First of all, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to join the ITFA Board. It is an honour to be a part of this great team.
I cannot say that it was a single major event that brought me to the point where I am today but rather a series of experiences and interactions with people throughout my life. These influences played a vital role in my personal and professional developments, starting within my own family - with my parents who both have a background in banking and finance.
Nowadays there are a few people in the trade and forfaiting market who just like me were born and brought up in large Soviet cities. People who graduated from Soviet schools and studied in local universities during the post-Soviet era. This generation of professionals was the first to have had the opportunity to broaden their horizons and have a career in major international financial centres. And nothing more international than trade finance.
I started my journey in Asaka Bank in 1997, a local large bank in Uzbekistan. There I held different managerial roles in Trade Finance and Transaction Banking. Some years later in 2004 I found myself in a dilemma when I was offered a position in an international bank. The choice which ended by changing my life completely in the years to come was between an already successful career managing a team of 30 people in a large local bank on one hand and on the other to join a much smaller team at ABN AMRO Bank NB Uzbekistan which was then the only fully operational affiliate of a Western Bank in the country.
I joined the bank as Head of Trade Advisory Operations in the Tashkent office. But it was my passion to work with people in an international and cross-cultural environment that made me realize that trade finance goes far beyond traditional letters of credit, collections and guarantees. Two years later, in 2006, I was invited to join the Trade Asset Management team in London for ABN AMRO Bank N.V., a completely new role in a major financial centre. I joined the team in London to work alongside the Fl relationship teams to originate trade transactions from financial institutions in Russia & CIS countries as well as distribute the entire range of trade products to European Fl investors. I really enjoyed those years working for an accomplished global trade bank and working with some of the most experienced people in trade finance. The subsequent acquisition of ABN AMRO wholesale operations by RBS was two years in the making and being a part of this unprecedented merger proved to be a fascinating experience.
The years I spent in ABN and RBS gave me a huge amount of insights and exposure which led to the incredible opportunity to join Bank of America Merrill Lynch back in 2011. The role was to work alongside a former ABN colleague as well as friend and a mentor - Paul Coles - to set up the EMEA Trade Risk Distribution desk for BofAML. Six years after the bank is now an important market player in the global secondary trade market and together with my fellow colleagues in all regional distribution desks we hope to strengthen this position even further.
I have had a unique opportunity to work in major trade banks and to close award winning high profile deals. In my recently appointed capacity as EMEA Head of Trade Risk Distribution at BofAML I look forward to further developing our investor partnerships.
It is a great honour for me to have the opportunity to join the Board of ITFA in 2017. An Association of major importance in the trade finance community which has been fostering the development as well as the sharing of best practices in the market. An Association that provides its members a wide range of services and activities designed to assist the strategic development and day to day running of their organizations.
In my specific role covering Institutional Relations I will continue ITFA’s active cooperation with other forfaiting and trade experts and associations such as the ICC, BAFT and Supranational Institutions, working in close coordination with the Market Practice Committee.
The current challenges in the trade finance activity and in the market in general such as regulatory environment, low interest rates and margins, lack of standardized terminology in trade, to name a few create the need for our organizations to work together and promote joint actions in support of broader trade goals. I strongly believe that the ITFA community together with other partner Institutions has a lot to offer in the way of resources and expertise to bring us together to overcome these challenges.