London-based credit asset manager Channel Capital Advisors has taken on a new trade finance associate as it looks to grow its focus on trade finance and launch new funds in this space.

Pouya Jafari joins Channel from Wells Fargo, where he was a credit analyst for two years. Before that he worked as an analyst at AIG. He is also the founder of tradeXplain, a new educational trade finance website.

At Channel, Jafari is responsible for the origination, structuring, and risk analysis of trade finance investment opportunities and reports to Paul Wilson, Channel’s chief investment officer.

Speaking to GTR, Wilson says that the company is accelerating its growth as it sees a “huge demand” from investors for trade finance.

Channel Capital Advisors was founded in 2006 as a credit derivative investment company, and has been focusing specifically on trade finance since 2013. It launched its first trade finance fund in July this year. Although that was a sharia-compliant trade finance fund, Wilson says that Channel will be launching other – more conventional – funds in the next few months.

“We’ll have more funds to come, but we’ve got our hands full with this one at the moment,” says Wilson. “That’s what Pouya has been brought on to help us with – and we’re very excited that he’s joining and bringing his enthusiasm and experience of trade finance.”

Channel’s trade finance funds form part of the third pillar of the company’s offerings.

The first pillar is Channel’s debt products business, which provides working capital facilities, including trade receivables, inventory and supply chain finance, for large companies, sold to investors in the form of securities.

The second pillar, which went live two years ago, is an invoice factoring platform called Togather Finance. Initially focused on the Netherlands, but having subsequently expanded to other EU countries, the platform finances working capital requirements of small and medium-sized enterprises.

According to Wilson, Channel is seeing an opportunity for growth across all three pillars of its business.

At a time of increased investor interest in trade finance as an asset class, he explains that the company’s competitive edge is twofold: “We’re aiming at more high volume, lower risk and slightly lower return assets to enter the fund.” This, he believes, is a niche area for asset managers.

“Secondly, we have this huge machine, our securitisation business, our first pillar. So every time we do a new securitisation deal, which typically have a minimum size of US$50mn, and frequently multiples of that, we’ll take a little piece of that deal for our fund. So not only is it a business in its own right, it’s also an origination channel for our funds. That’s a significant USP.”