The head of U.S. Bank Global Banking talks about the value of change and highlights opportunities for buyers and sellers as we enter a new phase of everyday life.
After working in seven different countries – and now living 9,000 miles from home – Dan Son sees change as a constant and familiar part of his life.
Born in Korea, a citizen of Australia, and now a resident of Charlotte, North Carolina, Son brings a distinctly international mindset to his role as head of Global Banking for U.S. Bank.
“So much of my life has been about the moment I’ve been in,” he said. “From owning a trading company in Panama to calling on the world’s largest trading companies while I was working in Hong Kong — it’s all been about luck and timing. I’ve always been right in the thick of it.”
Son attributes his ability to acclimate quickly to his formative years in Sydney.
“Australians tend to see the world as an opportunity for adventure. You get on a ship or a plane and explore…and bring back that experience with you. You embrace change and get to something better.”
Adversity as a catalyst for change: supply-chain challenges during a global pandemic
“Throughout COVID, we’ve seen how important the trade industry is to the economy, to large and small businesses, and to everyday life,” said Son. “Our team focuses on trade finance – targeted programs and products that support global trade and supply-chain financing. We know how essential these solutions are – and how resilient they can be, even when they’re stressed by a once-in-a-century event.
“Look at car manufacturers,” he explained. “New car sales are being impacted by record-low inventories of semi-conductor chips. What’s contributing to the shortage? Cloud technology, which was already on the rise and has been further fueled by pandemic-related demand for devices, such as computers, TVs, and medical equipment. So even though one sector may be facing challenges, the global semiconductor industry is on pace to have record numbers in 2022. The difference – and we’re seeing this in other sectors, as well – is trade finance.”
Son says market forces and innovation will eventually correct supply-chain disruptions, but buyers and sellers can take advantage of working-capital programs today to successfully navigate the current environment.
“The beauty of Supply Chain Financing and Receivables Financing is that they’re fundamentally designed to create a win-win situation,” Son continued. “Buyers can extend their payment terms to enhance cashflow and manage procurement levels. Suppliers can shorten the time they get paid so they can put cashflow into increasing or re-adjusting production flow.
“The programs have additional benefits. They enhance relationships (leading to higher sales for our clients), improve supplier relationships, and lower supply-chain costs by passing on the lower cost of credit for a highly rated buyer to suppliers.
“Real-world impacts are why I love this business. It’s not just paper money. There’s actual economic value, including more opportunities for diverse suppliers to level the playing field and grow through working-capital programs. Trade is all about the end users – you and me. It can’t get any more real.”
Thinking beyond the pandemic: what’s next
Son says change is always the next big thing. “Whether it’s globalism, regionalism, mass commercialization of emerging technologies, or an acceleration of new digital innovation, we have to be ready to adapt and embrace the changing landscape to better serve the current and changing needs of our clients.
“The lesson of the pandemic – and, really, the experience of my career – has been that change is an opportunity to be better. To be agile, creative, and open minded,” said Son. “We bring that to our clients every day, no matter their needs or where in the world their business takes them.”
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