Dear Aspiring Trade Aficionado, 

The exchange of goods and services across borders influences our daily lives and dominates political discourse. Trade structures such as the Silk Road, Hanseatic League, Dutch East India Company, General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, and the European Union have increasingly come to define each facet of our lives, from what we eat to how we govern our international affairs. Yet, few people understand the financial instruments and principles that facilitate this exchange of goods and services.

Case in point: Ask a person on the street to describe a complex financial instrument like a mortgage-backed security (MBS) and they will likely offer a meticulous breakdown of pooling and tranching. Ask the same person to describe the far more conventional Letter of Credit, and all you will get in return is a confused gaze. Now, while it may have helped the MBS that The Big Short included a scene of Margot Robbie explaining them while drinking champagne in a bathtub, we believe understanding trade instruments should be equally accessible.

This website aims to do just that: making the world of trade finance understandable in an accessible and engaging manner. And while we probably won’t offer any champagne-bathtub interviews, we will be asking some of the world’s leading experts to share their knowledge about how trade finance works, where the industry is heading, who the players are, and how young professionals can enter and advance within the industry.

How this started:

A few years back, when I was a student, I didn’t know what I wanted to do come graduation. I knew what my interests were, broadly speaking: international politics, economics, law, finance, business, and so on. But what could I do that would allow me to pursue all those interests at once?

Having studied international relations, I had been exposed to a number of disciplines throughout my studies, and global trade in particular seemed to tick all the boxes. But it was far from clear what type of jobs were available in trade. It was obvious that there were careers available in the foreign service of national governments or in international institutions such as the World Bank. But in the private sector? Not as obvious. 

Through a combination of luck and stubbornness I managed to find my way into the trade team of a global insurance company, where I discovered a whole new world of trade-related careers that involved all the interests I knew I wished to pursue. 

Since then, I’ve tried to learn as much as I can about the world of global trade and trade finance. But it hasn’t been as easy as it should have been. I constantly found that learning about how trade is conducted is an unnecessarily troublesome endeavour; more often than not you have the choice between a poorly written five-sentence description and a 300-page wordy legal document when you’re looking for information on a new topic. From my discussions with other young professionals in the industry, it was clear I wasn’t the only one who was frustrated.

In 2019, I’d had enough and decided to create tradeXplain.

So who am I?

  • My name is Pouya Jafari and I live in London, UK. 
  • I’ve always had a passion for understanding how the world works and I find that analysing how countries, companies, and people trade goods and services with one another is a fantastic avenue for analysing these relations. Today, I’m lucky enough to get to do this for a living.
  • I started my career in the graduate programme of a global insurance company, rotating between the company’s various trade teams.
  • Since then, I have worked at a major bank as a credit analyst for inventory finance transactions and an alternative credit asset manager that invests in trade finance transactions as an asset class.
  • Nowadays I work in the Trade Innovation team at a leading global bank, trying to help bring trade finance into the future.
  • In addition to my day job and running tradeXplain, I’m the Chairperson of the International Trade & Forfaiting Association’s (ITFA) Emerging Leaders Committee.
  • I regularly speak at industry conferences and occasionally write articles on trade finance.
  • When I’m not thinking about trade, I spend my time doing martial arts, playing the piano, reading, and learning about political philosophy.

Does tradeXplain have any friends?

tradeXplain has many friends.

The International Trade & Forfaiting Association (ITFA) has helped market this website, from hosting its launch-event in partnership with AIG in July 2019 through continuous mention in various publications. ITFA’s Emerging Leaders, headed by Duarte Pedreira and chaired by Aarti Patel, have fuelled this support.

Shannon Manders, a leading financial journalist and Editorial Director of the Global Trade Review, conducts interviews for tradeXplain, due to her shared passion for making trade finance more accessible.

And a number of organisations have partnered with tradeXplain to offer discounted global trade education for young professionals and readers of the website. Have a look through these pages to learn which ones.

Get started:

If you’ve made it this far, I can tell you’re serious about learning more about trade and trade finance. Here are some articles to get you started:

Trade Finance: An overview of the basics
Export Finance: Long-term financing for overseas borrowers
Commodity Trade Finance: Challenging, exciting, and here to stay