Excellence Awards 2017

Following a year of volatility, innovation and uncertainty, the Trade Finance Excellence Awards 2017 by TFG focus on those who have demonstrated exceptional performance amidst a challenging climate.

Trade Finance Excellence Awards 2017

Trade Finance Global Excellence Awards are totally independent, judged by a panel of leading experts.

They are presented each year, recognising outstanding companies contributing to the growth of international trade.

The TFG Excellence Awards recognised exceptional companies and candidates making great leaps in driving global trade, shipping and the wider transportation sector. This allows SMEs to trade and export internationally, a market worth $3tn USD per year. The sector is sometimes hidden away from the spotlight; but is vital in the world of international trade and invoice finance.

Tradefinanceglobal.com editor James Sinclair, said: “Trade as a whole needs to be advanced, both in financing and education. The sector will only grow by finding the best talent and promoting the most appropriate financing and logistics solutions. We understand that the sector does not simply stop with the financing side, but needs to be supported and advanced by looking at many areas.”

“We were proud to nominate winners across new and improved categories this year. It’s been enjoyable for the judging panel to look at leaders in the different facets of the sector, along with independent reviews, speaking to category experts, and reviewing websites.”

About Trade Finance Global

Trade Finance Global assists companies with debt finance. While we can access many traditional forms of finance, we specialise in alternative finance and more complex funding structures.

At Trade Finance Global we think that in order to create the correct financing package; a fundamental grasp of the business is key. By understanding the history and growth potential of your business, we are effectively able to partner with you for long term growth.

Find out more here.


Best Funders and Lenders

Best Trade Finance Company


Andrew Dixon

Aldermore funds purchases for SMEs so they can grow their business.

We were impressed with Aldermore by their move from receivables finance; thus completing the trade cycle for importers. Their presence in the market has grown since 2014 and it is an innovative solution introduced at this life cycle point by a challenger bank.

What were your recent successes?

“The Specialist Finance division of Aldermore only launched in 2014. We have seen steady growth since then and year-on-year are helping ever greater numbers of SMEs. In particular we have received a positive response to the launch of our specialist working capital products focussed on specific types of businesses and industries; our Trade Finance product would fall into this category, as would our Construction Finance product which is proving very popular.”

What are your objectives in the short to medium term?

“To continue to support SMEs with funding solutions that are tailored to their specific needs and delivered with great service. We are continually developing our product range and are currently developing new working capital products that will enable us to help a greater range of small and medium-sized businesses in the future. We are also in the process of building out our digital capabilities to allow our customers and broker partners to interact with us through the channels that they prefer, be that offline or online.”

Andrew Dixon, Commercial Director – Specialist Finance, Aldermore

“I am proud to receive this award on behalf of the Bank and my team. The Specialist Finance team focuses on providing funding solutions to meet customer needs in niche markets, of which Trade Finance is one. This fits with Aldermore’s ethos of providing innovative products backed by high quality customer service.”

Where do you see the alternative finance sector headed and what is next for 2017?

“The alternative finance sector has seen strong growth over the past few years and we are positive about its prospects over the coming year. The SMEs we talk to are still keen to grow and have seen little in the way of an impact from the Brexit decision so the appetite for alternative finance remains.

At Aldermore, we have the potential to support many more SMEs who need access to additional funding. Our Trade Finance solutions can be used by SMEs who purchase domestically as well as importers so could be of assistance to many more businesses.

For Aldermore and all providers of alternative finance, the key challenge is getting the message out to businesses that we are here and ready to help them achieve their potential.”


Best Supply Chain Finance Company

Funding Circle

Samir Desai
Funding Circle

Funding Circle have had a greater presence across the supply chain. This due to the lowering of borrowing rates and ability to cater to a wider stable of companies. With increasing growth in origination numbers and the successful partnership continuing with the British Business Bank; we see the outlook as being very bright.

Recent successes

Funding Circle, the world’s leading lending platform focused exclusively on small business finance, very recently announced a further £82 million ($100 million) fund raise in equity capital. Led by Accel, the round saw participation from existing Funding Circle investors, including Baillie Gifford, DST Global, Index Ventures, Ribbit Capital, Rocket Internet, Sands Capital Ventures, Temasek and Union Square Ventures.

Samir Desai, CEO and co-founder, Funding Circle

“Funding Circle is changing the financial landscape for small businesses and investors globally, ensuring a better deal for everyone and helping to create a more sustainable and fairer economy. Today’s news is the next step on our journey to create a category-defining company that helps thousands of small businesses access finance and create jobs. Over the next 12 months, lending through the Funding Circle platform will create a further 50,000 new jobs, supporting economic growth in the UK, US and continental Europe.”

What’s next for Funding Circle?

The new investment follows significant growth at Funding Circle over the last 12 months. Globally, investors on the Funding Circle platform lent more than £1.1 billion to small businesses in 2016, with approximately £400 million lent in Q4 alone, a record amount for any SME direct lending platform. In addition, in Q4 Funding Circle UK recorded 90% year-on-year growth and reached profitability.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, said: “Funding Circle has become a real success story for British Fintech and news that it has attracted £80 million of investment is further evidence of the growing importance of this industry. This is another vote of confidence in a UK firm that plays an important role in our economy – helping businesses to grow and create jobs.”


Best Alternative Financier


Karteek Patel

Crowdstacker raise money via P2P lending for carefully selected businesses.

Crowdstacker have impressed us with the size of facilities and innovative structures that they use; as one of the first P2P FCA authorised lenders. The levels of sophistication along with clarity of the funding solutions they have created are refreshing. The popularity is shown by the increasing level of funds being invested by ISA investors.

What were your recent successes?

“Undoubtedly our biggest success of 2016 has been our Innovative Finance ISA. We were one of the first to attain full FCA authorisation in 2015, and remain one of only a few platforms that have this. This meant that we were also able to apply for an HMRC authorisation to offer an IFISA when it was launched in April 2016. Ours is one of the oldest on the market and we have seen huge levels of demand for it – we’re already attracting £1m investment per month from it.

All of our investments to date have either been over-subscribed or are near to completion. And we have a 0% default rate on the loans we offer.

We are also very proud that we continue to have excellent and collaborative working relationships with the businesses we raise money for.”

What are your objectives in the short to medium term?

“Our main focus is to continue to deliver finance for established businesses with great track records and an excellent management team. As well as offer lenders more opportunities to invest.

This will mean more businesses on our platform in the short-term, as well as different product offerings in the future. Our main focus is to continue to deliver finance for established businesses with great track records and an excellent management team. As well as offer lenders more opportunities to invest.

This will mean more businesses on our platform in the short-term, as well as different product offerings in the future.”

Karteek Patel, CEO, Crowdstacker

“Gaining approbation and recognition from our industry for the work we do is great for everyone in our team.

We work at the coal-face of business finance, helping businesses to grow, develop, diversify, and increase competitive advantage.

Seeing the successful deployment of funds to make this happen is of course gratifying, as is seeing the continued satisfaction of our lenders who enjoy excellent rates of return for the money they invest.

But getting an award like this gives us pause for thought to really appreciate how much we have achieved in our own industry. And there’s hopefully even more success to come.”

Where do you see the alternative finance sector headed and what is next for 2017?

“Alternative lending continues to grow in importance with more and more businesses looking to access finance for growth and development via non-traditional means. Despite this there remains a challenge to educate and inform decision makers about the variety of new financing methods that are out there, to inform choices.

As the terms of Brexit become clearer this year we expect to see increased demand for alternative finance from businesses looking to take advantage of new opportunities. As well as to ensure their positions in their respective markets through investing in key factors which drive growth and competitive advantage, from technology through to training.

We also expect to see continued changes in the alternative finance sector itself. The industry is not only maturing, but it is also at the forefront of financial and technological innovation. Both these factors mean that potentially rapid change is par for the course as we find new ways to challenge the traditional finance sector and deliver what businesses really need in a customer friendly and transparent way.”


Best Cash Flow Lender

Just Cash Flow PLC

John Davies
Just Cashflow

Just Cash Flow PLC partner with well run businesses providing fast, flexible financial help.

Just Cash Flow have launched an innovative Mastercard Prepaid Card for use as a cash flow tool for businesses, with a very clear message to the market.

This is also due to being one of the first alternative commercial lenders to become an Associate Member of the British Bankers’ Association, along with showing innovation in the MasterCard and mobile app space.

What were your recent successes?

“Helping an increasing number of SMEs invest and grow is our number one achievement. The successful combination of employing the latest FinTech alongside highly experienced business underwriters is proving to be a winning combination.

Another key focus has been on using FinTech to make it easier for time starved businesses to access the finance they need when it is convenient for them.

Finally, we have continued to play a leading role in promoting what is becoming a vibrant, varied and well established alternative finance sector in the UK.”

What are your objectives in the short to medium term?

“Maintaining our quality of delivery in a competitive market and constantly innovating with new products and services for our customers.

Increasing the number of companies we can support both in the UK and other European countries.”

John Davies, CEO, Just Cash Flow PLC

“We have been very fortunate at Just Cashflow PLC to win a number of awards for our products and services. It is very pleasing to know that our record for innovating in the alternative finance market particularly impressed the judges on this occasion. “

Where do you see the alternative finance sector headed and what is next for 2017?

“2017 will probably be a year of stagnation or very slow growth as uncertainty over Brexit, wider issues and turmoil in the European market and the U.S will make many companies nervous about their own ambitions and possibly play a waiting game – I hope I’m wrong.”


Disruptor in Mobile Banking


Craig Iley

Atom is a bank for businesses and for personal customers

Atom is of great interest to us, due to being the first UK bank focused on a mobile app. We were impressed by the simplicity of the message. The logical lifecycle makes sense from a structural point of view; building of tech, growing the savings base and then slowly moving into secured lending.

What were your recent successes?

“In the last year we’ve launched the UK’s newest bank with a unique App for savers, secured loans for business customers and more recently, mortgages for personal customers. We’re just getting started and in 2017 we’re launching a digital bridge for SME clients and we’re going to do a whole lot more!”

What are your objectives in the short to medium term?

“Our focus is to establish our brand and to create exceptional experiences both for businesses and for personal customers.”

Craig Iley, Managing Director – Business Banking, Atom

“We are delighted and honoured to receive this recognition. We are only at the beginning of our journey to change banking for good, for the better, for everyone.”

Where do you see the alternative finance sector headed and what is next for 2017?

“A bright future for alternative finance driven by:

  1. The inclusion of SMEs into the digital economy with connectivity being driven by accounting in the cloud
  2. The need for SMEs to submit tax returns electronically and more frequently
  3. Full implementation of the 2015 Small Business Employment and Enterprise Bill which will see more referrals
  4. MREL seeing mainstream banks reallocate capital away from SME lending”

Trade Finance Products and Services

Products or Services which drive trade and supply chain finance

Best Trade Finance Recruiter


Steve Hallam
Page Group

The way that PageGroup have captured the roles within the trade market and has expanded the range offered in both front and middle office functions is impressive. This is also true of the increasing diversity of banks and alternative funds that you work with.

PageGroup is one of the world’s best-known and well-respected professional recruitment consultancies.

What were your recent successes?

“With the highest ever headcount and the strongest balance sheet of all our competitors, 2016 has been another successful year for PageGroup. With record breaking quarters throughout the world, we’ve seen our number of promotions rise to 118 this year in the UK, and as well as investing further in training and management development, we’ve also invested in a new Global Finance System, which brings all of our finances together.”

What are your objectives in the short to medium term?

“PageGroup’s main focus for the next few years is to keep expanding and diversifying the business by industry sectors, disciplines and geography.

Our aim is to vary our activity and to reduce dependency on individual markets, which in turn will continue to increase our resilience as a business.”

Steve Hallam, Managing Director, Michael Page Banking & Financial Services

“After another successful year for PageGroup, we are thrilled to be recognised for our achievements and innovation in finance. We are all very proud of our accomplishments and positive results, and hope to see PageGroup grow even further this year.”

Where do you see the alternative finance sector headed and what is next for 2017?

“Alternative finance tends to respond quite well to any type of economic uncertainty – gains are made in volatile markets whilst investment managers tend to be more active where markets depreciate. Trade finance continues to make positive strides off the back of growth within emerging markets in comparison to more established economies. 2017 should be a good year for trade and alternative finance given the economic uncertainty globally.”


Best Foreign Exchange Provider



We see that the reach and presence of HIFX has grown since 2014; becoming increasingly prevalent in the corporate market. The brand has gained in visibility, trust and standing amongst the cross border trading community.

HiFX is one of the largest and best known international money transfer specialists in the UK with a reputation for consistently offering highly competitive, bank beating exchange rates to both private individuals and businesses alike.

Simon Griffin, Group CEO, HiFX

“We were able to support all of our clients during the day of the Referendum announcement, staying open and trading throughout the period in order to support customer demand. During the lead up and immediately post Referendum our clients required proactive insight during what was an uncertain time.”

Education and Publishers

The Leading Education and Publishers in Global Trade

Best Trade Finance Publisher


Shannon Manders

GTR is the world’s leading news source, publisher and event organiser for the global trade, commodity and export finance markets, with offices in London, Singapore and Rio de Janeiro.

The frequency, global reach and focus of articles along with complementary conferences allow GTR to offer a holistic product relating to the industry that can be relied on. The panel liked the factual and informative style of articles that are produced.

What were your recent successes?

Team: GTR has increased its global reach and coverage, and we now have editorial staff reporting from Asia, the UK and the Americas. I believe this provides the most comprehensive coverage of the trade finance market in the world.

Content: Over the past year, GTR has launched dedicated fintech and sustainability coverage (sections within the magazine): proving that we really are dedicated to delivering the most relevant content to our subscribers.

Finalist in The Drum Online Media Awards 2016 (Best business/finance news site): going head to head with Bloomberg (and 3 others in this category) as judged by a panel of leading journalists and editors.

Successful launch of GTR Women in Trade Finance (with events in London and NYC), which brings together industry figures of all levels to discuss how to improve gender equality in the industry.

Events: GTR Asia Trade Finance Week successfully attracted close to 1,000 delegates last year. And this year we are launching pioneering events in markets such as Iran.”

What are your objectives in the short to medium term?

“To continue to provide the leading analysis and overview of the global trade, commodity and export finance markets.”

Shannon Manders, Editorial Director, GTR

“GTR has come to be seen as the pre-eminent publication in the world of trade finance, and we’re appreciative of the fact that we’re now starting to pick up awards to recognise this. We thank TFG for the recognition!”

Where do you see the alternative finance sector headed and what is next for 2017?

“Over the last year, the world of trade has been rife with talk of disruption, and this is set to continue into 2017.

Whether it’s mobile banking, new payment technologies, auction-based online marketplaces or blockchain, the financial sector has its work cut out for it when it comes to staying on top of disruptive technology.

Technology aside, banks are also having to deal with the likes of the GAFAs (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon) of the world: firms that are building out their own trade finance capabilities.

Other wake-up calls for trade and trade finance have come in the form of geopolitical challenges (think Brexit and Trump), increased regulation, and the commodity price slump, among others. It’s likely to be a challenging year for traditional players.”


Best Trade Education Provider


Alan Bracken

ABTS provides in house and on line international trade training.

We were impressed with the simple, straightforward and clear way that ABTS present their course. The course covers vital introductory elements, such as transportation types, payment mechanisms and Incoterms.

What were your recent successes?

“We established a training centre in China which is very successful. Our new mentoring service is helping British entrepreneurs establish a foothold in the global market.”

What are your objectives in the short to medium term?

“To establish new training centres in Turkey. To develop our mentoring service worldwide. To open a new London based training centre late 2017.”

Alan Bracken, Partner, ABTS Training Services

“Unbelievable!!! We are very proud to be recognised for our Hard work and vision. We feel honoured.”

Where do you see the alternative finance sector headed and what is next for 2017?

“We are in very uncertain times with our exit from the EU. We must now seek new markets and establish a positive approach to world trade. We will face very stiff competition in an open Global market.”


Innovators and Disruptors of Trade Finance

Best Shipping Company


Ryan Petersen

Flexport is a tech–enabled customs broker and freight forwarder.

We were impressed by the way that Flexport has tackled the transport market; where there is historically primitive technology. It is a smart solution that has opened up the management of the supply chain in a simple and clear way.

What were your recent successes?

“In 2016, we opened offices in Amsterdam, New York, and Hong Kong. Our rapid growth in these regions will mirror that of our San Francisco headquarters, and we expect to open offices in additional countries so our sales and operations squads can be closer to customers and supply chain partners.

In order to fund this international growth, we raised a Series B round of $65 million with participation from existing Flexport investors including Founders Fund, Bloomberg Beta, Felicis Ventures, First Round Capital, Susa Ventures, Yuri Milner, and others. This shows our supporters are doubling down on our vision for the future of freight forwarding.

We’ve also been recognized as one of the “Best Entrepreneurial Companies in America” with exceptional impact, innovation, growth, and leadership by Entrepreneur magazine’s 2016 Entrepreneur360 List.”

What are your objectives in the short to medium term?

“Our vision is to build the operating system for global trade, creating a seamless web of global commerce. It’s an immensely complex undertaking, and one that will take many years to achieve, but we are well on our way. We’ve found a repeatable path to generate profitable revenue, so our main focus now is patiently integrating more nodes in the network and using software to steadily improve all the complex processes of global trade transactions.”

Ryan Petersen, CEO and founder, Flexport

“Flexport’s mission is to fix the user experience in global trade, and making change requires an open mind to change how things are done. We’re excited to be recognized by industry members who also value technology’s role in bringing global trade to the modern era.”

Where do you see the alternative finance sector headed and what is next for 2017?

“Global trade is good for the world and the world needs more of it. However, trade faces a major challenge: it’s still much too difficult to do. The current market is fragmented and the trade industry has traditionally refrained from incorporating technological advancements. As a result, today there are still way too many manual processes, too much paperwork, too many phone calls, too many confusing rules, and almost no modern tech systems and data interchange standards. This year, we will see a greater movement toward technology driven solutions to simplifying trade. Bright minds in logistics will start to expect to see more data to drive their decision making and they’ll also want more visibility out of their supply chain.”

Trade Finance Excellence Awards 2017

About the Author

Deepesh Patel is Editorial Director at Trade Finance Global (TFG). In this role, Deepesh leads efforts in developing TFG’s brand, relationships and strategic direction in key markets, including the UK, US, Singapore, Dubai and Hong Kong.

Deepesh regularly chairs and speaks at international industry events with the WTO, BCR, Excred, TXF, The Economist and Reuters, as well as industry associations including ICC, FCI, ITFA, ICISA and BAFT.

Deepesh is the host of the ‘Trade Finance Talks’ podcast and ‘Trade Finance Talks TV’. He is co-author of ‘Blockchain for Trade: A Reality Check’ with the ICC and the WTO, alongside other industry research.

In addition to his work at TFG, Deepesh is a Strategic Advisor for WOA, and works closely with ITFA. He also sits on the Fintech Working Group of the Standardised Trust.

Prior to TFG, Deepesh worked at Travelex where he was responsible for the cards business and the Travelex Money app in Europe, NAM, UK and Brazil. Deepesh is Chair of Governors and co-opted LA Governor of the Wyvern Federation, which has responsibility for 5 primary schools in South London.

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