The Role Of Collateral Managers In Trade Finance

Collateral management firms are becoming increasingly important within trade finance. Collateral managers basically “look after” collateral on behalf of a lender financing goods. By using a collateral manager, the lender can make sure that goods, such as commodities, for example, are being controlled in such a way that if anything goes wrong with the loan, such as the borrower defaulting on payments, then the bank can get its hands on the goods which are the subject of the loan, and sell them to recover monies lent. Leading international collateral management companies serve a growing international market for structured trade finance, wherein money is lent based on the value of the underlying goods, rather than on the balance sheet of the borrower.

Notwithstanding the fact that most bankers, borrowers and warehousemen say they find collateral management “just too expensive’ their desire to use the services of collateral management companies is increasing. In the absence of totally secure physical commodity storage facilities and resulting from the risks in moving commodities about, banks are obliged to find other structures for protection against physical risks. The collateral management
agreement, or CMA, offered by a number of global firms, offers one such solution.

The CMA is a tripartite arrangement between the banker, the borrower and the collateral manager and it is important to remember the CMA is a bespoke agreement. This means it can be time-consuming and expensive. The CMA is designed uniquely for each transaction and the collateral manager will bargain for fees – for the transaction itself, and for participants in the commodity system. Elsewhere in this book you can read in detail about collateral management, but the key influence collateral managers have on the system is that they:

o Oblige an understanding, through their agreements, among borrowers
of the risks faced by lenders.

o Impose a system on warehouses to comply with rigorous standards
(particularly important in developing countries).

o Manage issues of quality and provide value-added services for
quality/other considerations.

o Define, through the CMA, complex issues such as commingling and lien
over commingled goods.

o Issue non-negotiable warehouse receipts

o Impose controls through the legal discipline of the CMA

o Impose controls on-the-ground discipline as the commodity moves
through the supply chain

o Provide insurance

Some collateral managers make a play of the role of their global insurance cover. There are smaller collateral management firms who depend on this cover, possibly because their balance sheets are not large enough to provide comfort for the bank in the event of a large-scale default. The most efficient collateral managers in the developing world are those who are able to offer local services, make local decisions and sign the CMA’s without
recourse to the HQ in Europe, or elsewhere.

Collateral management is an increasingly important tool in the armoury of any trade financier. The demand for collateral management is increasing and the use CMAs is becoming an important and regular tool for the structured trade financiers right across the planet.

For more information about collateral management, CMAs or structured trade finance, contact Dan Day-Robinson at Day Robinson International in the UK.

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