HSBC has named I-Mei Chan as head of portfolio management and distribution, global trade and receivables finance (GTRF) in Asia Pacific, as it seeks to strengthen its trade finance distribution capabilities in the region.

She replaces Kenneth Tay, who left the bank late last year.

Based in Singapore, Chan will report jointly to Ajay Sharma, regional head of GTRF, and Surath Sengupta, global head of portfolio management and distribution.

Chan joins HSBC from Deutsche Bank, where she worked for almost 15 years, most recently as regional head of distribution, credit solutions and trade finance.

“We have brought in a very senior banker with a great track record in the origination and distribution of trade finance,” says Sharma. “HSBC has been leading the charge to turn trade finance into an investible asset class, and I-Mei’s hire will help to extend our market leadership position.”

HSBC says its trade finance distribution volumes have grown 14-fold since 2015 to US$28bn. Last year, it teamed up with Allianz Global Investors (AllianzGI) to wrap trade finance assets originated by its GTRF business into notes, in what the bank calls the first trade finance securitisation initiative of its kind.

Trade finance securitisation is increasingly seen as a viable solution for closing the trade finance gap. At present, banks provide about US$10tn in trade finance each year to companies, while the secondary market for these assets is a paltry US$300bn, much of which comprises bilateral trading between banks.

“We are ramping up activity in the distribution space to service an unprecedented level of interest from institutional investors to buy and sell trade finance assets,” says Sharma. “The added liquidity will go a long way toward narrowing the trade finance gap, bringing benefits to the real economy by making trade finance more accessible to those who need it.”