PIT STOP launch calls for banks to equip staff with export skills and training

Fri 7 Dec 2012
Posted by: International Trade News
Trade News
The need for banks to invest in developing and training their relationship managers in exporting and international trade – in order to equip businesses with the best advice – has never been greater.

This was among the key calls to action at the launch of a pioneering PIT STOP quarterly review spearheaded by the Institute of Export and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.

The events in Birmingham, London and Manchester saw businesses and advisors debate the impact of the Chancellor’s autumn statement – with wide ranging issues for debate including the need to incentivise exporters to invest in new markets.

Reinforcing the IOE’s drive to promote Professionalism in International Trade (PIT), the sessions highlighted how exporters seek a greater understanding of the financial workings of international trade along with incentives such as tax breaks or holidays to help offset the major investment required to penetrate new markets.

A shortage of skills and training also remains a big concern with those taking part in Birmingham agreeing that the best option for training small and medium sized enterprises is cost effective short courses. In Manchester, attendees cited lack of training and skills in house as their second biggest challenge followed closely by lack of guidance and advice. Those taking part in London outlined how international trade was not deemed glamorous and is difficult to persuade people to study as a subject in its own right.

Additional issues sparking concern included the Aviation Policy paper not being launched until 2015 and confusion over whether it is mandatory to use grant funding for Online Market Introduction Service.

There was a mixed reaction overall on whether the current levels of Government support were adequate – and in Manchester attendees called for the UKTI website to signpost more clearly what is available for exporters as opposed to being a tool for capturing marketing data. There was likewise scepticism whether the Chancellor’s announcement of a 25 per cent increase in UKTI spend would benefit exporters or whether it was reversing the impact of a 33 per cent cut in the number of UKTI advisors.

Overall the funding issue dominated the agenda. In Manchester UK Export Finance was discussed and, although deemed a good service, attendees urged what they regarded as the ‘disjoint ‘between the banks and UK Export Finance to be resolved. While welcoming the news that Export Finance would receive a further £1.5 billion, they were uncertain how that would translate into real benefits.

Said Institute of Export Director General Lesley Batchelor: “Feedback from our first series of events highlighted that PIT STOP is an effective process for exporters at grass roots level to share common issues and provide calls to action that we can feed to the Government and the media – and which will further strengthen the IOE’s on-going lobbying drive for positive change.

“The debates have reinforced the urgency of addressing the lack of training and skills in-house as well as highlighting the need to equip relationship managers in banks with the training and expertise to support exporters and companies working in international trade.”