Top 5 most common pain points in Treasury

14-02-2020 | treasuryXL | Michael Ringeling

The purpose of Treasury is to manage a company’s funding, liquidity and to mitigate its financial and other risk. Made up of three sub-disciplines, Treasury’s overall objective is to safeguard the company’s holdings and to follow the long-term strategy set forth by Corporate Finance (and strategy). Cash Management, on the other hand, is primarily focused on operational, short-term, efficiency and process optimisation, whereas Risk Management is oriented towards financial research and operational controls.

Michael Ringeling, corporate treasury expert,  made a top 5 of the most common pain points he encounters in Treasury, including consequences and a solution.

Top 5 of the most common pain points in Treasury

 

  1. Too many bank accounts at too many banks

Consequence:
Complex to manage, poor control, higher risk of fraud, higher costs, more KYC/AML requirements

Solution:
Less bank accounts at fewer banks, all via one or two electronic banking systems or multibank platform to manage payments and cash flows. The result will be more efficient, more secure and more cost-effective payment transactions, reporting and reconciliation into the ERP system.

  1. No reliable cash flow forecast

Consequence:
Poor liquidity management. Insecure about the required short and long term funding and poor management information.

Solution:
A good cash flow forecast, providing adequate insight in the organisation’s short and long term cash flows, will contribute to an efficient funding strategy and lower cost of funds.

  1. FX results, (negatively) impacting the company’s P&L

Consequence:
The company’s financial results are impacted by unforeseen and unknown FX results

Solution:
FX risk management analyses, create a FX policy and perform deal execution (hedging) to control FX results

  1. New Loan Agreement needed – negotiations

Consequence:
Difficulties in assessing if the loan terms and conditions are fair. Risk of overpriced loans and/or unfavorable terms and conditions required by the bank(s).

Solution:
Assist the company when negotiating with the bank(s) to get a fair deal with terms and conditions that will not unnecessary limit the company’s flexibility.

  1. Cash is trapped on too many stand alone bankaccounts around the world

Consequence:
Company cannot effectively use a significant amount of cash, resulting in higher (short term) loans and higher interest costs.

Solution:
Implementation of a cross border cross currency cash pool to centralise the company’s cash balances. As a result the amount of local trapped cash will be reduced and that cash can be used for general corporate purposes. Less short term loans and lower interest costs.

Sounds familiar?

Do you recognize the pain points that we mention above in your business? Or are you experiencing other critical treasury pain points in your business?

In our active network there are several treasury experts who can offer treasury support. They can be hired for specific projects or on a regular basis. Check Rent a Treasurer and let us help you.

 

Michael Ringeling

Corporate Treasurer Expert

Digitalization enhances the strategic position of the treasurer

| 27-12-2019 | TIStreasuryXL

Treasury departments are currently under pressure from two sides: Firstly, they are confronted with new regulatory changes for payment ecosystems, compliance regulations and provisions on combating money laundering and terrorist financing, which they must tackle by means of processes, technology and personnel. At the same time, digitalization is changing the business model of their companies. New technologies are coming to the fore, which redefine the payment area. The traditional, role, structure and staffing of the treasurer are thus being redefined. However, the opportunities of digitalization do not by any means poses a threat. Using them skillfully enables the treasurer to play a greater strategic role in future.

Cash and liquidity management, monitoring of accounts receivable and accounts payable accounting, budget and finance planning and financial risk management are the traditional core functions of the treasury as transaction and reporting center in the company. This is not going to change in the future either. What is new is that data material will be better exploited in the future by enhanced technologies. Among these technologies are: automation, artificial intelligence, big data analytics, machine learning, robotic process automation, open application programming interfaces (APIs) and cloud services. The “next generation treasurer” combines them to create a digital tool kit so he or she can become a more strategic bearer of risk and competence center for analytics in the company.

ENGAGE IN WINNING HORIZONTAL THINKING

Digitalization is a horizontal phenomenon. It affects traditional industries, their definition and boundaries. Companies are no longer attacked in the core of their industry, but at the perimeter. Those who do not pay attention, but restrict their strategy to their own industry, will be among the losers. However, those who engage in winning horizontal thinking – platform strategies, user-centric thinking, etc. – are much more immune from unpleasant surprises. Because these thought patterns are very similar across industries. We can shape our own future by borrowing from other industries. This can be transferred to the company level: The treasurer can also connect to new predictive maintenance technologies.

Changes in the treasury due to digitalization are already apparent and even acknowledged by the industry: In the middle of 2018, the British Economist Intelligence Unit conducted a study among European Senior Corporate Treasurers on behalf of Deutsche Bank. More than half of those questioned stated that their company had already changed its business model on the basis of disruptive technologies and this had a (negative) impact on their area of activity. Thus, significant innovations can be found in the areas of multi-channel payments, mobile solutions and product lifecycle of supply chains.

DIGITAL ICING ON THE CAKE IS NOT ENOUGH

The fact that a negative impact is perceived or even feared is reflected in the ingrained “gut instinct” of the treasurer as custodian of the company finances. The analysts of the Economist Intelligence Unit discovered that many were still not ready for the enhancement of their traditional role. The industry must break free from this role as a response to digitalization. It needs a stronger entrepreneurial perspective which seizes new opportunities instead of lying in wait for threats. Because digital technologies give you the opportunity to carry out formerly manually performed processes faster and more efficiently by means of automation. This creates room for new themes and strategic participation.

It is not just a question of using new technologies within existing systems. Too often the focus remains fixed on more efficiency, automation and incremental advancement of existing technology. Covering up old business processes and putting “digital icing on the cake” lead to the past. Those who think like that have not understood the fundamental ideas of digital transformation, which read: Innovative technologies first open the door for completely new business models and processes which would have been utterly inconceivable without them. What is required is not just a digital strategy, but a business or company strategy in which digital technologies become an integral part of the value chain architecture. Digitalization as a means to an end for future business goals!

DATA IS THE TREASURER’S NEW GOLD

“Software is eating the world”, it used to be said. Today, data is the new gold Liquidity data, payment flows and cash flows in real time contain essential information, which can only be properly evaluated by the available technology today. Thus, they become the treasurer’s “gold nugget”. Cloud-based payment platforms such as TIS are the basis for making data available in real time to central office. The treasurer can evaluate it with AI software, can train neural networks with his or her payment patterns and receive solvency forecasts of individual clients, who are just as relevant for Purchasing as for Sales, the CFO or Executive Board. He or she provides his or her business partners with information, which is not just recommendations for action at an overall holistic level. But they reach down to the level of individual customers or customer classes.

Meanwhile, banks have a regulatory obligation to open their business processes to the public via open API. They can broaden the scope of cooperation to include Fintechs and integrate process steps faster, which these may master better, into the business process landscape via open interfaces. The open API concept requires openness and readiness to adapt the function to the new mindset. Treasurers must learn to think in accordance with the open API framework.

SPARRING PARTNER FOR THE CEO

Those who use the new data analysis opportunities will be a relevant sparring partner for the CFO/CEO. The treasurer is in an ideal starting position, because he or she is at the source: where the cash is. Especially in a volatile, complex business environment, a free cash flow buffer is precisely the currency that a company requires for experiments in the area of digital transformation. The treasurer thus plays a strategic role – less in the sense of long-term planning as before, but rather in such a way that the company can now, with his help, perform agile capital allocation for experiments.

DOES ONE WANT TO REMAIN A TREASURER?

Treasurers need not fear being disrupted if they are ready to think outside the box and jump at new opportunities.

They have the potential to take on a more creative role in the company, to contribute to new business models and to adopt a strategic position. This also requires a new mental model. Does one want to remain a treasurer? Or does one acquire skills in the areas of software engineering, data science and project management or lead a team comprising these disciplines. This should no longer even be a question for the next-generation treasurer.

DIGITALIZATION PLACES NEW DEMANDS

The treasurer of tomorrow…

  • pro-actively contributes to his or her company reaching competitive advantages in an uncertain business environment.
  • creates the financial conditions for an entrepreneurial, exploratory and agile organizational development.
  • becomes strategic advisor for the CFO and Executive Board during the change to new digital business models.
  • uses digital technologies to meet the demand of the company for real time financial information and to intensify cooperation with suppliers and banks (via open APIs).
  • deals with ethical questions connected with artificial intelligence and new risks (cybercrime)

About the author: TIS

TIS (Treasury Intelligence Solutions GmbH) based in Walldorf has been combining experience and competence in financial planning since 2010, with particular expertise in cloud
computing. The result is the TIS solution: a comprehensive,highly scalable cloud platform for managing company-wide
payments, liquidity, and banking relationships worldwide. TIS enables SMART PAYMENTS to help the customer make better decisions by analyzing financial and operative performance on
the basis of the real time of the payment flows. The TIS solution has been successfully used for years in medium-sized and
large companies, such as Fresenius, DACHSER, BearingPoint, Heidelberger Druckmaschinen, Marquard & Bahls and Swiss Airlines. TIS provides Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and offers
internationally operating customers key advantages, such as lower costs, risk prevention, a higher degree of transparency, shorter integration times, fast worldwide roll-outs and smooth
updates. The high level of security and deep integration of the platform with existing ERP systems are attested by the ISO-27001, SOC 1 and 2, as well as SAP certifications. Financial
Times and Statista recognize TIS as one of Europe’s Fastest Growing Companies 2019.
Further information can be found at www.tis.biz/en

About the author: Dr. Carsten Linz

Dr. Carsten Linz is a proven expert in entrepreneurial leadership, innovation and business model transformation. As a multiple entrepreneur and New Business Developer he has built up several hundred million EUR-business in the course of his career. He was also responsible for transformation programs for up to 60,000 employees. For SAP, he leads the Center for Digital Leadership, a renowned think tank for next generation digital innovation and transformation approaches. Mr. Linz is active as a business angel and in the investment committee of the largest European seed fund and holds several advisory board seats.

As an extended faculty member, he teaches Executive MBA courses at the Mannheim Business School, the European School of Management & Technology Berlin, the University
of St. Gallen and the Stanford Graduate School. He is the author of several books, among them “Radical Business Model Transformation: How to Gain the Competitive Edge
in a Disruptive World,” which was awarded the Top Business Book 2018 and translated into five languages. His articles have appeared in Forbes, Harvard Business Review / Managers, ZDNet, Computerwoche, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, D!gitalist Magazine, CIO Magazine.

Dr. Linz was named “Top 100 Digital Influencer”, awarded the “Innovation Landmark” by the German Federal President, awarded the “Award of Excellence” by the Global Institute of Logistics, and named “Leader” in the Gartner Magic Quadrant. He is an advisory member of the Digital Enterprise and Digital Platforms & Ecosystems projects of the World Economic Forum. Dr. Linz is a sought-after keynote speaker (London Speaker Bureau) and advises board members all over the world.

Go to TIS partner page

Recap of the SCF Forum and Awards event 2019

| 23-12-2019 | by treasuryXL |

On the 28th November 2019, treasuryXL attended the SCF forum Europe 2019 in Amsterdam – an annual event. Here is our review of the day.

So, what is Supply Chain Finance (SCF)?

It is a series of processes, both financial and technological, designed to improve business efficiency and reduce financing costs by providing bespoke short-term funding solutions for both buyers and sellers, with a view to improving and enhancing working capital and liquidity for both buyers and suppliers.

There are three parties involved – buyers, suppliers and financial providers. Traditionally, banks acted as the provider of funding but, with the advent of fintech other non-bank firms are also offering solutions.

The ultimate purpose of SCF is to improve the cashflows for both buyers and suppliers.

Participants included banks, fintech, academia, together with companies that use SCF solutions such as DFDS, Airbus and Jumbo supermarkets.

The forum started off outlining the major themes surrounding SCF that needed to be considered:

  • Data collection and analysis
  • Education
  • Financial Flows
  • Procurement
  • Logistics – the missing link
  • Inclusiveness
  • Sustainability

Time was given to highlighting the awareness needed to form a true collaboration with all participants – intra firm, inter firm as well as the supply chain itself. No one department can successfully implement SCF on their own – it requires the input from a wide range of departments.

Rabobank gave a talk about trade and its impact on poverty. Between 1900 and 1950 Europe and the USA moved ahead, economically, from the Far East and Africa. Since the financial crisis of 2008 the middle ground of Europe and the USA has been squeezed and whilst poverty has decreased worldwide, the levels of inequality between income and wealth had risen back to the levels of the 1920’s.

Whilst trade tariffs are on their way down, trade barriers have been rising.

Politically the near future is likely to bring about new confrontations on world trade:

  • USA – China
  • Brexit
  • Capital controls to counter tariffs
  • Restrictions on foreign ownership

DFDS – case study

DFDS are a Danish shipping and logistics company, focusing also on ferries and door-to-door solutions. From an environmental view they have big concerns about the impact of logistics on world climate. Their aim for the future is to be smarter, cheaper and to have less impact on the environment. On the logistics side they must be more cost efficient as they operate in a market with small margins and large competitors.

As data has grown exponentially, they have embarked on an extensive SCF programme that has seen their return on invested capital improve from 5% in 2012 to 19% in 2017.

Major challenges are still to be faced – especially because of Brexit as 45% of their business goes through the UK. Hauliers in the UK are especially worried. This sector of the industry is best suited to younger truck drivers (there is a 73% satisfaction rating amongst drivers between 18-24 year olds), but problems are evident in the lack of female drivers and an average age for drivers of 50 years old and rising all the time.

DFDS strives to help hauliers via SCF by paying early with discounts. This had led to both an improvement in working capital fo DFDS as well as hauliers – one was able to purchase 10 extra trucks by being paid early.

Jumbo – case study

Jumbo is the second largest supermarket chain in the Netherlands with a 21.6% market share. Their growth in turnover has been impressive – from EUR 120m in 1996 to EUR 8.5bn in 2019. There is a strong impetus to manage the needs of both the suppliers and the company. Whilst Jumbo has grown rapidly a lot of their small suppliers had trouble keeping pace especially with the terms and conditions that existed before the implementation of SCF solutions. As and when Jumbo grows, their suppliers need to follow and 80% of their suppliers are defined as SME (Small and Medium Enterprises).

Jumbo has implemented a variety of different solutions to meet the needs of their suppliers, such as reverse factoring, dynamic discounting etc. It was important for Jumbo that the suppliers got on board with the programme – they have more than 1000 small suppliers. There was a 63% pickup in the first few months.

Moodys – word of warning

One of the main instruments used in SCF is reverse factoring, which differs markedly from traditional factoring. Reverse factoring is initiated by the ordering party – the buyer. As they are normally the larger party to an agreement their credit standing is of a higher order than the supplier – hence their interest costs are lower than for the supplier. With reverse factoring suppliers get paid early and buyers can delay payment to the factor (financial counterparty). However, the liability rests with the buyer.

Whilst it is increasing in popularity as a source of financing it can lead to a weakening of liquidity. Rating agencies are grappling with the legal consequences and lack of disclosure of reverse factoring. Now there is no legal requirement to disclose how much reverse factoring is on the books. This can lead to an incorrect picture of the financial health of a company. Companies that embraced Reverse Factoring but eventually suffered as result include Carillion, Abengoa and Distribuidora International de Alimentacion.

Big Data and AI

With the advent of ever more computing power it has become possible to analyse increasing amounts of data. This will lead to big changes in SCF through the use of Artificial Intelligence such as:

  • Traditional SCF
  • Fintech solutions
  • AI powered SCF solutions
  • Blockchain and Internet of Things

However, whilst embracing technology solutions we must not lose sight of old axioms such as “garbage in is garbage out”. It will be necessary to truly understand the flow of data, the variables and the output. Modern history has plenty of examples of large sources of data and experts, leading to losses and mistakes as well as profits and rewards.

Conclusions

  • A truly collaborative arrangement both internally and externally
  • Greater understanding of the business drivers
  • Improved early payment for suppliers
  • Chance to delay payments for buyers
  • Mutual transfer of knowledge and requirements for both parties
  • Improved relationships
  • Need to onboard all relevant departments

The opening quote at the forum was “Bridging physical and financial supply chains”. The one area that I, personally, felt was missing was the impact on the circular economy. Whilst there was talk on sustainability and global climate, I wished to hear more about how to increase the effective use of assets – trucks going to clients full and then returning empty, etc.

Maybe that can be a “hot item” for next year’s forum.

 

 

 

 

 

Lionel Pavey

Cash Management and Treasury Specialist

 

To swap, or not to swap that is the question

30-9-2019 | Marco Lassche |

Cash management in different currencies:
The FX swap, a way to optimize your interest result

Years ago, when I made my first baby steps in the world of Treasury at Bank Mendes Gans, my old teachers Jan Loohuis and Aart-Jan Lensvelt, taught me some good lessons. One of them, that I always used in the companies that I have worked for, is this one.

What if you have temporary an overall negative position in one currency (e.g. -/- EUR 10 mio) and an overall positive position in another currency (e.g. +/+ USD 11 mio)?

Basically you have two easy ways to manage this liquidity position and optimize your interest result. Both ways lead to Rome:

  • Keep the balances in your bank account
  • You swap the balances in different currencies temporary by means of a FX-swap

Option 1: Keep the balances in your bank account
This option does not need much clarification.

  • For your debit balance you pay interest (basic interest +/+ margin)
  • For your credit balance you receive credit interest (basic interest -/- margin

Option 2: The FX swap
In a FX swap you do a trade in your FX trade portal, in which you exchange the bank balances at a spot date (at the spot rate) and you reverse it at a future date (at the forward-rate). You do the trade at the same time, so no FX risk is involved.

Forward FX-rates are being calculated directly from the spot FX-rate and are adjusted for the difference in interest rates between the two currencies.

FX swap visualised

Option 1 or option 2?
When the interest rate difference between the two currencies is more attractive in option 1, you keep your bank balances. When the interest rate difference between two currencies is more attractive in option 2, you swap.

Example
I would like to clarify it by an example in which we have a EUR balance of -/- EUR 10 mio and a
USD balance of +/+ USD 11 mio. We will swap the currencies for 1 month (30 days).

Interest results after 30 days

Option 1) Interest result by keeping balances in your bank account

Total interest proceeds in USD: EUR 2,708 * 1.1000 = USD 2,979 + USD 18,563 = USD 21,542.
Interest rate difference between USD and EUR: 2,35% (2.025% -/- 0.325%).

Option 2) Interest result by swapping balances

Interest result FX swap

At the start date we buy EUR 10 mio, and sell USD 11 mio at the spot rate 1.1000.
At the end date, after 30 days, we reverse the trade as we agreed with the bank:
We sell EUR 10 mio, and buy USD 11,025,770 at the agreed forward rate 1.102577

Our total interest rate difference proceeds is USD 11,025,770 – USD 11,000,000 = USD 25,770.

Conclusion:
In this example the FX swap is USD4,200 more attractive than keeping the account balances like it is. Of course, this is not always the case, but a FX swap can be a good alternative in many cases.

* How to calculate the interest rate difference between two currencies in a FX swap
As previously said, the difference in spot and forward rates, can be explained by the interest rate difference between two currencies, We calculate the interest rate differences as follows:

Forward Rate on annual basis / Spot Rate

As interest percentages are always based on 1 year we multiply the 30 days forward points by 12 to get to 1 year forward points (EUR and USD, calculate 360 days in a year, GBP e.g. 365 days).
The forward points for 30 days: 25.77, which means for one year 12 * 25.77 = 309.24
Forward rate on annual basis: 1.130924

Spot rate: 1.1000

1.130924/1.1000 = + 2,81%

Please feel free to contact me if you need any further information.

 

 

 

 

Marco Lassche 

Founder and Owner of at Bedrijfskostenexpert

The Role of Netting in Cash Management

|13-8-2019 | treasuryXL | BELLIN

Increased cash flow efficiency, faster cash allocation and optimized FX management

Cash management is every company’s bread and butter. Considerably fewer companies make use of netting, despite its many advantages for cash management.

 

 

 



Netting supports companies in making their cash management more efficient and less costly by
:

  • Boosting cash flow efficiency,
  • Consolidating invoices and enabling faster cash allocation,
  • Allowing companies to better calculate their FX exposure and hedge it strategically.

Cash management

Through cash management, companies ensure they can always meet their financial obligations. It allows them to allocate the required liquidity to the right entity, at the right time, in the right currency. For treasury to achieve that, all incoming and outgoing payments as well as account balances and forecasts must be visible. With access to complete and up-to-date information, treasury can monitor processes, plan liquidity based on forecasts and strategically manage cash in different currencies.

Netting

Companies that have implemented netting offset cash flow obligations between two parties and consolidate them to a net payment. Most companies use netting for balancing intercompany trade flows. However, it is also possible to integrate other parties as netting participants. Using internally-agreed conversion rates, companies can engage in cross-currency netting.

More information on netting: Netting: An Immersive Guide to Global Reconciliation

Videos on Reconciliation and Netting and Cash Management

The impact of netting on cash management

Netting takes a specific proportion of all cash flows and places them within the framework of a dedicated and structured process. This process, the netting run, is repeated at regular intervals. It can be divided into four steps:

  1. Data import
    Data is imported from the ERP system to the netting system.
  2. Data reconciliation
    The netting system automatically matches and consolidates submitted payables and receivables based on pre-defined parameters and creates a netting statement.
  3. Data sharing
    Once data has been matched and invoices consolidated, the netting center communicates the net amount to every netting run participant. It can be issued in their currency of choice.
  4. End of cycle
    The netting center makes one single payment to participants with a positive balance. Participants with a negative balance make one net payment to the netting center.

netting run

Netting boosts cash flow efficiency

By offsetting payables and receivables, netting reduces the number of transactions. In turn, this reduces cash-in-transit. And reduced cash-in-transit and minimal transactions make for reduced efforts when it comes to procuring liquidity, interest burden and payment processing.

In addition, the schedule of the netting run means payments are made on a specific date: instead of having to monitor countless different dates, treasury can lean back and wait for the end of the netting cycle.

Netting makes the lives of cash managers much more linear: they can plan accurately and allocate the exact amounts of required funds to accounts. This means that the company can keep floating assets to a minimum. Netting lends structure to complex processes and ensures opitmal allocation of cash flows.

Netting accelerates cash consolidation and allocation

All transactions between two parties result in accounts receivable for one company and accounts payable for the counterparty. The respective journal entry must show a zero balance. However, without a structured process in place, consolidation efforts are often far from straightforward. The different parties pursue different interests – either receivable- or payable-driven.

A good netting process seeks agreement between the parties and allows them to clarify any disagreements within a structured and automated framework. Agreement-driven netting encourages participants to submit accurate data. This makes for a much faster reconciliation process and makes it possible to automate several steps of the netting cycle. A speedy reconciliation process is followed by swift payment processing –  directly in the system and with one click – and makes for greater efficiency.

Faster consolidation has a positive impact on cash flows. At the same time, netting saves treasurers valuable time when it comes to monitoring invoices. Conversely, accountants no longer need to waste hours matching invoices. On average, time savings amount to 1-2 man-days per month per entity. For a group consisting of 10 entities, this equals 10 to 20 days per month and 240 days per year – a full-time position that can be dedicated to other tasks that add real value to the company.

 

Netting saves time

Netting optimizes FX management

Netting makes it easier for companies to manage their FX exposure, i.e. to optimize their FX management.

The payment terms defined as part of the netting cycle govern the timeframe between issuing an invoice and paying it. Companies that use cross-currency netting also set internal conversion rates for the currencies in question that apply to the respective netting cycle.

Having defined dates and rates, treasurers gain insight into an entity’s hedging requirements for a specific time period and can consolidate this sum to one hedging transaction. The netting center also defines the settlement price that is used to convert each entity’s FX payments to the respective settlement currency. This creates implicit hedging. The netting center can post and settle the transactions for each netting run participant without impacting the FX result. Entities transfer their actual currency exposure to the netting center, where it can be hedged strategically.

How netting optimizes FX management – an example:

As part of a monthly netting cycle, a company defines a payment term of 30 days. An entity issues and posts an invoice in March, which is paid in April. In February, the netting center defines the FX rate for March, and the March rate is identical with the settlement price for April. The netting center has complete visibility of currency requirements and can hedge the FX exposure centrally. Transaction and conversion costs are reduced to a minimum.

Netting FX-Management

 

Netting and cash management in a nutshell:

Netting is a powerful tool for companies to optimize their cash management. Netting lends structure to offsetting cash flows and puts them into a clearly defined timeframe, the netting cycle. This has the following benefits:

  • Very precise account planning
  • More efficient cash flows
  • Faster consolidation
  • Option to automate processes
  • Speeding up of the cash allocation process
  • Visibility of FX requirements
  • Strategic FX hedging

Interested in finding out more about whether netting is the right solution for you? Give BELLIN a shout or check out tm5, our intuitive treasury management system.

 

 

The principles of multilateral netting: what, why and how

| 27-06-2019 | ENIGMA Consulting |

 

 

This article is meant as an introduction to the process of multilateral netting for international companies. It describes the fundamental concept of netting, the steps within the netting process and the ultimate benefits of netting. In addition, we elaborate upon the role of technology in netting and prepared a checklist for anyone that considers using netting in their company.

1. What is (multilateral) netting?

Netting is the process of consolidating payables against receivables between parties. Rather than settling each individual invoice leading to a large volumes of transactions, parties can consolidate invoices and agree upon one net payment stream. In the majority of the cases, netting is set up between internal group entities as parties for settling their intercompany invoices, but external (third) parties could participate in a netting process as well.

Most of the netting methodologies are either payables- or receivables-driven. In a payables-driven system, payables are netted against the payables of the other participants and in a receivables-driven system, receivables are used. Note that in the end it is (or should be) a zero sum game: intercompany receivables = intercompany payables.

If there are only two parties involved in the netting process it is called bilateral netting. If there are more than two parties involved that use a central entity to interact for all their intercompany transactions then the process is called multilateral netting. The figures below illustrate the differences between the payment flows before and after implementing a multilateral netting solution using a central entity (netting center).

Intercompany process without multilateral netting          Intercompany process with multilateral netting

2. How does the multilateral netting process works?

In general, the netting process (netting cycle) involves the steps outlined below:

Step 1: Collect invoice details from local entities
The first step is to have the local subsidiaries send their invoices to the netting center. Usually there is a central database where all the received invoices are collected. See also chapter 4 on technology.

Step 2: Verify / dispute invoices in the netting cycle
When invoices between two parties do not (automatically) match they should be investigated and disputes should be managed.

Step 3: Communicate netting balances to local entities
Once all invoices are reconciled, the netting center will calculate and send a netting statement to each of the local entities containing the balance that they will receive or need to pay.

Step 4: Settlement via cash or intercompany booking
The netting center distributes payments to the local entities that have positive balances. Local entities with negative balances will have to make a payment to the netting center. After the netting cycle is closed, a new round of collecting invoices will start (step 1).

3. Why use multilateral netting?

There are numerous advantages to those corporates that deploy multilateral netting:

  1. Reducing bank and transaction costs as a result of less funding transactions, less FX accounts and trades and savings on FX spreads, volumes and commissions. The pricing of FX deals can improve as the total number of FX transactions is consolidated into larger trades.
  2. Centralizing FX management as the netting center has the complete overview of currency requirements and is better able to hedge FX exposure.
  3. Standardizing the intercompany settlement process, creating both a single transparent approach throughout the company and discipline with regard to intercompany procedures and dispute management. This, in turn, can also minimize operational risks while maximize the operational efficiency.
  4. Improving the posting of intercompany invoices and reconciliation. By automizing this process (see chapter 4 on technology) not only treasury but also the accounting department benefits from netting.

For those international companies treating multilateral netting as part of their treasury roadmap it is possible to further enhance the benefits of netting by linking it with cash management. Integrating the use of a netting center with an in-house bank (IHB) can eliminate the use of physical cash payments by settling the net balances via the IHB.

So, for which companies it is worthwhile to consider multilateral netting? Corporates that have various (decentralized) local entities and various currencies and that have continuous multiple intercompany transactions between the local entities.

4. How can technology help

Technology and systems are key for an efficient and automated netting process. Examples of this are the following:

  1. Data collection
    The netting center relies on external input from its participants in order to reconcile invoices and calculate final settlements. The A/P and A/R invoices should therefore be collected from the ERP system and be sent to the netting center each netting period. Automation of the data collection will help the consistency and reliability of the data input for the netting process
  2. Netting calculation
    For the netting calculation, systems are crucial as the calculation for multiple invoices from multiple parties, in multiple FX can be quite complex.
  3. Dispute management
    Where invoices are sent, disputes can occur. These disputes can originate from administrative issues or be business-oriented. In a complex environment with multiple transactions occurring daily, disputes can often be overlooked. Systems are a helpful tool in providing an internal dispute management system.
  4. Liquidity management and settlement
    Upon the completion of a netting run and all invoices being reconciled, each company will receive a final netting statement, containing their new balance to be paid to or received from the netting centre. When a subsidiary is due to owe money to the netting centre, they will have various settlement possibilities available for use, and systems play an inevitable role to support these settlements. Subsidiaries can settle via bank account wires, take internal loans from the group treasury or book via intercompany accounts. Systems can be used to streamline the settlement process.
  5. Audit trail
    Some systems can provide a fully audit trail on all key variables in the netting process.
  6. Transparency and less manual tasks
    When all stakeholders of the netting process are using one central system where everybody has access to, there is only ‘one source of truth’ that increases transparency and supports consistent involvement of all parties. Systems will also diminish the manual tasks in the process and decrease the vulnerability to errors.

Which system is used for the netting process depends very much on the system landscape of the company. Roughly there are three options:

  1. ERP system
    As the source of the A/R and A/P is the ERP, it makes a lot of sense to use the ERP for the netting process as well. In the following situations the ERP system is not ideal option:
    – when the company has multiple ERP systems
    – when the ERP system lacks netting functionality
    – when treasury has limited access to the ERP for the (internal or physical) settlement of the transactions
  2. Treasury Management System (TMS)
    Many TMS providers can deliver netting functionality that support the full netting cycle. Preferably the netting process is then set up with automatic upload/download interfaces for the input and output data from/to the ERP system(s). It requires that the treasury department takes the lead in the set up and management of the netting process.
  3. Dedicated netting software
    There is variety of other dedicated netting systems available where the netting process can take place. Interfacing with the TMS and the ERP is then even more important. Some companies also use Excel spread sheets for their netting process and that can still be practical solution if there are only limited parties involved, few internal invoices and a small number of currencies.
5. Checklist

To prepare the business case for setting up a netting process that meets the specific requirements of the organization, the checklist of questions below can be used.

Checklist
1. How many currencies are used for internal invoices?
2. What is the number of local entities?
3. What is the total amount of internal invoices per month, what is the monthly value and who are the counterparties of these invoices?
4. What is the background of the internal invoices: trade, interest, royalties, dividend, hedge contracts internal, fees, loan repayments, investments etc.?
5. In what countries are internal invoices send/received?
6. Which exchange control regulations are existing for cross border transfers and what are the fiscal and legal consequences of netting intercompany transactions?
7. How does the system landscape looks like, where is data stored and in which system(s) will the netting process takes place?
8. Where does FX management take place within the organization and how will that be impacted by the set-up of a netting process?
9. To assess the options for settlement of internal invoices:
– How does the current bank (accounts) landscape looks like?
– Is there already an in-house bank (IHB) structure set up?
10. What are the organizational consequences with respect to the treasury department, accounting processes and corporate policies?
11. Are there adequate resources available in the organization at the relevant departments (such as accounting, IT and treasury) to set up the netting process?

Dominic Hoogendijk and Bas Kolenburg are experienced senior treasury consultants working for Enigma Consulting. Enigma Consulting is a trusted advisor in Payments, Risk & Compliance and Treasury with over 20 years of experience. Enigma Consulting serves all Dutch financial institutions, many (international) corporates and charity organizations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does technology actually help you improve your cash management?

| 31-5-2018 | Nicolas Christiaen | Cashforce |

It is a question that many companies have been asking themselves for the past few years. Innovative, dedicated technologies may be very exciting, but the question remains: Are they worth the investment?

We believe the answer is yes, but understanding the technology & its shortcomings are key to exploiting its full potential. Companies that are missing today’s “FinTech train” might find themselves in precarious situations in the future. They risk becoming relatively less productive and might lack insights that their technology-driven competitors will have. This is certainly true when it comes to Cash & Working Capital Management. Technology is definitely an asset in today’s world, as it can help us driving value from working capital. Interconnectivity has risen significantly, with the surge of in-house banks, cash pooling, POBO, ROBO, etc., forcing treasury departments to keep up with the pace and find ways to manage complex treasury set-ups. On top of that, the number of transactions has grown to such a level that only high-level calculations can be done by humans. Technology helps companies to deal with this magnitude of data and reduces complexity by bringing visibility in companies’ cash flows.

Also, the surge of centralization (look at the number of centralized treasury teams) reduced the number of double tasks and improved the efficiency of Treasury Operations. However, at the same time, keeping treasury connected with the business is becoming the new challenge. In this continuous paradox, technology will prove helpful in connecting both worlds.

However, we need a good understanding of limits & shortcomings of technology too. Today’s systems are capable of calculating expected outcomes & action plans based on a set of parameters. However, technology is not smart enough yet to take into account all parameters (like macro-economic parameters, unexpected events, changes of policies) & and most of all human (= irrational) behavior.

There is a legitimate drive towards using technology, as complexity rises, as is the need for more transparency. Two interesting evolutions are simultaneously taking place: Niche players are betting on making the technology smarter, whilst corporates are getting better at smartly using that technology. There is no reason to believe this will stop in the near future.

 

 

 

Nicolas Christiaen

Managing Partner at Cashforce

 

Cash management – Mandatory truck system

| 9-8-2017 | Douwe Dijkstra |

As an interim treasurer, several times when I commence a new assignment at a new client for a cash management implementation the bank selection for the cash management solution to be implemented has already been done. Not by the treasury (or any other) department, based on a request for proposal or any other selection criteria but as a result of the mandatory truck system (“verplichte winkelnering”).

The bank, or in case of a syndication the banks, already defined in the (syndicated) facility agreement which bank(s) will operate the borrowers cash management.

It goes without saying that this obligation means that not always the best choice for the company has been made. The “best cash management bank” can be different for each and every company (although some banks may pretend to have the best solution in all areas for all companies). Important criteria are whether a company is centralized or decentralized, what specific products the client requires from the bank, the price list of the bank, the foot print of the bank etc. etc.

It’s my observation that officers negotiating the (re)financing consider cash management as the way it is described e.g. “side business”. Banks try to make the decision makers for the facility agreement believe that they do not earn anything on it. Thus, the circle is complete.

Douwe Dijkstra

 

 

Douwe Dijkstra

Owner of Albatros Beheer & Management

 

 

How can Cash Management improve your Cash Conversion Cycle part III

| 07-10-2016 | Olivier Werlingshoff |

credit-card-851502_960_720This week an article about the underestimation of cash management on LinkedIn caught my attention. 50% of the companies even doesn’t see the added value of a good cash flow forecast! This does not surprise me and therefore gave me a reason to pick up the pen and write another article on how to improve your cash conversion cycle!

In my two previous articles I gave some examples of how cash management could improve the DSO and the DIO but, what about the DPO? The DPO is an efficiency ratio that measures the average number of days a company takes to pay its suppliers. The more days, the better your cash conversion cycle will be.

Extend payment terms

The first action that can be taken is to extend your payment terms. In the payments barometer from Atradius of 2016 you can find an overview of all payment terms and average DSO for all countries in Western Europe. The reasons why payments are delayed are also mentioned.

The average given payment term to B2B customers in The Netherlands is 27 days, the average DSO is 42 days! Most of the time the first action that is taken when companies have liquidity problems is to extend their payments. The negative aspects of this action can be major. The first aspect is the impact this action has on your supplier, because he has to wait to receive his money. He will then have to look for alternative borrow possibilities. Besides the negative relationships, the extra costs will probably be include in his next price. Suppliers can also decide only to send you the goods when paid in advance.

As you can read this action can have a boomerang effect.

Reverse factoring

A possibility to extend your payment term without all negative effects is to use reverse factoring. With reverse factoring you give the possibility to your supplier to receive more favorable financial terms than they would have otherwise received for a loan.

The effect could be that the relationship between you and the supplier can be improved and you still can extend your payments.

Single payment solution

Another solution is to decrease your banking transfer time of a payment. If you have a lot of foreign suppliers, transfer times can easily be extended, especially when you need to use correspondent banks.

Using banks with an international presence as well as a single payment solution will facilitate you to follow your payment and use the fastest transfer method. By doing so, you can delay the moment of payment and still pay on time.

Within the EU you can make direct payments as a SEPA payment, because there are no borders anymore for money transfers. You don’t need local accounts anymore to facilitate and accelerate your payments.

 

Olivier Werlingshoff - editor treasuryXL

 

 

Olivier Werlingshoff

Owner of WERFIAD

 

How to improve Cash Awareness without targets

| 08-06-2016 | Olivier Werlingshoff |

cashawarenessMany CFO’s and Financial Managers would like to improve the cash awareness inside their companies. The most obvious action is to set up financial targets but how could a change of mindset be reached without new targets? One way is to see cash awareness as a product and to try to sell this product inside the company.

If cash awareness is a product; what are the benefits of this product, why would someone like to buy this new product? In fact, you would have to develop a marketing approach and analyze some of the marketing P’s. I will give you some examples:

Product:

Try to translate Cash Awareness into a product. You could use the term “Cash is King” and find an appropriate symbol or picture for it.

The second step is to enumerate the benefits of cash awareness for the company. One of the benefits is looking at different business processes from a cash point of view. Those processes could probably be improved in a way where liquidities could be released from the company in a faster way.

For example: if you send the invoice by mail the same day you receive the order from your client, you will receive the money faster.

Promotion:

When you know how to make Cash Awareness visible, you have to work on the promotion of it. To give you a few ideas: the first thing I did was getting a ‘Cash King cup’. Every three months I gave the Cup, with his or her name on it, to the colleague with the best idea on how to improve the release of liquidities. I made a picture of him or her with the Cash King cup and mailed it inside the company and put it on the intranet.

To ensure everybody was there when the Cup was awarded, posters were hang and (senior) managers were invited to come to the event. Encourage managers to come by inviting some directors of the company and ask them to give a presentation!

During the event you can give an update of all the ideas you received from colleagues to improve processes and what the financial benefits are of those ideas. To ensure the idea will be implemented you have to make sure the colleague is responsible for his or her idea and try to get the support from the management so it could be implemented. Be aware that without their support it would be difficult to implement the idea!

Positioning:

A third P is the P of Positioning. Develop a habit of constantly looking at the positioning of the product “Cash Awareness” in the company. Think and check how your colleagues think and talk about Cash Awareness when you are not in. You could do this by “walking around” and listening.

Once you have developed your marketing strategy, you should use the “P formula” to continually evaluate and re-evaluate your activities.

Olivier Werlingshoff - editor treasuryXL

 

 

Olivier Werlingshoff

Owner of WERFIAD