The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is expanding its Trade Facilitation Programme (TFP) team with the hire of Olga Kompaniets as a principal banker, as the bank faces record-breaking demand for financing due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Based in London and reporting to TFP head Rudolf Putz, Kompaniets joins from insurance giant AIG, where she was a senior underwriter and global business development manager for trade and supply chain finance.

Prior to joining AIG, she spent around 18 months at the Berne Union as associate director responsible for managing its short term credit insurance committee. She previously held various trade finance origination roles at Barclays and Lloyds Banking Group, as well as a credit role at Commerzbank.

Her appointment comes as the EBRD responds to unprecedented calls for trade finance support. In March, the bank delivered a record €385.6mn in trade finance across 144 transactions, only to break that record again the following month, when financing topped €500mn for the first time.

“The volume of trade finance business EBRD TFP has supported since January to August is in excess of €2bn,” Kompaniets tells GTR. “That’s already at the level for the whole of 2019, and we’re only talking about the first eight months of the year.

“We expect that to continue in line with the crisis, and thankfully, the team is expanding to continue offering support at times when it’s needed the most.”

The EBRD also agreed a €21bn “solidarity package” shortly after the crisis, which Kompaniets says has the TFP at its core.

“It is in crisis times that you can make the most impact on the world under the EBRD TFP umbrella,” she adds. “This is the time when risk-taking capacity in the private trade finance market declines, and hence the time when EBRD TFP capacity in the countries we support is in the highest demand.

“It’s therefore a great time to join the EBRD TFP and to bring my commercial experience to the team.”

The EBRD has previously said the pandemic initially left companies wary of paying for goods in advance in case those goods did not arrive. As a result, demand rose for letters of credit or guarantees, and by extension, for the bank’s support.

Kompaniets’ responsibilities include country coverage, managing relationships and overseeing operations with partner banks, international confirming banks and co-financing partners. She is also expected to provide technical assistance and training to EBRD partner banks, to contribute to policy dialogue in countries of cover, and to support marketing and public relations work.

She will also draw on her commercial trade finance experience to help the TFP develop new products, as well as enhance existing processes and co-financing arrangements.