Saturday, July 9, 2022

CBN RT200 FX: How Bankers Can Attract More Export Customers

I have received so many calls from different bankers in recent times and what they are asking for is that I should assist them with export customers. They appear so desperate that they are ready to do whatever is legitimately necessary to get these customers. Then I will make recommendations to them on the what they need to begin to do I noticed one thing among all of them, they all become cold in their quest to get export customers. This is because they are used to the old ways of getting customers which involves simply offering an attractive financing proposal. What many bankers do not realize is that, customers are evolving and this is making them to demand beyond the traditional services that most bank will usually render to their customers. 


So, what should bankers be doing in order to attract more export customers to their banks? They need to begin to spend more energy, time and money to acquire skills needed to solve exporter’s problems and this will make most exporters (particularly the MSMEs) to be attractive to their banks. If the goal is to get the foreign exchange export proceeds, income and deposits from the exporters, then create value for them. To create this value for the export customers you must solve their problems, to solve their problems (through advisory services) then you need to become competent  (proven record of performance), to be competent, you need to acquire skills and to acquire skills you need to learn through training and certification programmes. In this regard I will recommend that you consider Certified Global Trade Management Professional from the American Institutes of Extended Studies (click here to download the brochure). 


One of errors bankers make in marketing trade customers is not focusing on solutions to the trade customer’s challenges. A banker that has been able to identify the challenges of export trade and acquires skills to solve these problems for them is at an advantage over those that cannot provide such solutions. Also, because a number of bankers do not know the pain points of exporters, they assume that the only problem is financing and therefore end up selling to them their financing products or services and for many new exporters this is a wrong service. Another error that bankers make in selling to export trade customers is marketing the pedigree of their bank. Focussing on how big your bank is, how many branches you have, your balance sheet size and profitability and how long you have being in existence is none of the business of the export customers. What he is interested in is how your bank help me to solve his business problems which must be beyond financing. 


It is also very important to note that focussing on existing export customers will not take the bankers anywhere in the achievement of their goal under the RT200 FX programme. This is because the total number of exporters available in Nigeria who are actively exporting as at 2021 is just about 1,500 businesses. Bankers therefore need to begin to think creatively by encouraging and supporting the commencement of export businesses by companies that are in desperate need of foreign exchange. There are businesses that are very hungry for foreign exchange. They will do anything possible to get dollars, euros and pounds in order to keep their businesses afloat. Chief among these set of businesses are the importers of goods and services. They (particularly the importers of goods) have so much Naira to purchase foreign exchange in order to pay their import bills. They are partially ready for export business because their knowledge of importation of goods already exposed them to documentation and payment methods in international trade. This therefore makes it easy for them to setup a special purpose vehicle to do export business in order to generate foreign exchange to fund their import business. 


The fact there are a lot of businesses that are planning to go into export business to generate their foreign exchange has made the need for banks to render advisory services to become highly imperative. This is because these new entrants into export business needs support services to enable them get started and make it a success. This therefore gives a bank that have developed export desk that renders support services to exporters a competitive advantage over their peers in the industry. What makes lack of support service a great weakness in a bank as far as marketing export customers are concerned is the fact that they are unable to solve exporter’s problems. This means they will not be able to create value for export customers and consequently they will be unable to attract the export customers to give them the much desired income and deposits in foreign exchange.


As a sales person, your effectiveness is seen in being able to understand the customer’s needs and then prescribe which of your solutions will be able to solve the customer’s problems. This question must be asked in such a manner that it enables the exporter to talk about other areas of challenges beyond financing needs. In asking exporters these questions as a banker, you will realize that their problems are much more than just funding to grow their businesses. Being able to ask the right questions to identify the exporter’s problems and also solve these problems through export business support and advisory services helps the banker to create value for the export customers. This will consequently leads to attracting customers to the bank and thereby helping the bank to grow its foreign exchange deposits from the export proceeds of the customers.


Finally, it is important to state that there are few exporters in Nigeria and all of them are being chased by different banks that want their export transactions. To win in this competition for exporters, a bank and its staff needs to go beyond the traditional service of just financing the export customers to rendering support services to solve the exporter’s problem. This should be the main conversation in their marketing communication and in selling the value they create to the export customers. This is what will create a sustainable competitive advantage over the current fierce competition to get export proceeds in the industry. 


For the love of Nigeria, Africa and Mankind   

Bamidele Ayemibo (  

Lead Consultant, 3T Impex Trade Academy


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