. It’s on a steady, maybe slightly slower increase, but it’s still increasing. I really don’t see that changing.

Clarissa Dann David, thank you so much.

David Morrish Thank you, Clarissa.

Clarissa Dann I would like to thank our guest, David Morrish, for appearing today, and of course all of you for watching. For other reports, do visit TRADEFINANCETV.NET, and don’t forget to follow us on LinkedIn. For further insights do visit DB.COM/FLOW.

Published on November 27, 2019