International Banking Services

The primary consumers of International Banking services were governments, large corporations and very wealthy individuals who wanted to invest in foreign countries for the purpose of helping the developing country as well as getting a favorable return on their investments. In order to conduct business in foreign countries, there were local and foreign government regulations and tax laws that had to be observed and complied with. The International Banking Services facilitated these transactions by working with the American counterpart while their representative worked with the authorities and investors in foreign countries. Although the foreign entities were “American” they had to comply with banking regulations of their host countries. The process of conducting business was cumbersome. Often, documents had to be prepared for signatures, and then sent back and forth by courier for all parties to sign. Sometimes the process was delayed by the need of translations and other requirements. My duties were to prepare these documents including Letters of Credits and Signature Guarantees as needed.

International Banking, as an industry, was revolutionized with the advent of the World Wide Web and the information superhighway. I worked in the industry before the age of information and communication. Modern technology has eliminated much of the manual and physical labor of preparing documents and getting them to their overseas destinations. In fact, most common banking activities have been simplified with the use of computers and the Internet. For example, in the past corporations, governments or individuals desiring to conduct business in a foreign country had to do so through a bank with a presence in the country in which they wanted to conduct business. The bank would act on their behalf extending Letters of Credit or Loan Guarantees and other documents of assurance that the funds were available for the transaction. Therefore, the main role of International Banking Services was to act as financier and liaison between United States business sector and foreign ventures.

Letters of Credits were records of business arrangements between investors and the bank wherein the bank agrees to pay the provider of goods or services in a foreign country as soon as certain conditions were met. The investor then paid the bank. Usually, business transacted in this way was secure because the bank guaranteed payment based on their personal knowledge of the investor’s ability to repay the loan. Letters of Credit often had to be prepared, signed and deposited for safekeeping before a Guarantee was sent to the supplier or provider. The process took several days.

FUNDS TRANSFER & CONVERSION

International funds transfer and conversions, was revolutionized with the advent of the World Wide Web and the information superhighway. Modern technology has eliminated much of the manual and physical labor of preparing documents and getting them to their overseas destinations. In fact, most common banking activities have been simplified with the use of computers and the Internet. For example, in the past corporations, governments or individuals desiring to conduct business in a foreign country had to do so through a bank with a presence in the country in which they wanted to conduct business. The bank would act on their behalf extending Letters of Credit or Loan Guarantees and other documents of assurance that the funds were available for the transaction. Therefore, the main role of the bank in these transactions was to act as financier and liaison between United States business sector and foreign ventures.

The fact that funds could be wired or sent electronically is especially helpful to travelers and the number of people who maintain homes in different countries. The knowledge one acquires while traveling, negotiating and handling their affairs in other countries as well as handling their affairs at home from other countries is invaluable. In my personal travels I had many opportunities to put my knowledge of currency rates and conversions to practical use. I was able to convert U.S. Dollar to any foreign currency and back to U.S. Dollars. I learned that in order to receive a favorable exchange when purchasing foreign currency; it was necessary to watch both the U.S. Dollar and the local currency value. For example, one day the Swedish Crown (“Svenska Kronor”) was selling at 9,40 Skr to the U.S. $1. The previous day it sold at 8,20 Skr and the day before it was 6,70 Skr to the U.S. $1. Clearly, it was loosing value while the U.S. $ was growing stronger. I watched the changes in rate and bought at 10,10 SKr to the U.S. $1. Had I bought at 6,70 SKr, U.S. $100 would have gotten me 670,00 SKr, but at 10,10 Skr the same U.S. $100 got me 1.010. Skr. Whether I was converting to Dollars in Canada, Pounds in England, Krone in Danmark, Shekels in Israel, Pesos in Mexico, Dollars in Belize, Drachmas in Greece or Pesetas in Spain the knowledge I acquired at Chase has been invaluable.

Today with the use of the Internet and on-line banking these services are now at our fingertips. The consumer doesn’t even have to leave home to conduct multi-million dollar transactions in foreign countries. The mere fact that this has become common operating procedure in the world of business is an indication that the world of business is a global market that has replaced the glocal markets of past decades. To be considered as a participant in this industry requires knowledge as well as the quick accessibility to information.

My knowledge of International Banking Procedures was acquired while working as an Executive Secretary with a major banking institution from 1980 to 1985. I worked in the International Department (later changed to Capital and Development Projects) and provided administrative support to one Senior Vice President and three Vice Presidents. In this position I often worked with our overseas representatives, branches, affiliates and subsidiaries providing them with support as needed. I also worked with foreign national employees and expatriates both at home and abroad.

In the process of performing my duties, I acquired knowledge about the functions and operations of Commercial Banking with a concentration in International Banking. Of course much of this information may be obsolete in light of all the advancement that we’ve had during the last 2 decades in which case it would show how far we’ve come.

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