When Jun Jep Lee, CTP, business development executive for Triterras, got his start in corporate banking, he didn’t understand why it was so important to have knowledge of treasury. “I started in 2008 as a relationship manager handling SME accounts. I mainly hunted and put-up loan credit applications, along with setting up various cash and trade management services for my clients. The role may seem straightforward, but getting traditional SMEs that have been comfortable not using credit facilities to start was challenging,” said Lee. “It takes a lot of knowledge to advise these clients as to how the loans or other cash management services can help them in their businesses, and it only got harder when I moved on to deal with large corporates.”
Three primary responsibilities fill his dayIn Lee’s current role as business development executive for Triterras, a leading fintech company focused on trade and trade finance, he has three primary responsibilities make up his day-to-day schedule. First, he communicates with clients to ensure an understanding of their transaction flow, which determines their short-term financing needs. In these communications, he also offers advice as to how Triterras’ system can help them manage their transaction flows (both buying and selling) to improve their cash visibility, thereby smoothing out the buying and selling processes and improving operational efficiencies, as well as helping create a better system of internal communications.
Lee also spends a portion of this day working to assist the distribution team in the marketing of trade finance as an asset class to potential investors, as well as communicating with the tech team on how they can further improve the system to better meet their clients’ needs.
Securing short-term financing is a challengeIn his role, Lee faces a number of challenges, but none as critical as securing short-term financing for clients to improve their liquidity issues. “A lot of the local banks SMEs approached for short-term financing are rejecting borrowers due to the recent trade finance scandals,” said Lee. A lot of the SMEs are unaware of offshore financiers, both banks and non-banks, which can be a good source for their short-term financing needs.
Another hurdle is that these offshore funders lack the technology to mitigate the risk. Offshore non-banks lack the knowledge of trade finance and are thus reluctant to invest as an asset class. To counter this, Lee uses his understanding of trade finance and technology to communicate with and educate clients and funders. “Knowledge is key,” said Lee.
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Trade finance and finance technology most important skills to addWhen asked what skills are important to add in the coming years, Lee immediately pointed to trade finance and finance technology. “The trade finance gap has all along existed all along and will only get worse with the tightening by banks in recent years due to the many scandals that have plagued the industry,” said Lee.
That, coupled with the Basel requirement, have made it difficult for SMEs to secure short-term financing in order to expand, or even maintain, their business. Treasury professionals who have knowledge of trade finance can help provide targeted solutions to improve the liquidity issues these SMEs are or may be facing. At the same time, knowledge of finance technology can help mitigate risks and improve efficiency.
For his own personal development, Lee would like to further expand his knowledge of trade finance, in addition to credit analysis, FP&A, risk assessment, and finance technology. That said, “The CTP course covers a large part of this and equipped me with the skills I need to communicate effectively with borrowers and potential investors,” said Lee.
Looking to his future in the treasury profession, Lee would like to be able to build a system that can be used to handle company finance, sales, accounting and operations. “The implementation of such a system will ensure that everyone in the company uses the system, thus reducing errors and raising efficiency levels,” said Lee.
Earning the CTP opened doors
Lee decided to go for his CTP due to it being a globally recognized certification, as well as the fact that the modules cover a wide swath of his work. Has earning the CTP led to any career benefits for Lee as of yet? “Since earning my certification, I am being approached by head-hunters, MNCs and financial institutions,” said Lee. “It has and will continue to open new doors in my career. I can now communicate easily with my funders and lenders, as well as borrowers.”
He added that the group of treasury enthusiasts he’s met virtually during their self-organized classes and connected with via WhatsApp and LinkedIn has become the basis of a global friendship, which is “not something you can get easily,” said Lee.
When asked if he would recommend the CTP to others, Lee responded with a very enthusiastic yes. “It is an internationally recognized certification and will definitely open new doors for candidates, but most important is the knowledge you gain; it definitely answered a lot of questions I had on the subject of treasury,” said Lee.
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