Stefan Butler, former head of trade finance at Commonwealth Trade Bank, has launched Resilient International Solutions, a boutique trade finance advisory business, following the UK-based trade finance bank’s closure earlier this month.

Butler joined Commonwealth Trade Bank in November last year, seven months after the bank’s creation. However, in a statement on May 1 citing “an environment of considerable economic and financial uncertainty”, the bank’s board and management team said it had decided to undertake a “solvent wind-down”, with 35 job losses – including Butler’s.

“I was proud to be the head of trade finance at Commonwealth Trade Bank. It was a great team and I was really looking forward to the opportunity. One of the key reasons for joining was the need to support funding in the SME space. However it was not to be, but that hasn’t diminished my desire and passion to try and fulfil the needs of SME importers and exporters,” Butler tells GTR.

Butler says he made the decision to launch the new venture as he believes SMEs in particular will need additional support in getting access to trade finance against the backdrop of straitened economic times amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I have a large portfolio of clients and 20 years of banking knowledge in trade and commodities, as well as relationships in the banking, non-banking and insurance sectors,” he says. “My aim is to leverage this to enable small businesses to export their way out of the crisis once lockdown lifts.”

He explains that Resilient International Solutions will act as a trade finance broker for UK, European and emerging markets clients, supporting the structuring and placement of deals with financiers. “There is a lack of funding available to SMEs because they typically do not meet the funding criteria of some of the larger banks, while some of the smaller lenders often find it difficult to manage the global risks. We will sit between the two sides to get the lender comfortable and get the funding that SMEs need so they can perform their cross-border activities and manage their relationship with their suppliers and buyers,” he says.

Having only been launched a matter of days ago, Resilient International Solutions is currently a one-person operation, but Butler says he is in talks with both individuals and other firms to join or partner with the company.