Trade finance

Interview with Ralf Storz, LBBW

The Head of Trade Finance advises corporates, SMEs and small companies in various sectors on international business. This variety is exciting every day for Ralf Storz. Read more in the interview.

Being an expert in trade finance, Ralf Storz has a strong focus on cooperation and partnerships. We talked to him about fruitful customer relations and his relationship with the German Centres. Another interview of the #peopleinournetwork series.

Ralf, you head a team of specalist advisors that support LBBW’s corporate customers in their global business. What is special about your current position?

Everything! I am part of an international trade finance team that consists of the colleagues here in Germany as well as in India, China, Uzbekistan, Brazil and many other countries, where LBBW runs branches, representative offices and/or German Centres.

In my role, I accompany our customer’s export and import operations. We support them by managing the risks of their international supply chains. Understanding our clients businesses and needs  is exciting and I am happy that large corporates as well as medium-sized and small companies choose LBBW as their partner for international business.

Do you remember the first time you connected with a German Centre?

A customer told me about his struggles with his business partner and he wondered how he could find a reliable law firm. I linked him up with the German Centre. They have broad networks and know the people that do a good job. The solution had nothing to do with the usual banking services, but as we have the German Centres, LBBW can provide that.

Please answer as short as possible: What is German Centre for you?

A harbour and a hub.

A harbour, because you have a safe place where you talk with people, who understand how a market works. And a hub, because it is the place where you find offices, information, networks, and a like-minded community. In a German Centre, you have a 360 degree view that allows you to avoid pitfalls instead of learning the hard way.

If you think about Germany, what comes to your mind spontaneously?

Stability and change.
We have a stable economy with high reliability. At the same time, we are facing a big change, which means: we need to let go of that stability and evolve.

What do your international customers pay attention to?

The future of our trade finance customers is still in foreign markets! But they are currently focusing on reducing dependencies and are producing, buying or selling in more countries than before. Especially regarding supply-chains, they are trying to avoid single-stores and to have several suppliers. Additionally, stock keeping is becoming more attractive.

What are the game changers in international business?

The first things that come to my mind are digitalization and ESG. In addition to that I would like to mention the significant changes in globalisation that have consquences for international business. You need to continuously refine your business model.

About Ralf Storz

Ralf Storz has been involved with international business for 30 years now. Previous to his current role as Head of Trade Finance, he occupied several positions in the LBBW Group, e.g. at SüdLeasing (including a stint in the US), in Large Corporates and as Department Head of UK regional business.

His focus is on dealing with each other fairly in a spirit of partnerships, regardless of whether this is with clients or colleagues.
Whenever Ralf is not in business, you may find him biking or skiing in the mountains. He loves well-crafted rock music, best played loudly –or even by himself.

After a long working day. What is your favourite place?

That depends on the mood I am in, so it will be either sofa or mountainbike.

Which advice can you give a company that wants to start in a new market?

Make use of the German Centres! It is a door-opener and you will benefit from the community and networks. If you will not be there, you will miss a lot. It is not any office building, it is the German Centre.

Last questions: What does success mean to you?

Happy customers. Everything else comes by itself.

Thank you, Ralf Storz!

About LBBW

Landesbank Baden-Württemberg (LBBW) is a medium-sized universal bank and one of the world’s leading banks for export finance. In its international business, LBBW supports its customers worldwide in subsidiaries, branches and representative offices with country expertise, market know-