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Euromoney Trade Finance survey 2011: Citi – in the right place at the right time

Citi, which has once again been ranked first globally in Euromoney’s trade finance survey (with almost double the number of points as second placed Deutsche Bank), dominates the industry.

It hasn’t always been this way, though, according to John Ahearn, global head of trade finance at Citi. "There was a time when Citi didn’t sufficiently emphasize trade finance," he says. "Now we’re punching our weight in terms of products, following heavy investment in technology and expertise – we hired a lot of people from rival banks. It’s paying off in terms of client recognition."

Ahearn believes that Citi’s current omnipotence in trade finance derives from a handful of simple differentiators. Perhaps the most important of these, especially given the changes in trade flows in the past two years, is market presence. "Our competitors simply don’t have the same infrastructure as Citi," he explains. "To capture growing south-south trade flows you need to be present in scale in those countries. We are already there while some other banks are having to think about how they can build that presence."

A second differentiator is investment in technology and product capability – Global Transaction Services, of which treasury and trade solutions is part, spends about $1 billion a year on technology.

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