E-Book: ERP Migration | How to Simplify and Accelerate Bank Integration

14-07-2021 | treasuryXL | Kyriba |

ERP cloud migration is a costly and time-consuming undertaking, particularly where IT is concerned – and for many corporations, the bank integration exercise can be among the most daunting aspects of the project.

The good news is that companies can simplify and accelerate the bank integration component of ERP migration, and reduce payment connectivity and format costs by up to 80%.

In this latest ebook, you will learn about the IT challenges involved in the bank integration element of ERP cloud migration, including:

  • Following banks’ schedules
  • Navigating geographical variations
  • SWIFT certification
  • Resourcing challenges

You’ll also find out how you can reduce the need for IT resources while minimizing costs, reducing complexity and accelerating the bank integration project.

Fill out this form to get your copy of the comprehensive eBook.

 

 

How a Treasurer can really add Value

28-06-2021 | treasuryXL | Kyriba |

”The pandemic has boosted automation in treasury departments and led to big increases in productivity. But that is only the start. The big prize is the value that treasury teams can generate with the man-hours that automation frees up”, says Bob Stark, Head of Marketing Strategy at Kyriba.

The Post-Pandemic Treasurer

The post-pandemic world will not be a return to the previous status quo. In treasury we can look at this in three ways – people, process and technology.

In terms of people, a recent survey showed that 61% of CFOs expect their teams to be working out of the office at least a day a week in future (source: fortune.com 2020). In some ways the combination of working from home and in the office will pose its own problems, with different opportunities for fraud and mistakes. At least working from home all the time provided some consistency! Furthermore, many of the changes that treasury teams had to make suddenly last year will now become permanent.

Now let’s look at processes. Fully 78% of CFOs have changed inefficient workflows during the pandemic, and 82% intend to keep the changes that they have made in terms of automation and digitisation (source: MasterCard 2020). These changes involve the standardisation, automation and streamlining of multiple processes.

Thirdly, treasurers need to digitise and have an enterprise-wide cloud platform; to leverage analytics to assess and improve decision-making; and then to innovate through Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to make treasury a better business partner.

There has also been a change in the role of treasury within companies over the past 15 months. During the pandemic, treasury’s involvement in other areas of the business has increased. A treasurer’s objectives often now include more strategic aims, and the remit is likely to expand still further. In many cases this will involve increased shared responsibilities, for example reverse factoring.

Treasurers are progressing from a simple focus on productivity to making liquidity visible and then participating in strategic decisions that really add value. All of which in turn elevates the value of treasurers within their organisations.

How Treasury can add Value

We can all agree that treasurers have the ability to add value. We regularly see our clients make significant productivity gains in terms of man-hours as they automate residual manual functions. In many cases, automating processes can save over 80% of the man-hours involved (source: Hackett Group).

But that is only part of the story. The real value comes from what the treasury team can do with all those freed-up hours. The extra time gained through improvements in productivity allows them to analyse risks (such as counterparty, liquidity and FX risk) and make better, informed decisions, based on real insight and business intelligence. Or perhaps the extra time that automation has made available can reduce the opportunity for fraud. The common aim is to leverage liquidity to drive business growth and turn treasury into a strategic business partner.

Digitisation plays a big role here, especially in areas like payments, which have remained partially manual, for example in sanctions screening. Smart contracts are also increasing, which makes for other savings.

Measuring the impact

In any such analysis it is essential to be able to measure what you are achieving. That starts with liquidity itself: how much do we have? How far forward can I forecast liquidity? How confident can I be in the accuracy of those forecasts? After all, you can only use the “excess” liquidity within your company when you are confident that you aren’t going to need it!

Digitisation is the way to improve the visibility of your liquidity. You can then test the accuracy of your information and decide how to use that asset. You can do this with a scorecard to measure your company against industry peers and assess your level of maturity, from Ad hoc, through Emerging and Standardising to Strategic. You can then highlight the opportunities for improvement

Many of our clients have done just that. For one client, an 88% improvement in cash management and forecasting – thanks to automation – saved over £1m in net interest by unlocking cash that had been lying idle. It also helped the same client to save over £100K in bank fees.

Another client reduced costs by 85% and used the newly spare man-hours to avoid £1.2m in fraud-related costs. They also accelerated ERP migration by 80%. Other savings might include generating free cashflow or protecting the business against financial loss. But all these achievements start with productivity gains that free up treasury staff to do something more valuable within their organisations.

I will leave you with three thoughts: automation and digitisation are here to stay; productivity is an opportunity, not just a saving; and if you are going to add value as a treasurer, you need to be able to measure that saving.

 

 

Is Digital Cash now King? Enigma tells……

23-06-2021 | treasuryXL | Enigma Consulting |

Get inspired by the extensive and catchy interview with Robert-Jan Wekking about Enigma Consulting. Robert-Jan takes you into the warm corporate culture, mission, expertise, innovation and their continues investment in knowledge with great examples.

Enigma Consulting is a revolutionary knowledge hub in the field of Payments, Digitisation, Risk & Compliance and Treasury. They are a connecting factor in the financial sector thanks to our consultants’ engagement with their clients, both banks and companies and solution providers.

AN INTRODUCTION TO

Robert-Jan has more than 25 years of experience in payment transactions and he advises corporate clients in the areas of treasury, risk management and bank connectivity.He understands the solutions in the market, both from the B2B and B2C perspective.

Robert-Jan switches easily between executive and operational level within companies and the banking sector, as he easily combines his strategic vision with substantive process and product knowledge. He has a wide network with contacts at all (international) banks, which can speed up the implementation of corporates connectivity with their banks.

We asked him 11 questions. Let’s go!

 

INTERVIEW

1. Tell us more about Enigma Consulting and its mission

Enigma Consulting has in-depth knowledge of all ecosystems that are relevant in payments, transaction value chains and financial markets. Transactional connectivity and digitization increase the prosperity and well-being of consumers, companies and the public sector and thus serve a social interest. Our mission is to contribute to the development of efficient digital transaction traffic and to ensure that this is done in an innovative, sustainable, honest and effective manner with controlled business operations. Combined with a correct attitude and behaviour, this contributes to the translation of legislation and regulations into ethical business operations and a better market position. We follow developments closely, research, analyse and make connections. Our consultants reflect, structure and help organisations to achieve their goals.

2. What is the core topic Enigma Consulting aims to address and how does it differentiate it from the other players in the market?

Digitalization is all about the exchange of data, whether these are payments, information, identities, contracts, signatures or any other regular consumer or business transactions. The complexity of exchanging transactions is constantly increasing; regulations, fraud and data protection are just three of the factors impacting this complexity.  On the other hand, innovative technology is continuously providing easier interaction between data, leading to better and integrated business propositions and making client journeys faster, more friction less and safer.  This is exactly in this domain where Enigma operates.  We leverage our in-depth knowledge of payments and transactions to advise and implement.

We distinguish ourselves from other players by looking at the end-to-end value chain, not only from the viewpoint of efficiency but also with a perspective on regulations and compliance. We understand the guiding laws and regulations and can translate them into practical advice to make sure that our clients remain compliant. We recognize that laws and regulations applying to financial institutions are becoming stricter and that attention is now also shifting towards corporates.

Our legal consultants are specialised in transaction and data related legislation, and we have strong connection with for example DNB and AFM in relation to our guidance of our clients.

Our consultancy practice focuses on the  financial-,  corporate- and retail sectors, hence we understand the complexities affecting those areas. With our knowledge of the ecosystems and  vendor solutions we play the matchmaking role between individual client wishes and the solutions available in the market.

This combination of end-to-end view, legislation and compliancy, working in different sectors, and the matchmaker role gives us a unique position. The fact that we not only advise but also take responsibility for  implementations during the past 20 years, makes us a trusted and recognized partner for our clients.

3. Why choose customers for Enigma Consulting?

Our knowledge of payments and other transaction processes is often the starting point for customers to reach out to us. Our capability to advise and implement solutions from an end-to-end perspective is the basis for our interaction with our customers.  Additionally, customers also appreciate the fact that we are able to advise at a strategic level, but at the same time are pragmatic enough to look for feasible and not theoretical answers.

We have strong relationships with a number of our clients, some even stretching back over more than 20 years. This is something we foster, not only by delivering more than what is expected, but also by working closely together. For instance, our Treasury Barometer is an example where we cooperate with the Rabobank, whilst at the same time we are participating in a number of their projects.

At the end, it all comes together with trust, in the quality of delivery, in our people and in the overall relation. This is how we ensure that we will be shortlisted again the next time.

4. What has been the biggest challenge for Enigma Consulting regarding customer projects so far?

The most challenging projects are when we are asked to take end-to-end responsibility for delivering a complete project. Quite often, this means that we have a team onboard and the client is looking at us as lead consultant to get the job done. A good example is the setup of a complete bank payments infrastructure. Apart from the fact that these assignments are exciting and demanding, it is always challenging to make it happen in an environment with its own complexities.

For our individual consultants, stepping into a new assignment always has its own challenges.

Customers ask for us for different reasons, and our consultants have to quickly adapt to start advising the client. This means not only understanding the clients’ business, but primarily building trust relations with the client and their stakeholders. Hence for every consultant the adaptability towards the new environment is always an important challenge.

For myself personally, I am proud to have led a number of strategic programs, like SEPA, Instant Payments and iDIN.  Besides building completely new products, the key challenge is always to work and build bridges between internal and external parties (Banks, DNB, governmental bodies) with sometimes opposing objectives. Working with all these parties and ultimately developing a new product is what makes me happy and proud of my role as consultant.

5. Can you tell us in what sector you see the most innovative developments regarding payments and how does Enigma Consulting react to these?

One of the most exciting aspects of payments is the continuous innovation in the field. However, it is never a revolution but more an evolution. An example are the digital currencies. I believe that in the long run, these might become as important as, or even replace, the current way of paying. But it will take many years to get there. Where it started with the cryptos and Facebook’s Libra, the central banks are now seriously embracing it.

Additionally, the technical transitions to APIs and SaaS, Open Banking and Instant are ingredients for completely new business innovation. Through API and SaaS, corporates can select best in class software modules and integrate them, rather than select single platforms that will still sub-optimise their process. The introduction of Instant Payments in Europe will ultimately change the way the treasurer needs to forecast and manage their accounts.

In the B2C or C2C world, the client journey will continuously improve, seamlessly and friction less, with data integration as a key element.

Through our assignments, we are constantly in the middle of this innovation. For example, we are the leading consultancy firm in the Netherlands for supporting FinTechs, cryptos and payment software companies with their PSD2 application. Our role in digital identity and Mobility as a Service provides us with insights in yet other areas of innovation.

In order to keep all our consultants informed, we have a weekly meeting with our consultants to discuss the latest trends.

We also leverage this knowledge to assist our clients with their questions around innovation. For this purpose, we have initiated the Enigma Innovation Lab, an accelerator environment to answer client specific questions around innovation, vision building or technical solutions by injecting are our own knowledge combined with our ecosystem of solution providers and subject matter specialists, all facilitated by various methodologies like Design Thinking.

6. Do you experience differences in the world of payments before COVID19 and the time we live in now? What are the differences?

The differences are not that when you look at the regular payment products themselves. But we do see COVID as a steppingstone for digitalization. E-commerce and e-commerce payments have shown significant growth and people are spending increasing amounts of time online. The volumes of payments facilitated by Payment Service Providers are going through the roof.

Also “Cash is King” is the phrase that everybody uses, but this should now be “Digital Cash is King”. Volume of physical cash is dropping significantly, being taken over by contactless payments.

I believe these are just indicators for a bigger change, which is the acceptance of the consumer to step into a full mobile journey.

Customers are now more familiar with working with a cashless wallet and seem also to be willing to adapt faster to other contactless, digital processes. Examples are registration, ordering food and payments in restaurants (for example via QR). But also using mobile apps to order your groceries. Clearly, this has already been taking place for many years, but I believe that COVID has accelerated this transformation through necessity.  People are therefore more willing to change their attitude. What is interesting is whether this transformation will continue, or whether people will step backwards to the old normal or step forward to a new normal.

For the retail sector and corporates, before COVID they already had to understand how to become more relevant in the mobile cashless digital world.  COVID is demanding corporates to speed up this thought process.

7. How does the future of payments look like in your perspective? And how will it change the world?

Digital currencies will be an important element in our future, adopted stepwise, and will be overlooked by market systems and regulators. There will be a continuous drive for integrating payments in the client journey, seamless, frictionless and supporting the Internet of Things. Hence payments will be a key enabler of future growth towards the digital world. Digitization is also very attractive for fraudsters, money laundering etc, as your counterpart is not always visible anymore. The need for trustworthy digital identities will be an important building block for this roadmap.

At the same time, the pressure of fraud, regulations and compliance will shift from banks to other parties (corporates) in the end-to-end value chain. Where banks are currently the gatekeeper, corporates will have to integrate this responsibility in their own business processes.

Hence the roadmap to digital, whether it is digital payments, or any other data transaction, will demand continuous change from all parties in the value chain. This will be a stepwise change, but fast enough to need to keep an eye on it.

8. What has been the biggest success for Enigma Consulting?

The biggest success for Enigma is that we have made a transformation from payments “only” to understanding the full transaction, risk and data value chain. For example, we have made a transition from bank payments to treasury payments and risk processes, but also from payments to compliance, and to integrated transactions and data models.

During this period, we have also changed our internal organisation.  We have been running a number of Young Professional Programs. These next generation talents bring us a more diverse view of the world, which makes our proposition to the market stronger and our internal culture more diverse. As a result, we believe that we have the foundation for supporting our clients, now and in the future, with a passion for payments and transactions.

9. How does Enigma Consulting keep on innovating and stay one step ahead of its competitors?

Our ambition is to be recognised as a though leader in the domain of payment and transactions. Investing in knowledge is the basis for our current and future advisory services.

This means that we continuously invest in gaining and sharing knowledge with our consultants and clients. We have organised this in a number of ways.

We have introduced the so-called Theme Lifecycle within Enigma. When we expect a theme becomes relevant for our business, now or the future, we start a workgroup to progress this theme from idea through different stages. It starts with writing a one pager based on study and analysis, called the exploring stage. We validate the readiness for every next stage (exploring, campaigning, harvesting) so that we invest time in those subjects that also become relevant for the market. All our consultants participate in one or more themes, which helps keep them engaged with innovation and market developments.

Every week we organise meetings to discuss news and articles. On turn, every consultant is responsible to select a number of articles to be discussed during this half hour meeting.

For our clients, we have regular Breakfast and Brains meetings to share our insights and to have open discussions on a specific subject. The success is that clients that even might compete in a certain sector, are always willing to learn and share from our and other clients’ experiences.

Finally, we also participate in and cooperate with FinTechs. We support them by leveraging our network of solutions, whilst their innovative ideas are a good source for future improvements, leading to a broader ecosystem that benefits our clients.

10. We are heading to the end of 2020, can you give us an outlook on the scheduled developments for the upcoming year?

The best outlook would be that we leave COVID-19 behind us, however I think that COVID will strongly influence the developments and investments in 2021. There are a number of scheduled developments which will impact corporate clients. Corporates will have to put their capacity in the IBOR Migration.  Also, the transition to XML messages will impact the operating architecture and bank connectivity of corporates.  In parallel, the transition to instant payments including batches will have to be put on the calendar of the finance function.

And in parallel, it is recommended to continue to look at the potential of open banking and further integration of payments data in the corporate business processes. An example is how payment data can improve the risk profiles of insurance companies.

In summary, enough subjects to keep an eye on. Sitting still and waiting is not an option.

11. A great initiative is that Enigma Consulting supports charity projects, what kind of charity projects does Enigma Consulting support, why and how?

The why should never be a discussion, the real discussion is what you can do. One of our activities is the ZEPA challenge.  Our consultants do like sports, and a lot of them love to cycle. When the transition to SEPA was going on, some of our consultants took the initiative for this challenge: cycling from Zeist to Paris in 24 hours. We have done this now 3 times, and a number of our clients’ employees have also participated.  This year’s event was cancelled, but we are already “ready” for the next challenge. There is not a fixed charity goal, the last charity was support for the education of young refugees.

Apart from the above, we have a warm partnership with “Goede Doelen” charity organisations in Netherlands and facilitate a free payments helpdesk for them.

It is of crucial importance to us to participate in an open and honest society, in which diversity and inclusion are critical. This is important for our own culture, as as an organisation we benefit from our consultants and they, in turn, foster these values in their personal lives.

Digital Currencies | Not Ready for Corporate Treasury

15-06-2021 | treasuryXL | Kyriba |

Bitcoin and several cryptocurrencies dropped more than $1 trillion in market value, forcing influencers and investors to walk back their advice on using private digital currencies as a reliable store of value. Kyriba’s Wolfgang Koester discussed what was driving this cryptocurrency volatility with Maria Bartiromo’s “Mornings with Maria” on Fox Business Network on May 24th. “We’re seeing increased rhetoric from the Chinese around a Central Bank Digital Currency and the United States are developing their own digital currency,” said Koester.

Big price swings for Bitcoin, Ethereum, and most recently Dogecoin are nothing new. CFOs and Treasurers have always had little appetite for cryptocurrencies, which is why examples like Tesla investing over $1 Billion USD in Bitcoin made such waves in finance circles. And while Tesla reported a quarterly net income boost of over $100 Million USD on their Bitcoin holdings, their social media savvy CEO has since suggested they will move on from their investment. This reinforces for many why cryptocurrencies are a blip on the radar screen and a bad idea for corporations to be involved with. But…are cryptos really that bad for corporates?

First, it’s more a matter of being “not ready” than bad. Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin behave like commodities due to their limited supply; the price volatility is fully explained by the supply/demand imbalance. For example, there is a hard cap of 21 Million Bitcoins and these days there is a lot of demand for Bitcoin! Demand for Bitcoin and other cryptos is driven by everything from social media to a fear of missing out (FOMO) that we are similarly seeing play out in other markets, such as residential real estate or in many tech stocks. Corporates, on the other hand, shy away from volatile assets as they require liquidity for their investments and cryptocurrencies just aren’t there yet. Selling several hundred million (or more) dollars worth of bitcoin or ethereum is a market moving transaction and is difficult to manage through the digital wallets and exchanges that are generally more designed for individuals. So, between the liquidity barriers and the unstable values, corporates still can’t rely on privately issued altcoins like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and others until these challenges are overcome.

State-sponsored digital currencies potentially have something to offer, however. As Kyriba’s Wolfgang Koester discussed on Fox Business Network’s “Mornings with Maria”, China has made significant advancements in the rollout of the digital yuan, which has further prompted other nation states to accelerate their own digital currency programs. In theory, government-backed digital currencies are expected to offer a striking advantage over the privately issued cryptocurrencies – and that is utility. To have utility, the digital currency must be widely accessible – and be fast and secure. And this is where the Bitcoins of the world are not ready for mainstream use. They aren’t widely accessible, the blockchain “networks” supporting them remain unproven for high transaction volumes, and the value is uncertain and could easily change between the time a seller accepts a cryptocurrency and when they choose to use or exchange them.

Of course there are solutions to each of these individual problems – e.g. the use of stable coins (that are pegged to the price of a fiat currency) instead of altcoins. But each of the requirements – value, liquidity, utility, transactability – must all be met before corporates can expect to safely use crypto/digital currencies on a daily basis. This doesn’t preclude organizations wading into the cryptocurrency landscape as a means of reaching new markets or differentiating against competitors. In fact, more and more online retailers and marketplaces are accepting cryptocurrencies for payment. You can even buy a Tesla with bitcoins. Yet when it comes to corporate treasury and finance teams, they are converting holdings to fiat currencies as quickly as possible so they can still meet cash forecast projections and free cash flow targets. State-sponsored digital currencies may well offer a lifeline to transform digital currencies for mainstream use – or maybe privately issued cryptocurrencies will still rise to the opportunity – and when that day comes it will be fascinating for daily cash management nevermind cross-border payments, global cash pooling, and multilateral netting. I think all of us in treasury look forward to that!

Why CFOs Should Foster Stronger Relationships with Banks

01-06-2021 | treasuryXL | Kyriba |

CFOs are the custodians of financial growth for enterprise business, and a key part of that role is to build and foster mutually beneficial relationships with banks and funding partners. Since banking relationships are built upon the provision of services; whether those are lines of credit, daylight overdrafts, bank account reporting, payments, foreign exchange or concentration / pooling structures, CFOs can and should maximise the value derived from partner financial institutions.

One of the first mistakes a CFO or finance professional can make is in selecting or expanding a relationship with a bank ill-equipped to handle the global nature of their business and geographic footprint.

For example, banking relationships have implications across borders as many strong financial institutions are partnered with local banks or their own local branches providing much needed local expertise. Navigating difficult tax and reporting requirements, local format and regulatory requirements or unique depository scenarios all call upon strong relationships with banks familiar with your localisation needs.

Automating your banking interactions and reporting with technology is an area of concern.

In this scenario, CFOs are not able to take advantage of the full range of banking services since lapses and gaps in technology solutions do not provide for straight-through processing of payments or the automatic posting of cash and transactional details from bank-provided daily bank statements. Banks have evolved their services to provide much more flexibility and sophistication with regards to intraday bank statements, high levels of detail within bank statements and the frequency of sharing this information up to 4 to 5 times per day. Without the right technology solution to handle cash and liquidity forecasting, CFOs are leaving value on the “proverbial table” in the form of lost opportunities to invest, grow the business, or mitigate risk. Meanwhile, the lack of finance and treasury tools and automation associated with technology solutions, keeps staff tied to daily, tactical tasks versus a focus on strategic support and projects.

How well do CFOs understand the full potential of their banking relationships?

CFOs must be involved in understanding the health of the banking relationship and managing, or at least receiving updates on banking scorecards and other metrics to ensure the bank relationship is being leveraged to its full potential. For instance, more than ever, banks often provide or are partners in enabling Supply Chain Financing or Discounting scenarios to help both sides of the financial supply chain achieve their objectives. CFOs, again, must leverage their banking relationships while coupling them to technology options such as a solution with Dynamic Discounting or Supply Chain Finance to maximise bank services.

Additionally, visibility to liquidity in near or real-time is a must-have for CFOs.

Liquidity planning is critical for CFOs in good times and in bad. Historical market drops have highlighted the importance of having real-time access to information about your total liquidity position, understanding what level of cash is flowing through all systems, and what level of liquidity can be allocated to invest in growth opportunities or simply pay employees. CFOs in many cases can partner with banks to develop a mutually beneficial relationship. At the end of the day, Treasurers provide the CFO with the assurance that assets are safeguarded and the organisation has the liquidity required to meet obligations and fund strategic decisions. This is only possible if they too have immediate visibility into their positions.

Finally, there is risk in having all of your eggs in one basket.

CFOs should have a backup plan – having your liquidity, services and debt instruments with one bank can prove to be risky. When financial crises strike from internal or external factors (like margin calls, bankruptcies, etc.), these financial risks are mitigated when the CFO has a back-stop and other banking partner options to keep the lights on and the supply chain flowing. Having major and minor banking relationships can help keep banks competitively working for you while giving your organization financial and liquidity options to keep operations moving.

International Treasury Management Virtual Week | Celebrating 30 years as the world’s leading treasury event

| 19-05-2021 | Eurofinance | treasuryXL |

International Treasury Management is the annual meeting place for 1000s of the World’s most senior treasurers to learn and share experiences in valuable peer to peer discussions. With a reputation for ground-breaking sessions and world-class speakers, our 30th anniversary event will explore the boundaries of the profession, take a glimpse into the future of business, treasury and working life as well as offer the practical case studies on the treasurer’s top agenda items.

Only one treasury event can deliver the comprehensive mix of big picture global insight and granular treasury knowledge you need to make the right choices for the future.


Back to the future, again

Over the past 30 years since EuroFinance’s inaugural conference on International Cash and Treasury Management, much has changed. Treasurers have firmly become business partners, technology experts, risk managers and opportunity spotters. They often lead fundamental change within the company as markets, business models and technology shifts.

What next? This event will delve into how treasury operations can gear up for the future, having learned the lessons from the past. Where, who, what and how will the corporate be in the coming years and what is treasury’s role?

Keynote sessions will offer big-picture insight alongside themed streams including:

  • Payments revisited
  • Risks and Rewards
  • Digital strategies
  • Practical solutions to day-to-day Treasury challenges
  • The power of partnership

What makes International Treasury Management the must-attend event of the year?

  • networking on a global scale – a significant rise in attendees in 2020 boosted the value networking with banks, providers and potential clients… all in one place
  • strategic insights and best practices – get solutions to the challenges you face from treasury and economic experts during keynotes, practical case studies, fireside chats, analytical panels and more
  • future trends – delve into the latest innovations and new technology driving change in treasury, and their practical applications
  • live Q&A with world-class treasurers – enjoy borderless networking and live Q&As with high-profile speakers directly after each session
  • cost and time-efficiency – tune in form anywhere in the world, at the click of a button with no long distance travel or accommodation costs
  • continued learning – catch up on any missed sessions and re-watch your highlights, on demand for up 2 months after the event
  • unite your international teams – as a free event, it offers an opportunity for your whole treasury team to attend. Perfect for encouraging learning and development at all levels

September 27th – October 1st | Virtual

Register Now for Free!

 

 

Global Treasury Americas | Planning the post-pandemic Treasury

| 12-05-2021 | Eurofinance | treasuryXL |

The leading virtual event defining today’s corporate treasury agenda

For the past year, treasurers have sweated the core stuff: securing short-term liquidity and longer-term credit; enhancing risk monitoring and hedging processes; and dealing with the implications of remote working. But in the complex and uncertain transition to a new ‘normal’, finance functions will have to resume the search for growth. Can treasury help identify where growth is most likely to come from and which parts of the business are most threatened by digital disruption? And can they do better – can they help build the business strategies needed to prosper as we emerge into the next phase of the pandemic.

This event will explore the practical steps treasurers can take to make enterprise and treasury digitalization a reality and look at varied case studies of transformation in the treasury. The event will look in-depth at new technologies in action as well as more strategic concepts including the sustainability agenda. We look at how treasury can make a difference. Finally, we look at what it takes to transform treasury wherever you are in your journey in order to increase efficiencies, protect the business and make a difference to the bottom-line.

Global Treasury Americas: Planning the post-pandemic treasury

2 days of actionable insights, plus real world case studies tackling the key issues facing treasurers in the region. Topics include:

  • The Great Bounce-back
  • Practical steps on the path to automated Treasury
  • Why sustainability matters for Treasury
  • Name that threat: What’s next
  • Building a true cash culture
  • Payments evolution – the Treasurer’s view

What makes Global Treasury Americas your must-attend event of the year?

  • Understand the practical steps towards making enterprise and treasury digitalization a reality
  • Gain actionable solutions and best practices from varied real-world case studies
  • Network with an unrivalled audience of 800+ senior treasury professionals across the Americas
  • Benchmark your operations against the regions most forward-thinking treasury teams
  • Explore how to support business growth whilst balancing the traditional role of treasury

June 9-10 | Virtual

Register Now

 

 

Liquidity Benefits From Dynamic Discounting in Supply Chain Financing

10-05-2021 | treasuryXL | Kyriba |

It might not always be obvious where business can learn lessons from somewhere like yacht racing, particularly in more specialist fields like Supply Chain Finance and Dynamic Discounting. But there are often uncanny parallels from this sport and finance, when both seek to deploy serious sums of money and leading-edge technology to deliver the marginal gains that can mean the difference between winning and losing.

I thought this was particularly evident in the recent America’s Cup yacht racing challenges in New Zealand. Those AC75 mono-hull super yachts that raced around the bays off Auckland often travelled at a logic-defying 40-50 knots, twice as fast as the winds that powered them and seemingly in defiance of both gravity and conventional sailing speed barriers.

Liquidity Made Good

The key to having one AC75 go faster than an almost identical competitor is the ability to analyse masses of data points in real-time to make the required adjustments to sails, rudders, weights and foils in order to attack the optimum route to the finish at maximum speed. It’s a concept called Velocity Made Good, with VMG now the go-to acronym that defines winners in America’s Cup racing. Perfecting VMG was the reason the New Zealand boat successfully beat its global challengers – again.

I was particularly struck by how this VMG-led transformation of yacht racing, now cascading down from the pinnacle of the sport to the club level, is not dissimilar to how a focus on technology-led cash and liquidity management is liberating corporate balance sheets. We could even refer to it as Liquidity Made Good, where, by the way, velocity also matters.

New Level Playing Field

The deployment of more powerful technologies can improve decision-making, release resources from previously opaque silos and supply chains, and deliver new competitive advantage. Historically this was only available to those high-tech firms and financial institutions with deep pockets, just like the owners of America’s Cup yachts, because of the almost prohibitive cost of computing power, data storage and analytics.

But cloud-based software platforms, the blossoming of data analytics, ubiquitous access to near-unlimited data storage and the power of connectivity-as-a-service now ensures, like in yachting, that these benefits filter down from the elite to level the playing field.

Greater Flexibility, Visibility

In particular, the once sleepy backwaters of trade finance are now waking up to new opportunities to maximise cash resources in ways that not only strengthen supplier relationships, but also enhance Corporate Social Responsibility credentials. Early Payment Discounting has been around trade finance for many years. But persistent, ultra-low interest rates and expectations of greater flexibility now demand more creative solutions from Treasurers. Answers to which technology can now help to provide.

Within the broader field of Supply Chain Finance, firms can now use technology to transform early payment schemes into Dynamic Discounting. These can be deployed as an integral part of wider working capital management, where better visibility can optimise liquidity and improve profitability. It might seem just a simple method of paying invoices earlier, particularly for businesses with surplus cash that can benefit both parties involved. But how it is managed becomes critical to the outcome.

Win-Win Solution

For Dynamic Discounting to succeed, it needs to be sufficiently flexible (dynamic) as to how and when suppliers are paid, with payments made prior to due dates at a discount to original invoice values calculated on a sliding scale. This means that the earlier the buyer pays a supplier, the greater the discount. The discount is therefore “dynamic” in relation to the number of days until the invoice due date and avoids the previous “cliff edge” difference between simply either having a discount or not.

Most importantly, suppliers get continuously paid earlier, which improves their liquidity position and which could then allow them to pay their own suppliers earlier, invest more in their business or alternatively just do more business with the buyer.

Funding Flexibility

For a cash-rich buyer operating in a low interest environment, the benefit is obvious. Rather than leaving liquidity in a low-interest account, it can pay large invoices early to receive additional discounts and strengthen profitability. For instance, if a buyer receives a 2% discount for paying a 90-day-net invoice after 30 days, it can invest the amount for 60 days and receive a return. This is the equivalent of a just over 10% annual return on capital that would far outweigh any loss of interest.

The buyer is fully in control of how this program is run, determining how much funding capital to set aside and adjusting that capital as seasonal liquidity fluctuates. Any seasonal liquidity issues could then also be managed by pairing the dynamic discounting program with a traditional SCF program. This would also allow the flexibility for third-party funding to fill any gaps that emerged due to potential, or periodic, lower cash balances available for the original arrangement.

Besides earning a return on excess cash, Dynamic Discounting can also reduce supply chain risks (in that financially more stable suppliers mean reduced supplier risk) and then strengthen supplier relationships. Conversely, on the supplier side it improves cash flow and provides early payment options, both of which save time, puts cash into accounts sooner and increases liquidity visibility. Benefits everywhere!

CSR Benefits – Risk Free Returns

There’s no such thing as a free lunch, but there are other compensating benefits to offset the initial costs of implementing a modern Dynamic Discounting plan, not least of which can be a significant increase in ROI on otherwise dormant cash without increased risk. After all, you are only effectively paying existing suppliers early, who you have to pay anyway, free of any additional counterparty risk.

And, as I mentioned earlier, today’s much more keenly scrutinised CSR credentials can also be significantly burnished by the support provided to often much-smaller suppliers down the food chain. That can then be more widely communicated directly to CSR scoring tables which, in turn, recognise responsible buyers and suppliers.

So, to get the maximum benefit of the wind in your sails and the best performance from your assets, make sure you use the right technology to strengthen decision making. After that, understanding the challenge, minimising the risks and reaping the mutual rewards of Dynamic Discounting will enable much smoother sailing and help you optimise your liquidity!

 

Bank connectivity 2.0. New solutions offer new opportunities! (Dutch Item)

05-05-2021 | treasuryXL | Enigma Consulting |

Veel organisaties hebben voor het betalingsverkeer een zogenaamde ‘Payment Hub’ geïmplementeerd voor de connectiviteit met de banken. Zo’n hub zorgt voor een veilige, automatische connectie om betaal- en incasso opdrachten naar de bank(en) te sturen en dagafschriften te ontvangen. Veel van deze hubs zijn in 2012 bij de overgang naar SEPA geïntroduceerd. Sindsdien is de technologie echter drastisch veranderd en bieden nieuwe oplossingen, via Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), rijkere functionaliteit aan tegen een veel efficiënter bedrijfsmodel. “Het wordt dus hoog tijd om uw bankconnectiviteit opnieuw onder de loep te nemen!”, aldus Roderick Kroon, partner bij Enigma Consulting.

“Het gebruik van een Corporate Payment hub voor bankconnectiviteit tussen de corporate ERP / TMS-systemen en de bankrelaties neemt in aantal toe. Trends als digitalisering, standaardisatie en de toegenomen aandacht voor fraude- en risicomanagement maken het automatiseren van de connectiviteit met banken een onderwerp op de managementagenda.”

Er zijn volgens Kroon momenteel drie interessante ontwikkelingen die resulteren in een verhoogde focus op bankconnectiviteit in de Nederlandse markt:



1. De toegenomen focus op het ‘in control’ willen zijn

“In het verleden waren Treasury en Finance vooral gefocust op de hoge waarde / laag volume Treasury betalingen en niet te veel op de commerciële betaalstromen. Uit de discussies van Enigma met veel corporate treasurers zien we een grotere focus op het ‘in control’ zijn door bijvoorbeeld handmatige activiteiten te verminderen, het aantal tokens voor elektronische banksystemen te verminderen en realtime inzicht in liquiditeit te hebben. De verbeterde proposities van TMS-systemen en netwerk partijen zoals SWIFT, leiden tot de logische stap om de bankconnectiviteit te automatiseren. Dit omvat niet alleen de automatisering van de betaalstromen, maar ook de ontvangst en distributie van bankafschriften intern.”

2. Er zijn nieuwe (payment hub) oplossingen met een revolutionair bedrijfsmodel

“Ook aan de oplossingszijde zien we interessante ontwikkelingen. Nieuwe (Fintech) leveranciers zoals Cobase, Nomentia, Kyriba of TIS nemen (multi-tenant) SaaS als uitgangspunt om de IT-footprint te verkleinen en zorgen ervoor dat klanten direct profiteren van verbeteringen die voor andere gebruikers wordt ontwikkeld. Vooral op het gebied van bankconnectiviteit zien we een verschuiving van ‘maatwerk voor de klant’ naar ‘best-practise oplossingen van de leverancier zelf’. Gebruikers profiteren direct van investeringen die reeds gemaakt zijn voor andere klanten en bankkoppelingen die al deel uitmaken van de standaardoplossing. Sommige leveranciers gaan zelfs nog verder en bieden de gehele bank onboarding aan als ‘service’.”

“Kennis van de details van betaalformaten, (bank)kanaalopties en noodzakelijk contracten is dan niet meer noodzakelijk zelf te hebben. Andere (eveneens SaaS) leveranciers zoals COUPA Treasury of Serrala richten zich op het creëren van complete ecosystemen en samenwerkingen met derde partijen om de waarde propositie en relevantie verder te versterken.”

3. Vervanging van (verouderde) Payment Hub-oplossingen

“Een derde interessante ontwikkeling is dat ‘early stage’ payment hubs aan het einde van hun economische levenscyclus zijn gekomen en aan vervanging toe zijn. Sterker nog, één grote speler (CPH van FIS) heeft haar klanten geïnformeerd einde 2021 te stoppen met het product waardoor tientallen bedrijven op zoek moeten naar een andere oplossing.”

Met de introductie van SEPA in 2012 maakte een groot aantal bedrijven de keuze om een payment hub te implementeren, vertelt Kroon. “De belangrijkste focus in die tijd was het verminderen van de complexiteit van veranderingen in het bestaande IT-landschap. In die tijd speelden Payment Hub-oplossingen vooral een rol bij:

  • Bestandsconversie of -verrijking van (in NL Clieop) formaten naar SEPA formaten
  • SEPA-machtigingsbeheer voor automatische incasso om de (te complexe) ‘FIRST versus ‘RECURRENT’ richtlijnen te volgen en het nieuw vereiste ‘machtigingskenmerk’ te administreren
  • Het bieden van een alternatief voor kanalen die banken besloten uit te faseren om hun SEPA-programma’s te vereenvoudigen (bijvoorbeeld het ING Finstream-kanaal)”

“De stand van de techniek was echter totaal anders dan tegenwoordig. API’s, SaaS of Cloud bestonden niet. De implementatie was veelal ‘on-premise’ met een aanzienlijke IT-voetafdruk en initiële CAPEX-investering. In de afgelopen maanden heeft Enigma Consulting meerdere discussies gevoerd over de noodzaak om deze ‘vroege’ payments hubs te vervangen en zijn wij betrokken bij meerdere selectie en vervangingstrajecten. De leverancierselectie projecten die we hebben gedaan ter vervanging van bestaande oplossingen hebben interessant genoeg een zeer positieve businesscase als resultaat:

  • Er zijn grote extra investeringen (soms upgrades) nodig in de legacy-oplossingen om de IT-beveiliging te verbeteren of om nieuwe bedrijfsfuncties beschikbaar te maken. Nieuwe oplossingen zullen deze kosten onmiddellijk elimineren;
  • De huidige kosten zijn in vergelijking met de kosten van nieuwe oplossingen een stuk duurder;
  • Sommige leveranciers zijn van eigenaar veranderd en de focus op payments én bankconnectiviteit is verdwenen, terwijl nieuwe oplossingen de huidige marktfactoren en ontwikkelingen in het betaaldomein zeer groep begrijpen;
  • Nieuwe SaaS / Cloud-oplossingen verkleinen de IT-footprint aanzienlijk en vereisen veel minder (vaak schaarse) capaciteit van IT voor onderhoud / upgrades;
  • De huidige payment hubs bieden een breder scala aan diensten en kunnen veel eenvoudiger (via API’s) worden geïntegreerd met andere systemen (bijv. cashmanagement, fraude, treasury, ERP, transactie monitoring);
  • Veel payment hubs bieden mu volledige ondersteuning voor ‘on-behalf’ (POBO / COBO) verwerking in combinatie met in-house bankieren en / of virtuele accountoplossingen.”

Is bankconnectiviteit een apart onderwerp?

Kroon: “Niet per se. Hoewel het onderwerp zelf perfect als individueel vraagstuk kan worden aangepakt, zien we dat onze klanten de benodigde verandering op dit domein koppelen aan een bredere discussie over hun financiële waardeketen. Vaak gaat een noodzakelijke verandering in het connectiviteitsdomein van banken hand in hand met bredere discussies over de visie ten aanzien van ‘betalen’ en het gerelateerde Target Operating Model, waarin alle marktontwikkelingen (outside in), interne ambities (inside out) en discussie over de bankrelatie (s) worden meegenomen. De selectie van de best passende leverancier voor de payment hub moet dan worden gezien in het bredere perspectief van een routekaart (roadmap) voor Payments op de middellange termijn.”

Dus wat nu te doen?

“We raden aan om de oplossing die is gekozen voor de bankconnectiviteit opnieuw te (laten) beoordelen. Indien deze nog niet geautomatiseerd is kan er een sterke businesscase zijn om dit te veranderen, de efficiëntie te verbeteren en risico’s te verminderen. Indien er al wel een oplossing is kunnen er argumenten zijn om te profiteren van vervanging door een van de nieuwe oplossingen die ‘meer bieden voor minder’.”

“Wij adviseren om verder te kijken dan alleen bankconnectiviteit en het volledige betaaldomein in beschouwing te nemen om te valideren of men voldoende voorbereid is op de toekomst, rekening houdend met alle nieuwe ontwikkelingen in het betalingsverkeer. Enigma Consulting kan de business case versterken door een efficiënt traject met behulp van de unieke ‘RFP-as-a- service’ en ‘Payments Road map’.”

Bank connectivity – why it is not a one-size-fits-all issue

04-05-2021 | Luca Crivellari | treasuryXL |

Corporate to bank communication is still a very pressing issue in cash management. There are several alternatives that allow corporates to interface and exchange data with banks, and most of the times it is complex for treasurers to identify the best choice. The consequence of not adopting the best setup might be to receive inadequate or old information, or the inability to have the right level of control over the issue of payments. The aim of the article is to assist treasurers in identifying all the relevant variables, and to take a decision that factors in all the possible impacts of each alternative.


Introduction – Why bank connectivity is still a hot topic?

In 1973, over 200 banks from 15 countries created a cooperative body with the aim of easing the communication among banks. This organization was born under the name of SWIFT, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication.

SWIFT enables its customers to automate and standardize the processing of financial transactions, thereby lowering costs, reducing operational risk and eliminating inefficiencies from their operations.

The rise in global trade was the main reason why financial institutions were pressed by defining a common standard for international payments and reporting, and the aim was to avoid lengthy conversions, useless charges and operational inefficiencies that might derive from the use of different standards.

Fast forward to today, SWIFT is the undisputed backbone of financial markets, with over 11,000 financial institutions and corporations in more than 200 countries, processing a record of 46,3 million messages in a single day on the FIN service. SWIFT messages are nowadays used for both bank-to-bank and corporate-to-bank communication, and the organization has developed dedicated categories for messages that are related to payments, cash management, foreign exchange, trade finance, treasury markets, and securities.

Overtime, several other organizations with a similar aim were created, at national or international level. It is worth to mention the CBI (Customer to Business Interaction, former Corporate Banking Interbancario) consortium in Italy, and the EBICS (Electronic Banking Internet Communication Standard) protocol in Germany.

We still live in a world of different standards and practices, where corporates often struggle in navigating among the different options they have when it comes to issue a payment or to receive a piece of account statement. This article is meant to be a guide for corporate treasurers on how to select the right connectivity setup, because there is no such a thing as a universal optimum, and every alternative has its own advantages and its own shortcomings.

From the experience I gathered during the last years of conversations with several corporates based throughout Europe, one of their most relevant priorities is to consolidate an accurate picture of the liquidity available in the company bank accounts, on a daily basis. Too many organizations, including some with a relevant experience in international business and with a very important turnover, are still relying on Excel files shared on a monthly basis, in order to get the information of the balance that is sitting in a certain bank. In a world where business is changing rapidly, this can be an issue.

Moreover, the ever-changing technology landscape is adding complexity to the issue. New trends as the API-based connectivity can definitely allow a more efficient exchange of information, shortening the gap to a real time treasury, while the migration from MT to MX messaging standard is going to heavily impact how payments are going to be settled in the near future.

In conclusion, bank connectivity is still a hot topic because it is yet perceived as being a complicated issue by many corporates, and there is a clear need for treasurers to figure out all the relevant variables before choosing the most valid option for their company.

The alternatives on the market

Years of innovation and progress in information technology and financial markets have developed a wide array of possible bank connectivity services. In order for a treasurer to take the most educated choice, it is essential to list and examine all the options available. The list goes from the simplest to the most complex.

  • E-banking or bank-proprietary platforms: the base scenario nowadays is for a company to exchange messages and documents over an e-banking platform. This kind of platforms are provided by most of the commercial banks, and they include a common range of functionalities such as the possibility to import payment files from the Enterprise Resource Provider, approve them and send them over to the bank for the execution of the transaction. On the informative side, banks can allow their clients to download account statement messages, and possibly to collect statements sent by other banks.

Additional features that an e-banking platform might have are, for example, the possibility to manage direct debit mandates, or to place FX dealing orders to the bank.

Most of the e-banking solution in the market are endowed with a scheduler function that allows to exchange files with external systems such as the Enterprise Resource Provider or the Treasury Management System.

Companies that are relying on an e-banking platform for bank communications should carefully examine the range of functionalities that are included in the solution, when looking for a bank to work with. Corporate e-banking platforms developed by international banks might be more adequate for companies with international business, while domestic banks might develop functionalities that are more fit to the domestic market.

Another variable to consider is the technology that runs behind the platform. Most banks are nowadays offering web-based solutions that are more flexible and easier to maintain than hosted solutions.

The main advantage of relying on e-banking connectivity is the fact that it requires virtually no effort for the channel to be available, especially if it is a web-based service.

Although it is a very practical solution, companies that have multiple banking relationship will need to activate multiple e-banking platform to issue transactions from these bank accounts. Another shortcoming is that the availability and the security of each e-banking platform relies on the systems of the bank who is providing the service, and this can be a potential risk if the financial institution is not disciplined enough to run a highly secure infrastructure.

  • Multibank platforms: one of the most annoying disadvantages of leveraging on e-banking connectivity is to maintain the access to multiple platforms, and to constantly need to switch from one to the other during the day. This shortfall can be bypassed by the adoption of a multibank platform. These solutions work just like an e-banking platform, but they give the possibility to manage bank accounts belonging to more banks via a single solution.

This possibility is often developed by multinational banking groups, that might allow to reach bank accounts within the same banking group via a single e-banking solution.

Alternatively, some banking communities have developed country-wide standards that allow the possibility to manage all the bank accounts that a company has in the country with a single e-banking channel. This is the case of Italy with the CBI service.

Technical advantages and disadvantages of this solution are essentially the same of the e-banking connectivity that was described in the previous point.

  • Host to host connectivity: some financial institutions allow their corporate clients to exchange files via a secured file transfer mechanism. This option is preferred when the company has a privileged relationship with a specific bank, and this is the case because the setup of a host-to-host connection can be a time consuming task both on the bank and on the corporate side.

It is important to bear in mind that a dedicated host to host connection can be a resource intensive solution to maintain, therefore it is key to agree with the partner bank who is responsible in the maintenance of the service, and which is the minimum uptime contractually agreed.

Having a host to host connection with a specific bank means that the company is clearly trusting the security protocol of the financial institution. Connections of this kind are normally secured by an encryption protocol, and this makes a host-to-host connection generally more secure than an e-banking connection.

  • SWIFT connection: most of the companies with a complex cash management infrastructure choose to connect directly to the SWIFT network.

Being part of the SWIFT network means for a company to be identified with a specific SWIFT code, the same identifier that is normally used by banks.

It also means that a company can securely exchange files with several banking partners from a single channel, and for this reason a SWIFT connection is the preferred option for companies that have implemented a central payment factory.

Two separate services are used within the SWIFT network: the FIN service is used to exchange single MT messages to banks connected to the network. This service is normally used to receive account statements such as MT940/2.

The second service used is called FileAct, and it is the service used to exchange any kind of file to banks. This service is mostly used for bulk payment files such as XML.

Joining the SWIFT network as a mean to consolidate payment operations in the company headquarter or in a shared service center can definitely bring efficiencies, but at the same time it makes sense to go through this road only if the company has the necessary resources to maintain a SWIFT connection overtime, or if it is willing to outsource the maintenance of the connection to a service bureau.

  • API-based connection: with the sharp rise of open banking in Europe, driven by the PSD2 regulation, the adoption of APIs is becoming more and more common among banks, corporates, and software vendors. An API, or Application Programming Interface, is an interface that allows a secure exchange of information among several software applications. Through an API, the company and the bank can exchange information such as payment files or account statements, without the need to setup and maintain a resource-intensive host-to-host connection.

Although it is a very interesting concept, most of the players in the financial industry still have to develop an adequate IT infrastructure in order to get the benefits of this new protocol.

An important role can be played by software vendors that are offering Enterprise Resource Providers or Treasury Management Systems, since they have a strong incentive to differentiate their offer by develop APIs that would connect their solution to the largest possible number of banks.

Who should manage your SWIFT connection, and why should it be FIS?

Every company that wishes to connect to the SWIFT network should ask itself which configuration is the best for them. The main question to consider for a company is if it has the adequate resources to manage and run a SWIFT connection, or if they want to leverage on a service bureau.

Companies that wish to setup and maintain their SWIFT connection should plan the IT resources required to host the SWIFT software, and the personnel that will be dedicated to fulfill all the functional and technical duties required by SWIFT or by the banks.

Because of the effort that is required to setup and maintain a SWIFT connection, a company might decide to outsource those tasks. A SWIFT service bureau can help companies to establish and ensure the availability of the SWIFT network overtime.

Via the Managed Bank Connectivity service, FIS offers its capabilities as one of the largest SWIFT service bureaus in the world, being a key partner for more than 350 groups of banks and corporates, spread in over 35 countries. As part of the Service Level Agreement that FIS has with its clients, service availability is set for a minimum of 99,5%, although the average uptime for 2020 was 99,99%.

Companies that choose to leverage on a service bureau are either those with a very limited staff within the treasury department, or those that have a very complex cash management infrastructure.

The cost of connecting to the SWIFT network via a service bureau can be quite relevant, therefore companies that are evaluating this kind of solution should create a comprehensive and accurate business case that includes both direct and indirect expenses for both alternatives.

Which variables should be considered?

A company should consider several variables when evaluating which is the most adequate connectivity setup.

  • The size of the business: it might sound overkill for a small corporate to adopt a SWIFT connection, in fact most of the small business normally rely on e-banking portals. More complicated connectivity choices are normally more expensive, and it might not be sustainable for a modest company to adopt more complex solutions
  • The number of markets the company is operating: multinational companies normally need several banks in order to do business internationally, therefore a company that is active in several countries might want to adopt a SWIFT connection in order to collect the daily account statements and to orchestrate their payment flows.
  • The number of banking relationships: a company that is operating with several banks might find difficult to maintain access to several e-banking portals. In this case, a company of this kind might want to evaluate a SWIFT connection, unless a country wide multibank standard is available.
  • The company treasury policies: there are several reasons for a company to centralize their payments at headquarter level, or to keep them at country or at division level. The choice of connectivity should reflect the processes in place within a company: in corporate groups where every country is responsible to issue their own transactions, and banking relationships are limited in number, e-banking platforms can work just fine, while on the other hand an international payment factory will most probably require access to the SWIFT network.

Whatever process should the company have in place, it should anyway explore a way to consolidate the account statements of all the subsidiary at headquarter level, in order for the holding company to have complete information on the liquidity situation at group level, and to make sure that liquidity is used in the best possible way.

How to choose the best connectivity solution?

If there is one thing that I have learned by talking to corporate treasurers overtime, it is that no treasury is alike, and every treasury has its own peculiarities.

Given the vast array of bank connectivity options, I will define a few examples of treasury infrastructure, and I will pair them to my recommended choice of connectivity.


Case

 

 

Recommended solution

 

 

Company Alfa

 

Alfa is a company based in the UK, producing semi-finished goods for the food industry. The production is completely sold to English companies, and all its suppliers are based in the UK.

Alfa has two bank accounts, with two English cooperative banks.

Through the e-banking portal of the two banking partner, Alfa will be able to perform all the necessary operations for its daily business.

 

Company Beta

 

Beta is the headquarter company of a large conglomerate of ventures, operating in several industries. Since the subsidiaries operate in very different markets, the group policy is for every subsidiary to manage their treasury separately, and to orchestrate their payments independently.

The group has relationships with around 30 banks, counting more than 600 bank accounts.

Every subsidiary of the Beta group will choose its most efficient setup, but the holding company will need to setup a channel to collect efficiently the account statement of all the 600 bank accounts of the group. This will allow Beta group to closely monitor the transactions and to efficiently use its liquidity.

Given the large number of bank relationship, my advice would be to setup a SWIFT connection.

 

Company Gamma

 

Gamma is a group of companies providing consulting services. The group has grown dramatically in the last years, acquiring smaller ventures around the world, and the CFO just hired a group treasurer that has the task to rationalize the banking relationships, and to setup the most efficient treasury infrastructure.

Payments are quite limited in number.

It would make sense for Gamma to look for a global bank with which to open bank accounts around the world.

By having one main bank, Gamma will easily orchestrate a cash pooling from its headquarter, and it will be easy for the group treasurer to control the payments that are performed by the local staff.

The most efficient connectivity scenario is a host-to-host connection (or a connection via API if available), with the main banking partner, while payments from minor bank accounts will be done via the e-banking.

 

Company Delta

 

Delta is a telecommunication company operating at global level. Due to the nature of its business, the company sends and collects a vast amount of payments of any size from retail and business customers located in several countries.

The company needs to offer the widest range of payment options, therefore it needs to have relevant banking relationships in many countries.

The best way to orchestrate payments and collections on such a complex company is to setup a connection to the SWIFT network.

Given the very complex cash management setup and the large number of banks involved, it will be essential to have the infrastructure served by a service bureau.

 

Company Epsilon

 

Epsilon is a company operating in the mining and trading industry, headquartered in Spain but with operations in other five countries.

The company needs to maintain a wide range of banking relationship due to the complex financing plans in place.

The treasury department employs a single person, and there is no plan for the company to hire more treasury staff.

Due to the complex landscape of banking relationships, and the need for the company to control the incoming and outgoing information flows to the banks, my advice would be to implement a SWIFT connection.

As highlighted in the box, it would be extremely hard for a single person to handle the requirements coming from SWIFT and the banks, therefore my suggestion is to adopt a Service Bureau

 

Conclusion – a complex matter requires a complex answer

As I do with most of the complex questions I receive, when asked which is the ideal connectivity setup for my company, my natural answer is: “it depends”.

The aim of this article was to communicate how sophisticated it can be to identify the best possible way to connect a corporate to a bank, or to several banks. My wish is for every treasurer out there to carefully balance all the options, and to include all the relevant items into a specific business case, in order to have a functioning and sustainable infrastructure.

More about the author, who is Luca Crivellari?

Luca is based in Italy and he is a Sales Executive at FIS, specialized in Corporate Liquidity solutions. He has a solid experience in cash management and treasury, having matured experiences in banking and fintech.

Thank you for reading!