TFPD_09: The UCP 600 and ISBP are impossible books to read – part 2 of 2

Trade Finance Paradigm #9: The UCP 600 and ISBP are impossible books to read – part 2 of 2


This blog post is the second part of the Trade Finance Paradigm: The UCP 600 and ISBP are impossible books to read.


A couple of years back I was doing an ISBP course. The course took place in the first week of January. Just before Christmas I send a “present” to all of the people to participate in the ISBP course. When then opened it – they found the “ISBP - International Standard Banking Practice for the Examination of Documents under Documentary Credits, 2007 Revision for UCP 600 – ICC publication No. 681” … with a very “kind” note from me, basically saying that “here is some good Christmas reading – essential in order to be prepared for the course.”


Personally I found this a very kind gesture – but I was soon to learn that not all of the participants would agree to that. In fact quite a few reverted to me complaining that reading through this big book – would totally destroy their Christmas AND New Year…


This reaction gave me some “homework” over the Christmas holidays – because I simply did not understand that reaction. First of all – I found it a good practical joke. Of course humour differ between people – but still; the participants were not unfamiliar with the ISBP. In fact they all had worked in the trade finance department 1-2 years. So asking them to read the core book on how to examine LC documents should not be a huge challenge…


Sometimes around New Years Eve I came to the conclusion that I had to change the beginning of the course. I simply had to add an introduction on how to read textbooks. In the hours when one year turned into another year, it occurred to me that some of the people working within one of the most “technical” areas – an area flooded with highly detailed textbooks – did not really know how to read a textbook …

My conclusion was that the harsh reaction to my little Christmas joke was based on the fact, that the approach to reading the ISBP over Christmas was the same as if they were to read a Harry Potter book. Starting at page one … and seeing the plot unveil from page to page … building up to the climax where Harry is to fight Voldemort. But ISBP is NOT Harry Potter. The ISBP is a textbook. Although both are made up with many words – it makes no sense reading them the same way.


Here it seems appropriate to make a “link” to the previous blog post: The UCP 600 articles should NOT be read from cover to cover – but one should read what is relevant for the purpose of what the “needs” are in terms of what one is doing right now.


For the ISBP this is a bit different – because you need the ISBP for mainly one purpose: Checking the documents presented under an LC.

However – if you read the ISBP from cover to cover for the first (or second) time, then you will not be able to remember the content, because you are overwhelmed with pieces of information. Your brain cannot grasp so much – and so detailed information in one go!


So how to do it?


Simple actually. You need to browse through the book. Making a note on

1) How it is structured, and

2) what information is available in the ISBP.


So if you use one hour browsing back and forth in the ISBP – then you have come a long way … because then you know what to find – and where to find it.

But after that – do NOT place the ISBP at the bottom of the drawer! But rather keep the ISBP with you at all times. Preferably in your pocket – or in your bag, but at least next to you when you are examining the documents – and every time you meet one of the pieces of information identified to be in the ISBP (your brain will tell you because you made a note of it – remember!), take it – and find the relevant paragraph, and read it carefully relating it to the issue at hand. Having done that a couple of months – you need not look up anything anymore – because you know the ISBP from cover to cover!


So what can I say: Happy ISBP reading! And luckily for you – an new one is coming – very soon! Look out for it.


Take care of each other and the LC!



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LCViews - TFPD_09: The UCP 600 and ISBP are impossible books to read – part 2 of 2