TC: Hello my name is Tim Conley and I’m the Global Communications officer at the International Chamber of Commerce – welcome to a day in life of Incoterms®. ICC is the international body that drafts and maintains the Incoterms® rules. As part of this series and in anticipation of the launch of Incoterms® 2020, we are going to sit down and talk with some of the users of the Incoterms® rules. On today’s episode I will be talking to Daniel Kok, the managing director of ICC Academy, the International Chamber of Commerce’s e-learning platform. Before taking over the reigns of ICC in 2016, Daniel worked for several prominent banks. With a launch of Incoterms® 2020 Daniel is now preparing to roll out the Incoterms® 2020 certificates, ICC’s official training program for the latest addition of Incoterms® rules.
TC: Daniel, what were you doing before you joined ICC Academy? Have you always been involved with education or were you working in another sector previously?
DK: Actually I started my career working in financial markets with global banks such as BNP, Chase, ABM and Citibank. Now I have sixteen years of experience of trading in foreign exchange markets, ranging from G7 to emerging markets, non-deliverable forward. So my range of experience then includes marketing, operations management, advisory. My last role when I was a banker was as a currency proprietary trader, trading in cash, forwards and option market. And by chance I had an opportunity to work with Thomson Reuters and I spent eight years with them in various leadership roles that include, head of business planning and operations of Solutions Sales Asia, as well as, head of client Training, Asean, Pacific and South Asia region. Then I spent a couple of years with Fitch before joining ICC Academy.
TC: And now your current role at ICC Academy, what is a typical day like for you?
DK: Currently I’m the managing director at the Academy responsible for the strategy as well as overseeing the day-to-day operations. My responsibilities at work, include enabling the business developing functions, working with partners, working with my production team so to understand what are the new programs or how to improve the existing programs, working with my technology team to see how we can best serve our customers, how do we leverage on all the different tools today to help our customer have a better learning experience.
TC: Tell me a bit more about the programs offered by the Academy, you just said that there are some new programs, some existing programs, what is the course of action like at ICC Academy?
DK: Good thing you asked that because we recently did a restructure. Basically, the ICC Academy program today is placed in three thematic themes trade finance, international business and regulation and compliance. Under the trade finance section we have two certifications, the global trade certificate and certified trade finance professional. The certified trade finance professional is an advanced program, that I’m proud to say has been gaining industry recognition and footprints and recently a good testimonial of success is that we have seen a number of global banks using these qualifications as part of their recruitment criteria into their senior team roles in trade finance. In the international business, we have rolled out actually quite a number of programs this year which include programs on the use of free trade agreement to increase efficiency and reduce production costs, we also have rolled out E-invoicing solutions for businesses – so we have rolled out quite a number. Under the regulation and compliance part, this year we have rolled out a program to help non-vehicular owners on the issues of bill ladings. As you’re maybe aware 95% faults actually come from fraudulent bill ladings. So it is important in this area that the issuance be educated and the banks be educated on how to identify these faults.
TC: Interesting, and I guess given the fact that the topic of today’s podcast is Incoterms®, could you tell me a bit more about ICC Academy’s Incoterms® 2020 certificate?
DK: I mean the ICC Academy Incoterms® 2020 certification provides a comprehensive working knowledge of the ICC international trading tools. Our online program helps candidates to these new rules, to basically understand the risk, the responsibility to conduct business more efficiently. Now this clause aims to build confidence among traders in choosing the right Incoterms® for the right conflictions. They’ll be able to advise colleagues on the executions and the logistics, and finance insurance personnel on how to efficiently proceed when they encounter the same confliction. So if I may illustrate, there are impacts on for example, insurance trade with the change of Incoterms®. For the banks it will impact the lender of credits, they will need to be aware why is the customer coming to them with this now new requirement and with the understanding of Incoterms® will help them to conduct business more efficiently.
TC: Obviously there are whole hosts of other programs out there, what would you say separates ICC Academy Incoterms® 2020 certificate from the pack? What makes it different?
DK: ICC Academy Incoterms® program is the only official Incoterms® program provided by ICC. This program is made by a leading international arbitrator Charles Patrizia, he is a special adviser of the official Incoterms® 2020 drafting groups. The group consists of nine experts which include ICC trade investment directors, from the users to commercial lawyers as well as international trade specialists. So with our task group and quality control, we are very proud and confident that the program has undergone multiple reviews. We know that the audience and the learners from the ICC Academy will pick up accurate knowledge, correct application of the rules. We are confident of the quality. On top of the programs that are the learning programs, ICC Incoterms® 2020 certificate also includes a unique comparison metric tools, now this enables, the user/the practitioner to analyze specific sections of various Incoterms® rules, to find the ones that suit their needs as well as their risk profile.
TC: You know as part of ICC’s latest campaign making technology work for all, the newest addition of the Incoterms® rules features a digital app and within this digital app users of the Incoterms® rules can directly contact officially registered trainers of Incoterms® 2020. Could you tell me a bit more about this process? How does someone become an officially registered Incoterms® 2020 trainer?
DK: There are a number of checks for someone to become an Incoterms® 2020 trainer. Firstly, they need to be normally invited in a national committee. The national committee obviously will do all the necessary checks into their background. Once nominated by the national committee, the trainer or rather the potential trainer, will need to then take the ICC Academy Incoterms® 2020 trainer exam. To pass the exam they will need a grade of at least 85%. There are sixty multiple choice questions which they need to complete in ninety minutes. These questions, these sixty questions, will cover the understanding and the application of the eleven Incoterms® rules, and each Incoterms® rule has actually ten sections – so that’s quite a big part. So this process will ensure that the trainer that is qualified will have the correct knowledge, understanding and application necessary for the student.
TC: It sounds like a very competitive and thorough process. Has anyone successfully achieved this status yet?
DK: We do, we have someone from ICC Mexico who have passed the exam. Sorry of the top of my head I don’t remember the name but I do know that he was nominated from ICC Mexico.
TC: Okay, that’s good to know that it is possible to pass. Moving on–
DK: *laughing* We don’t design the exam to fail, we design the exam to ensure that you know, people need to understand and know the correct application.
TC: Of course, of course. No, it’s good, it’s good. It’s a testament to the strength of ICC Academy. What are your future plans for the Academy? There’s been such a focus, I’m sure, on this Incoterms® 2020 certificate but are there any other big developments?
DK: We are working with a number of partners, one of them is, the Islamic Trade Finance Center. We will be developing our Islamic Trade Finance clause with them and this will be coming up in November. But even then for 2019, we had a good number of developments. We had something like five programs that we rolled out. Earlier mentioned, we rolled out the free trade agreement, we rolled out the correct issuance of bill lading, we had E-invoicing solutions, we are rolling out Incoterms® and recently we also rolled out microfinancing management cost. So if you think about it for the last eight months we have rolled out five e-learning programs, that’s almost 1 every 6 weeks we had a new program for our audiences. And in terms of technology we are working on improving our management dashboard that empowers the management itself to track and to also monitor their investments in terms of into their staff. We are working to improve the overall experience. In fact, I would be quite proud to say that at the Academy we are one of the few that take seriously the feedback from our customers. And then update our content, not just the upcoming content, but we also go back and update the previous, existing material to make it more accessible for the existing class. So we don’t just think forward, but we also update and improve upon our existing content.
TC: I mean that’s obviously hugely important for transparency and for also demonstrating to the public the caliber of the program. What type of people sign up for the courses at the Academy?
DK: We have people from multinational banks, we work with universities, such as SMU in Singapore, where our programs are part of their curriculum. We work with multinational organizations such as ADD, ATFC, the African Development Bank. Interestingly with the African Development Bank, we are supporting them in trade finance for women in Africa. Where we help to support the learning in this area and targeting women to empower them to do a career in trade finance. So we work with universities, we work with multilateral, we also work with banks itself. We are partners of the banks, we help them deal with what to tell who, we recently started to work with a number of multinationals in different areas like logistics, shipping, pharmaceuticals as well as agriculture.
TC: There’s a lot of partnerships that you just outlined but if someone just wanted to take the course at the Academy that’s obviously possible too. How would they go about registering for a course?
DK: I think today everyone has a mobile phone or they have some internet access, so we’re always available on our website. So if anyone is interested they can drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org our website will share with you all the details that I have mentioned. We have the three thematic areas, we have a demo section on the website where anyone looking to join us on their learning journey could have an idea of the experience that they will have and we provide sources from publications, from ICC itself, we work with partners such as WCF as well to share knowledge.
TC: That’s great. I hope that people listening out there would reach out and contact if they’re interested.
DK: I do thank you for the session. I think this has been a quite enjoyable discussion.
TC: Great, well thanks again Daniel. I appreciate it.