For the last couple of decades, the digital revolution has altered and completely overhauled the modus operandi of businesses across the globe. And finance & banking sector is not an aberration to this transformation. The coronavirus has made it a compulsion to be digitally sound so that business operations could be carried out digitally. No longer are we meant to manage heavy paper work or be physically available to make things happen. People throughout the world are coming to terms with the remote processes helpful to push their growth in these tough times. Now, banks have a bigger role to play in this changed scenario in order to help business and industries to sustain and grow.
Today, we are going to talk about a finance & banking veteran who is empowering businesses throughout the world with smart trade finance services along with comprehensive banking solutions through Euro Exim Bank. He is none other than Mr. Graham Bright, Head of Compliance and Operations at Euro Exim Bank. For the last six years, Graham has been a force to reckon with when it comes to establishing Euro Exim Bank as the global bank.
Euro Exim Bank (EEB) is an innovative financial institution that caters to import and export businesses throughout the world. Regulated and monitored in St. Lucia, it facilitates authenticated trade finance instructions. EEB helps firms in realising their trade aspirations by means of the issuance of financial instruments such as Letters of Credit, Standby Letters of Credit, Performance bonds and Bank Guarantees, merchant accounts, and growing online services. With tight due diligence and security assurance, it provides clients the safe banking facilities at competitive rates and new merchant account services, with secure account access available online with a 24×7 call centre.
Leader in future proofed technology
It aims to be the pre-eminent largest and most efficient trade finance institution providing quality financial solutions and facilitating financial flexibility for global clients. As an international institution, Euro Exim Bank has emerged as a leader in future proofed technology embracing blockchain, payment and liquidity solutions, benefiting its clients worldwide.
Since its inception in 2015, it has been working with an aspiration to be the one-stop shop for corporates and high net worth individuals through innovative value-added products and services and to operate in a sustainable, ethical manner with strong CSR policy, regulatory compliance and environmental awareness.
The journey of Euro Exim Bank has been steady but not slow and this makes it stand apart from the most of the financial institutions that are struggling for the last few years. The operations of the bank began with a blank sheet; there was no legacy products or establishments. The founding team approached with openness to experimentation and risk, determination to transform the status quo, and a solid business strategy to ‘push the boundaries while leveraging modern technology, with its key focus on the clients/customers.
Euro Exim’s approach to view through the lenses of the clients and create offerings laid the foundation of the brand as one of the fastest growing and leading international financial institution, implementing a new approach beyond traditional trade financing products and services.
With its headquarters in St. Lucia, West Indies, representative office in London and back-office IT centre of excellence in Chennai, Euro Exim is award winning and well known for its exclusive dealings and catering a well-rounded experience servicing registered corporates and clients based in active markets such as the UAE, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, China, Africa, and India.
Doing right thing and things right
The bank has embraced evolution quite smoothly that has been going in the industry for the last few years. From faster payments to implementing blockchain enabled solution, the key has been greater efficiency, transparency, cost reduction, digitization of documents and digitalization of processes. Other major areas of change have been the reduction in paper, greater credibility and reliance on electronic signature and cutting out bureaucratic process. “For our interconnected industry, with complex lifecycles, relationships and timings, whilst new technologies are available to change the way we transact international business, there are still major hurdles to gain international acceptance, standardization and expected cost reductions”, asserts Mr. Bright.
In such circumstances, it becomes imperative for Euro Exim Bank to do the right thing along with doing things right. Also, the bank is fervent to maintain corporate policies of treating its customers fairly and respectfully. With so many clients across the globe, it works with multiple jurisdictions, cultures, business principles and regulatory demands, many of which differ greatly. The bank understands the individual requirements as well as national obligations, where it aims not only to satisfy client demand but to exceed expectations. This leads to follow-on business, mutual trust and confidence in its products and services.
Though the journey has not been a smooth ride. There were preliminary work challenges including the necessity for less paper, integrated workflow systems handling diverse documents reflecting the variety of goods and sanctions, the increasing role of compliance and legal in due diligence, burden of AML, KYC sanctions and PEP checking, clean data capture, and full understanding of the complex trade ecosystem with all its players, processes, timings and expectations.
In order to service global, regional and local businesses in the trade finance arena, it is a prerequisite to have a strong view of the market, feet on the ground to cope with different jurisdictions, understanding local culture and spotting potential fraud. “We also needed new skill sets from our staff, with experienced people keeping up with regulations and compliance, focusing on specific markets and understanding the infrastructures that support those markets”, says Graham. By means of investment, skill and forward-thinking management, Euro Exim Bank is now well positioned to tackle the ever-changing landscape of change and to continue its business productively, technologically proficiently, ethically and profitably.
Defying the odds and increasing headcount
Although Covid-19 has decimated some business, it has also presented many opportunities for companies, as international trade continues, even with difficulties obtaining finance and currency. At EEB, there is an increase in the amount of proposed business in target markets as many of the larger banks are not currently able to support smaller corporates. “With a diverse team geographically, currently represented in 24 countries, we have seen an explosion of interest, traffic and proposals coming our way as we offer very competitive rates, a unique, trusted service with gearing for repeat business”, says an emphatic Graham.
At a time when competitors are retracting, Euro Exim Bank has increased its headcount in its international offices. At the beginning of 2020, it had 50 people agents and partners. Now it works with more than 250 people, at a time where Covid-19 uncertainty and cost cutting generally has meant major banks laying off significant number of staff.
Even for financial companies, despite possible security issues, banks are moving from traditional bricks and mortar to more virtual presence. This is also freeing up very experienced people with significant contacts who can work with EEB on an independent basis in the role of principle provider of trade services, all for the benefit of EEB’s growing customer base. Graham Bright has worked as a catalyst towards the growth of the bank. There are a mix of factors, including positive mental attitude, self-confidence and believing in oneself to achieve life goals that have led Graham Bright to lead from the bright.
Euro Exim Bank owes much of its success to its employees whom it considers the greatest asset as they consult in the market, understand the threats and opportunities and identify, guide and direct the way EEB market its products and services. The management is continually looking for experienced sales and IT staff, and with their knowledge and internal training, it is creating a strong EEB brand.
“We have excellent management/staff relations and many of our staff have been with us since the formation of the company. We also receive many enquiries from the financial community regarding work opportunities, especially as we are expanding operations in India, Singapore, Dubai and looking at Africa also”, points out Graham. As a leader of the organization, Graham has been quite apt at making right people do the right thing. Also, he motivates them to work independently, mindful of CSR policy not only revenue.
Jack of all trade and master of almost everything
All these years, Graham has taken inspiration from his father. He has inherited many traits from his father including calmness and composure. This is why he doesn’t get deviated much by social media, working all hours to become a millionaire or blindly building wealth. He believes life is an accumulation of smaller experiences: meeting people and creating lasting honest relationships, sharing love and laughs with family, being a grandparent, respecting and emulating the legacy of his father, looking forward to sharing new experiences. His key learnings have been the drive to achieve a business degree, appointment as a Magistrate, having a book published, acting on the London stage, on TV and in film, scoring under 85 at golf, and driving the car he always promised myself!
He has a number of outside interests that keep the mind active. These include the Magistracy, sitting in court and dealing with criminal law matters. He also watches Rugby and attends matches. In addition to writing and reading, he keeps himself busy with some Do-it yourself building projects maintaining the house. He has also performed on stage since the age of 11 and continues associations with stage companies, appearing in musical productions.
When he is not at work, he takes time to recharge, refocus and rest. He takes out time to read, learn and spends time with his wife who shares his hobbies and passions. They love to celebrate successes of their children and commiserate in time of adversity, and be a significant part of grandchildren’s lives. He sits in Magistrates and Crown Court fulfilling a rewarding and respected duty, imparting justice and pragmatic fairness. He also writes, performs on stage, and he is an avid Rugby supporter of a leading UK team.
Graham has always believed in taking risks in life be it personal or professional. Personally, he has taken risks, mountaineered, sailed on ocean going yachts, driven fast cars, flown a small plane, dived in the Caribbean and the Barrier Reef, got close and personal with lions in Africa, travelled to over 100 countries and survived dangerous situations. “My biggest risks have been rejection, failure, making mistakes, however, with age these risks seem trivial. By taking risks I found confidence to have faith in myself to apply for jobs I thought I would never get, to be recognized as a leader, a safe pair of hands, compassionate imaginative and artistic”, he says.
Euro Exim Bank has been recognized for a number of major industry awards, and recognized in such prestigious magazines as UK Parliamentary Review, International Finance, The European, CIO Review, World Business Review, European Business Magazine, and featured in the world financial press. It has been awarded the accolade ‘One of the 10 Best Fintech Solution Providers to Watch Out for’ in 2020. It is also working with Lord John Waverley, Member of the UK House of Lords and UK trade delegations on an exciting trade project and platform named Supplyfinder, covering tenders, connecting opportunities and players across the entire trade ecosystem.
Graham has an advice for people aiming to go into a leadership position for the first time. He says, “Building a business takes years and relies on solid foundations. In the current uncertain economic climate, firms must be realistic in profit and investment outlook, exercise pragmatic management, hire professionals, release the unproductive, listen and learn constantly from peers and competition, understand value and contribution, not just expenditure, and ultimately work out what customers want and keep delivering it.”
Life is short. Wake each day with a new passion, staying balanced through highs and lows and not being too proud to ask for help.
Know more about the veteran
Graham Bright, Head of Compliance and Operations, has experience of more than 35 years in the finance industry, where his extensive experience has encompassed sales, working collaboratively with industry utilities, regulators, and Central Banks (RTGS projects), consulting and partner/channels management. He holds a BA (Hons.) degree in Business Studies, and is a serving UK Justice of the Peace in Magistrates Court and sits on Crown Court appeals. He was a former Regional Manager at SWIFT (or 20 years), Director of FSI Solutions and Strategy at EMC, and former Managing Director of Financial Tradeware, a subsidiary of a French Investment Bank, providing buy-side trading systems.