My first exposure to trade finance related matters was in cocoa beans operations with Jacobs Suchard back in 1985.  When the company decided to re-locate the cocoa and coffee desks to London I was asked to move there as well.  However, I heard through the grapevine that the ultimate location would be with Van Houten in Germany so I declined.  Indeed, within the year the operations were moved there and I would have been left with only two choices.  A young chap called Felix that had been with us on a temporary assignment suggested I approach SBG (later becoming UBS after the reverse take-over by Swiss Bank Corp.) as they were always looking for English speaking people with practical skills in handling shipping documents.  I was a little surprised that I was offered a position upon my first interview but that, as they say, was the event that shaped the rest of my business career.

I spent some 7 years with UBS in the trade finance department and had the benefit of a very good education.  In those days banks invested more heavily in their staff than is perhaps the case today.  I was even sent to their residential internal banking courses in Aarau.  However, in order to advance my career I realised it would mean a change of bank.  Of the several banks in Zurich that offered me a post I chose BHE (Bank fuer Handel und Effekten) that had the largest trade finance department and a wide range of clients.  I spent a very happy 7 years with them, running through the gamut of LC team leader, front office, correspondent banking etc.  Then I was approached by Glencore to take over their trade finance desk in Baar, Switzerland.  This proved to be a most challenging change of occupation after ca. 15 years in banking.  Starting from scratch I had to re-build the team that had fractured and left whilst trying to come to grips with the internal workings of what was then a very big operation, and which has become much larger since.  But it was an exciting place to be and the learning curve was almost vertical.  From there I moved on to Marc Rich Investment & Co. AG (now MRI) to run their trade finance desk.  Once again I had to put a new team in place, worked on establishing and implementing systems etc.

After a few years at MRI the time had come to decide whether or not to take the plunge and become an independent consultant.  The decision was not an easy one to make, moving from a remunerative position at a well-established trading company to a state of utter uncertainty, was not one to be taken lightly.  Still, my dear wife was very supportive and, as the song goes, with a little help from my friends, I did indeed choose the path less often trodden.  This too was very invigorating and enabled me to work on various projects from LME grade metals financing through to putting in place pre-production finance for South American coffee growers incorporating price hedges with various bells and whistles.

Then one day I received an invitation from one of the Kolmar Group AG board members asking me to consider taking over their trade finance desk.  This too was not an easy call to make.  Giving up my hard-earned freedom was difficult for both my dear wife and myself.  But the corporate culture and the people involved in the company were such that I felt it would be a move for the better.  That is indeed what it was and since 2006 Kolmar has become like a second family to me.  When I passed my LL.M in international trade law I was enabled to change my role and move into the handling of bank relationships, company registrations, quasi-legal matters and many more things as well.  As I am almost daily confronted with trade finance matters of a more technical nature my skills have not been allowed to rust away.

My propensity for espousing sometimes trenchant and/or contrarian views on trade finance related matters has been encouraged by the publication of various articles in different publications, giving presentations for the ICC in Vienna and such like means.  I have also been fortunate to have articles on quite different subjects printed and I especially enjoy participating in a couple of discussion fora that encourage the exchange of views on a wide range of topics related to trade finance matters.