Investing in our own talent

Offering our own people training in trade finance is just as important as helping to further the careers of those in our partner banks

In the TFP team we spend a great deal of time making sure that members of the trade finance family in our partner banks throughout the economies where the EBRD invests have opportunities to improve their skills and knowledge to further their careers. We do this in various ways: through our Trade Finance e-Learning Programme, as well as via a wide range of conferences, workshops and seminars run by us or in conjunction with other organisations.

Investing in people is key for the success and smooth running of trade finance activities, which is why we also make sure those in our own TFP team have the chance to improve their knowledge so that they can progress in their careers.

Ikbol Hakimov is an Analyst in our TFP team and Associate Editor of Trade Exchange. Last year he had the opportunity to study for the CITF qualification, which he passed (congratulations Ikbol!). Here he tells us why he decided to study and what he gained from it.

Why did you decide to study?

I felt I needed a better understanding of all elements of a trade transaction. The EBRD’s TFP provides a guarantee covering the risk of the issuing bank in favour of the confirming bank to facilitate cross-border trade. The transaction details and supporting documents are assessed to make a decision. In my day-to-day responsibilities in the TFP team I tend to just see the finished transaction.

However, there are a considerable number of activities that various stakeholders undertake when putting together a transaction ­– but I don’t see these. As a trade finance professional it is appropriate to understand the full cycle of trade finance and the roles of each party involved.

The classic example would be where the importer purchases goods or services from a foreign country. After agreeing on a trade contract, the importer and exporter approach their banks (the issuing and confirming banks) to arrange the payment; they contact the freight forwarders to manage the movement of the goods; and the insurers to cover the risk of loss or damage, and so on. The level of complexity of the transaction varies depending on the relationship between the importer-exporter and countries involved.

Studying for the CITF course gave me the opportunity to understand the key procedures, practices and legislation in trade finance on an international level.

So what is the CITF?

The Certificate in International Trade and Finance (CITF) is an international trade certification that improves your technical knowledge of the product, documents, trade terms, roles and responsibilities that underpin international trade and finance, and teaches you how to apply this knowledge to real situations.

The CITF qualification also helps you develop a basic understanding of fraud prevention and risk in trade finance. The wide-ranging scope of this international qualification includes:

  • the international trade environment
  • parties involved in international trade and finance and their roles
  • documents used in international trade and the Incoterms 2020 rules
  • contracts
  • trade-based financial crime compliance
  • methods of settlement
  • documentary collections
  • documentary credits
  • guarantees and standby letters of credit
  • principles of supply chain finance
  • other forms of finance
  • export credit insurance
  • foreign exchange risk management
  • digital disruption and innovation.

The CITF course is provided and awarded by the London Institute of Banking and Finance (LIBF). The qualification is supported by the Bankers Association for Finance and Trade (BAFT) and endorsed by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).

The course is well designed and supported by the online portal, which provides the course syllabus, study guidance, progress report and mock exam.

Making good use of these tools helped with the preparation and progress of the course. I also practised the multiple-choice questions at the end of each topic. Each topic consists of recommended books and links for further studies but you are not tested on these during the exam.

One thing I do like about this course is its flexibility and accessibility. The LIBF changed the testing system in 2019 so now candidates can take the test anytime in one of the Pearson VUE test centres worldwide and can get the result the same day. The course is valid for one year and the exam can be taken any time before the deadline.

Studying for the CITF course gave me the opportunity to understand the key procedures, practices and legislation in trade finance on an international level.

What did you find the most challenging?

If you’re working full time, the thought of studying for a qualification on top of doing your day job can be very daunting, but it is achievable. Just like any other qualification, the CITF requires commitment and preparation. Putting together a study plan and having good time management puts you in a much better position to succeed. There are 15 topics in total and each has specific areas that require more attention.

Did you find the course difficult and what was the most enjoyable topic?

Given my practical experience (I had already notched up three years of experience in trade finance) I spent about three weeks studying for the examination. They suggest spending approximately 200 hours in order to pass the exam. However, depending on the individual level of experience, this timeframe can be adjusted.

Most of the terminology and stakeholders involved in the process were very familiar. Having the practical experience enabled me to understand the topics quickly, recognise the roles of each party and focus more on the exam.

My favourite topic was the International Commercial Terms publication of 2020 (Incoterms 2020). This topic explains the obligations of the buyer and seller for the sale of goods in international transactions. Of primary importance is that the Incoterms rule clarifies the tasks, costs and risks to be borne by buyers and sellers in these transactions.

What did you gain from the study?

My practical experience has been complemented by the knowledge I’ve gained from the course, which will be valuable in my day-to-day work at the EBRD. It has also really boosted my confidence and this is something that will carry me through the next stages in my trade finance career. I definitely recommend CITF if you wish to understand how international trade works.

More information on LIBF courses can be found at
Perfecting your profession

Having the practical experience enabled me to understand the topics quickly, recognise the roles of each party and focus more on the exam.