Forging a New Path

Tractors in a Field

Trade is the beating heart of the world’s economies, but trading is not always easy. Finding the money to keep businesses working and the money flowing is essential, and a key part of that process are companies like SCCF Structured Commodity & Corporate Finance SA. In Corporate Vision’s ongoing series on Corporate Excellence, SCCF was named the Most Outstanding SME Trade Finance Provider – 2021. We dig a little deeper to see just how they did it.

When Dimitri Rusca founded SCCF in 2004, his aim was to bring together some of the best talent in the industry and create a space where they could thrive. Over the last fifteen years, he has seen the business grow from its humble beginnings into an international organisation that plays a key part in the operation of many SMEs around the world. Now, as bigger banks examine his success, we consider how it all began.

SCCF has always had a simple ambition, namely, to raise financing for SMEs. The firm offers smaller businesses an impressive selection of services. While most banking firms will target large corporations, the focus on SMEs sets the team apart. Many competitors in the market simply don’t consider the needs of these firms, which leaves the field open for the SCCF team to strike.

Many of these businesses are on a smaller scale, with transactions that average between $2 and 3 million. It’s these transactions that are the focus of the business, and this approach has shielded the team from many of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. While trade has slowed, there is a need for goods to be transported from one place to another in spite of the logistical difficulties. The team have mainly been active in the production, export, import or distribution of natural resources throughout the world, providing a reliable source of income since the firm’s inception.

That said, 2020 was a fascinating time for global trade, presenting a series of unusual challenges and difficulties for firms of all sorts. The tail-end of the US-China trade war and the impact of the pandemic were just two of these, and while these trials have confounded many, it has only inspired the SCCF team to take advantage of the opportunities that have presented themselves.

The future of the firm is one that will see Dimitri Rusca transform the business into something even more independent, leveraging the years of experience that his talented team bring with them. He wants to create a modern Swiss merchant bank with a banking license on the horizon and a platform where all of the company’s IT needs can be met. The platform already exists, and the license has already been applied for. The hope is to create a situation where the SCCF team will be able to have a significant advantage over the competition, fulfilling its initial role of disrupting the status quo within the industry.

Small businesses continue to be at the heart of SCCF and finding ways of disrupting the monopolies of the big names of industry will be key to their success. As the team behind SCCF become more powerful within the industry, they will be able to assist in ensuring that SMEs are not left behind and have the same potential as their larger rivals. Part of the benefit of becoming a merchant bank is that the team will not have to work closely with other banks on laborious paperwork. Instead, the team will be able to receive and hand out letters of credits or offer cash on demand directly. By removing the middlemen, it will be possible to streamline the process for clients and enable SMEs to thrive on a global scale.

The digital platform, ArgosLogistic, has been in development for the last two years and is a major achievement for the team. The team behind the project has spent a great deal of time developing ways of enhancing the documentation involved in commodity trade finance. By working digitally, it’s easier to match datasets for better analysis of decisions. It also reflects the worldwide nature of the trade finance industry, with a secured connection for all.

At the centre of this data-driven endeavor is a focus on security. In this case, it has come from the recent development of blockchain. This technology could reduce costs in the trade finance business by as much as 50 % and has already saved SCCF a great deal of money when it comes to making its data as secure as possible. While the platform has only just opened, it already has a number of different users. This is sure to rise as people turn to SCCF in the coming months and years to come.

Of course, none of this progress would be possible without the guidance and leadership of the SCCF team. This consists of former senior commodities professionals, previously members of management of large international banks and major commodity merchant houses. In all, SCCF has over two-hundred years of experience in Structured Commodity Trade Finance to pass onto its customers.

The risk management team is a key part of the firm’s success over the years, and has enabled its planned expansion in 2021. They include former BNP Paribas and Société Générale managers who personally assess all risks. With over forty years of experience in risk management, debt recovery and insurance, there are few finer to ensure that the right decision is made on behalf of the company and the client.

Over the course of the firm’s operation, the team has been proud to build an inspiring and diverse portfolio of clients. With increasing demand for alternative funding, following the imposition of the Basel III restrictions, SCCF has developed a crowd lending platform that allows potential lenders to meet the financial needs of the borrowers.

Key to this has been the development of the most sophisticated and rigorous selection criteria on the market. This carefully calibrated analysis system takes millions of datapoints and scientifically determines the risk of each project. With minimal bias, it is possible to make informed decisions that leads to greater success for all involved. For borrowers, the result is easily accessible financing with no hidden costs, while lenders gain attractive loans, low failure rates and insurance on their money.

When looking at SCCF, you aren’t just looking at a part of the trade finance industry. You’re looking an innovative force which is going to change the shape of the sector in time. Their work is focused on SMEs but impacts larger organizations and big corporate structures too. The team has earned the title of Most Outstanding SME Trade Finance Provider not by doing what others do, but by forging its own path. It’s a path that has led, so far, to tremendous success.

For more information, please contact Dimitri Rusca via email: [email protected]