Posts

Does your treasury have a digital mindset?

| 25-9-2017 | Patrick Kunz |

 

In an previous article I have talked about the IT changes that make life easier for a treasurer in the future (or now already). In this article I want to talk about the digital mindset of the person using the IT – the treasurer. Treasury is a numbers game. We treasurers use these numbers to optimise the cash or risk of the company. We make money with money. These numbers have to come from somewhere in the organisation and it is usually never treasury itself.

BIG data

Big data is a hot topic in treasury but for treasury it was around longer. The treasurer needs to get their input information for all over the company. Cash inflow from sales, cash outflow from procurement and investment teams, HR etc. All this data needs to be gathered. The digital minded treasurer thinks about optimal ways of gathering this data: automatically. The treasurer starts its day with the actual cash balances and then looks forward. He/She basically needs to predict the future. How great would it be if all this data would be available with the push on a button. An ideal world ? Maybe, but it is possible. Bank statements can be automated to be loaded collectively or in a Treasury Management System. The treasurer starts the day with up to date cash balances, and he has not started working yet as this was automated. He then updates the cash forecast. How? By pushing update in his cash forecasting system. Sounds too easy? True, it took weeks to find out where to find the needed input information and to automate getting this data grouped together and in a structured way. But a digital minded treasurer knows that the data is somewhere in the organisation; it only needs to found and linked to the treasurers information recourses so it is always available. The treasurer only has to check the validity and the quality of the data and see if it needs improvement. In this way the digital minded treasurer can automatically create a cash forecast and continually improve it. A cash forecast should be ready before the second morning coffee. In an ideal world it would be ready with a push on a button. Artificial intelligence makes it possible. The digital minded treasurer is steering it.

Process improvements

The digital treasurer looks at ways to improve its document flows and payments. Not only looking at costs but also looking at how many (manual) interventions are needed. FX deals can be setup to straight through processed (STP) while blockchain would make it possible to improve the speed of payments or document flows globally. Everything is connected, as payments go from a process to straight through and instant it has an immedicate effect on the cash availability and forecasting. While now the bank is the place to go for bank accounts and payments this might not be the case in 10 years. The digital treasury might be able to setup his own bank in the future. By using technology.

The future

The treasurer makes sure that he is on the steering wheel while technology makes it possible for him/her to check his surroundings so he does not crash. A bigger front window makes for a better view forward (forecasting), a higher max speed makes for quicker travel (updating changes in forecasting), adaptive cruise control saves effort on speeds control (automatic updating and AI, STP). The treasurer knows he needs to keep the engine running to keep moving. He also realises that he does not need to be a mechanic to do this; however he needs to be able to tell the mechanics quickly why the car is not moving as the treasurer wants it to be so the mechanic can fix this. Or maybe the digital treasurer might change the car for a plane in the future, or even a rocket?

It is clear that technology and treasury are interconnected. Already now and even more in the future. A treasurer therefore needs a digital mindset to survive and keep up with the information needs of his department and the company as a whole. And it’s not rocket science (yet).

Patrick Kunz 

Treasury, Finance & Risk Consultant/ Owner Pecunia Treasury & Finance BV

 





 

The IT savvy treasurer

Saving on FX deals? Often neglected but potentially a “pot of gold”

How much are you paying your bank?

 

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 to improve your working capital with Trade Finance instruments

| 22-5-2017 | Olivier Werlingshoff |

Trade finance instruments are developed especially for companies that deal with  export and/or import of goods to reduce risk but also to improve the working capital. Before going into the working capital part first let us refresh the theory.

If you are an importer of goods you would like to be sure the goods you will receive are the same as the goods you ordered. How can you be sure that the exporter sent you the right quality of goods and the right quantity, or that he sent them at all? One of the possibilities you have to reduce that risk is to pay after receiving the goods. If the quality and the quantity do not match with what you ordered, you simply do not accept the goods and do not pay the invoice.

At the same time the exporter of goods is worried that after sending you the goods, the invoice will remain  unpaid after the agreed payment period. What if the client does not accept the goods in the harbor? He would then have to arrange for new transport to return the goods or try to find new clients in a short period of time.

There is a lot of risk for both parties especially when they do not know each other very well or if they are located on different continents.

Letter of Credit

In this case a Letter of Credit could be a solution. With a Letter of Credit you make agreements with the exporter about the quality and the quantity of the goods that you buy, and how, when and where the goods will be shipped to.  Only if all terms and conditions of the Letter of Credit have been met the bank will pay the invoice. A lot of paper work will be part of the agreement for instance a Bills of Lading, a commercial invoice, a certificate of origin and an inspection certificate. As an additional security, the exporter can have the Letter of Credit confirmed by his bank.
In a nutshell this is the basic of how Letters of Credit (L/C) works.

Working Capital

Now you can ask the question how could this improve your working capital?

Firstly you will have more security that the payment will be made, therefore the risk of nonpayment will be reduced.

With trade finance you could also set up a line of credit based on your security and overall financial situation.

For the importer, he can finance the gap between paying the exporter and selling the goods to a buyer or use it for manufacturing purposes.

For the exporter, he can fund the gap between selling the goods and receiving payments from the buyer.

If there is not enough equity or there are no sufficient credit lines available, there is another option. Transaction Finance, hence the goods you will sell. [Export L/C] are used to fund [collateral] the buying of these same goods [Import L/C] This is called a Back to back L/C.

There could be a fly in the ointment, however! What happens when there is a mistake made in the paperwork? If this is a small mistake both parties would agree the transaction will go forward. But if during shipment the prices of the goods drop the importer will maybe not be very collaborative and will grab this opportunity to refuse the goods and not to pay the invoice!

Since the credit crisis the use of L/C’s went through the roof. If you need consultancy advise on this topic, drop us a line!

Olivier Werlingshoff - editor treasuryXL

 

Olivier Werlingshoff 

Group Treasury Director

 

 

 

More articles from this author:

How can payments improve your working capital?

Managing cash across borders

How to improve cash awareness without targets

Autorisaties en bevoegdheden vastleggen – ook noodzakelijk voor het MKB

| 5-5-2017| Jan Doosje |

 

Helmi van Bergen van Juridiqua heeft onlangs een interessant artikel gepubliceerd over autorisaties en procedures rondom autorisaties. Vorig jaar heb ik een artikel voor TreasuryXL geschreven betreffende autorisaties en procedures met betrekking tot cash en treasury management. Ik zie het artikel van Helmi van Bergen in het verlengde hiervan.

“Bureaucratische” regels

Het is mij bekend dat veel bedrijven in het MKB wars zijn van al teveel bureaucratische regels. Echter, als deze “bureaucratische” regels (lees: autorisaties) helder en kernachtig zijn geformuleerd, geformaliseerd en ook gecommuniceerd zijn levert dit ook (of wellicht vooral ook) in het MKB veel rust in de bedrijfsvoering op.

Door een goede implementatie in de (financiële en logistieke) systemen hoeft het werken met autorisaties overigens ook niet te leiden tot een uitbreiding van indirecte kosten het is eerder te verwachten dat er efficiënter gewerkt kan worden (minder discussies en minder onduidelijkheden). Het argument van hogere kosten kan m.i. gemakkelijk weerlegd worden en is dus geen excuus om procedures en autorisaties niet vast te leggen.

Autorisaties

Zowel eigenaren/directie als de medewerkers kunnen veel winnen bij het invoeren van autorisaties en een autorisatietabel. Geen discussies of onzekerheden bij de medewerkers of iets al dan niet mag of voor welk bedrag er (bijvoorbeeld ) een verplichting aangegaan mag worden. Het is uiteraard aan de ondernemer zelf om te bepalen in hoeverre hij zijn staf- of lijnorganisatie het vertrouwen wil geven om zaken zelfstandig op te pakken, uiteraard ook afgezet tegen zijn ‘risk appetite’ en financiële draagkracht.  Voor veel werknemers zal het een verrijking van hun werkzaamheden betekenen, de organisatie spreekt (impliciet) vertrouwen uit en dat werkt veelal enorm motiverend.
Voorwaarde is wel dat er voldoende waarborgen in de procedure zijn opgenomen waaruit blijk dat functionarissen hun bevoegdheden niet te buiten zijn gegaan en dat er, naast beloning, ook “straf” gegeven kan worden als bevoegdheden worden overschreden.

Vanuit oogpunt van certificering helpt het ook als procedures formeel worden vastgelegd en ook blijkt dat er navolging aan wordt gegeven alsmede controle op bestaat. De organisatie heeft meer grip op het proces en heeft meer zekerheid dat doelstellingen op de juiste manier worden behaald.

Ook de accountant zal over het algemeen blij worden van een juist ingevoerde procedure en autorisatietabel. Dit geeft een goed beeld over de mate van professionaliteit van de organisatie.

Conclusie

In aanvulling op het artikel van Helmi van Bergen concludeer ik het volgende:

Het vaststellen van procedures en vastleggen van autorisaties is ook voor het MKB erg belangrijk vanwege de volgende redenen :

  • Het schept helderheid in de organisatie over de taken, verantwoordelijkheden en bevoegdheden.
  • Daar deze helderheid ontstaat er meer grip op de organisatie, de controle neem toe.
  • Implementatie gaat niet gepaard met hogere kosten, het is eerder de verwachting dat er efficiënter gewerkt kan worden
  • De ondernemer dient zelf te bepalen in welke mate hij het vertrouwen aan de medewerkers wil geven, mede ingegeven door zijn eigen ‘risk appetite’ en financiële draagkracht
  • Implementatie ondersteunt het MKB bij het verkrijgen of behouden van (bijv.) ISO-certificaties
  • Een accountant zal positief oordelen bij het inzien van een op juiste wijze geïmplementeerd en nageleefd systeem van procedures en autorisaties
  • Implementatie kan een enorme boost geven aan de motivatie van medewerkers vanwege het (impliciet) gestelde vertrouwen
  • Naast implementatie dient er periodiek gecontroleerd te worden of op een juiste wijze gewerkt wordt
  • Bij overtreding van autorisaties of afwijking van procedures dient duidelijk te zijn welke sancties hier vanuit de organisatie aan gesteld worden.

Vraag die nog beantwoord dient te worden in welke mate de vastgestelde autorisaties ook in het Handelsregister vastgelegd dienen te worden.

Ik hoop middels deze blog extra input gegeven te hebben aan het artikel van Helmi van Bergen.

Jan Doosje

Jan Doosje

Owner of Fimterim Advies & Consultancy

 

 

 

 

Meer artikelen van deze auteur:

Basisprincipes van interne beheersing op het gebied van treasury – Deel I

Basisprincipes van interne beheersing op het gebied van treasury – Deel II

 

Regulatory demands: compliance required!

| 20-4-2017 | Olivier Werlingshoff | Sponsored content |

 

Complying with regulatory demands is a must, and banks know it. In practice, however, the majority still can’t manage to meet all requirements. Manual solutions prove to be insufficient and important rules are often overlooked. But how does one ensure that all regulatory demands are complied with?

Facilitating screening

Today, most banks offer apps that customers can use for online banking purposes, such as opening an account. However, there are two important aspects when onboarding a customer. First, you need to have adequate controls and procedures in place to know the customer with whom you are dealing. Adequate due diligence on new and existing customers is a key part of these controls – which can be done using advanced software that is linked to different sanction lists. Second, all customer transactions should be monitored for AML – which is done after the settlement of a transaction and live transaction screening, which happens in real time. The moment a payment is made and a beneficiary bank receives it, sanction lists are instantly scanned to check if there is a hit or not. This is done for every transaction, ensuring that regulatory demands are met.

Compliance: points of attention

Some banks still don’t comply with regulatory demands. They merely check sanction lists for the customer’s name – often manually –, which is by no means sufficient! For example, one should also verify whether the customer’s name appears in any media or lawsuits, and a customer’s partner needs to be checked as well. So what you need is a comprehensive solution that takes all these different aspects into account.

Implementing a solution

Proferus helps banks and corporates opt for a proper automated solution based on the demands involved. We assist in choosing the right software and support teams that have to learn to work with it. Basically, we help them in two respects: we provide consultancy – by conducting business analyses – and we implement the technical solution!

Olivier Werlingshoff - editor treasuryXL

 

Olivier Werlingshoff

Managing Consultant at Proferus

Managing treasury risk: Operational Risk (Part VII)

| 21-3-2017 | Lionel Pavey |

 

There are lots of discussions concerning risk, but let us start by trying to define what we mean by risk. In my last article on how to manage treasury risk I will write something about operational risk. The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) defines this as “the risk of loss resulting from inadequate or failed internal processes, people and systems or from external events.  If you want to read my earlier articles on managing the different treasury risks please refer to the complete list at the end of today’s article.

 

Whilst this is the last article in this series, it is actually – potentially – the most significant risk that a company can face, as there are many different ways that a loss could occur, together with the fact that when it happens the amount lost can be very large. Even if the size of the loss could be considered small, there is always the threat of reputation risk which, once identified, is very difficult to erase from the memory.

While it is possible to insure against rogue trading for a company (the risk present in the Treasury function can be quantified and qualified) it is very rare that damage is caused by just one individual – a financial version of the lone wolf theory. Operational risks tend to be interlinked – a fraudulent payment could be initiated by human involvement (either as fraud or human error) and facilitated by weak processes together with insecure technological systems.

There are 2 main areas of operational risk within treasury for a company

  1. Internal
  2. External

There are 3 main categories of operational risk within treasury for a company:

  1. Computer System, Information Technology
  2. Theft and Fraud
  3. Unauthorised Activity

Computer System, Information Technology

A lack of robustness and deficiencies in the technology and systems contribute to circumstances for failures, errors, data losses, corruption and fraud. Internally considerable care and attention should be given to the protocol for Static Data. This encompasses all the relevant reference data for a counterparty and should be subject to at least an input and verification procedure before entering the computer system. Changes to Static Data have to be recorded, together with the proper paper trail and authorization matrix. Externally the risks relate mainly to illegal entry (hacking), together with the complete theft of data.

Theft and Fraud

Both internally and externally main areas include:

  • Theft – both physical and electronic
  • Extortion
  • Embezzlement
  • Forgery
  • Misappropriation
  • Willful destruction
  • Bribes
  • Kickbacks
  • Insider Trading

Unauthorised Activity

From the Treasury point of view, this is an internal activity and mainly relates to 2 types of transactions – unauthorized by transaction and or type; transactions that are not captured in the system and reported. These can lead to monetary losses (though a gain is possible – at the price of an operational risk), together with loss of reputation.
The last category clearly shows where the biggest risk occurs within a company – at the human level. Generally speaking, these are caused by incompetence, lack of knowledge, misuse of power or compulsion to act caused by external factors – extortion.
It is clear therefore that whilst the electronic systems employed by a company can be a liability if not properly programmed or safeguarded, even here, most of the errors can be traced by to human intervention.

So why are the human risks so often underestimated? Naturally a company wishes to have the feeling that its staff can be trusted (within reason). After all, the company felt that the staff were the right people to employ. It is not my intention to formulate the reasoning and thinking of people who perform illegal acts. However certain areas that can be considered include how staff are treated; the demand placed on them; the rewards given; the levels of transparency and inequity within the company; a closed-off attitude (problems in one department are kept within that department and not discussed throughout the company); the role model set by owners, directors and managers; loss of personnel, reduction in morale; disinterested and unmotivated staff.

 Solutions

An effective framework of operational risk management needs to be designed and implemented within the business. This requires input and commitment from all departments within the company, meeting one agreed standard and not being shaped to every individual department’s wishes. The framework has to run and meet the requirements for all different strategies within the company.

I wish to finish with 2 examples of operational risk to illustrate how large they can be.

In 1995 the world’s second oldest merchant bank (Barings Bank) collapsed due to the actions of a rogue trader. Corruption and a lack of internal control led to a loss of GBP 827 million.

Around the same time I was employed as an international money broker working in the interbank market and travelled every day from The Hague to Amsterdam via train. As I knew the route off by heart, I read all the time – magazines, papers, books – anything. I purchased a book called “The Cuckoo’s Egg” as it seemed interesting and would pass the time away sitting on the train.
The synopsis told me that an unreconciled accounting discrepancy of just 75 cents would lead to a world of computer espionage and spies. I highly recommend reading the book to understand how a simple error can grow to show the dangers of ignoring operational risks. If you like acronyms then you will enjoy reading about the FBI, CIA, NSA and KGB – all hacked via a UNIX server at a laboratory linked to the University of California.The story is true and threatened national security.

Trust people – but do not place temptation in their way.

Lionel Pavey

 

 

Lionel Pavey

Cash Management and Treasury Specialist

 

 

How the ‘Cloud’ empowers treasurers

| 20-12-2016 | Kasja Reinders | GT News |

cloud‘The term ‘Cloud’ has become the buzzword for organisations interested in simplifying and transforming technology over the past several years. ‘The Cloud’ is used to describe a process or system of sharing technological resources to gain scale, efficiencies and reduce cost – or more simply put, using a network of computers to manage and process information, rather than a single computer or machine.’ According to GTNews in their article about how the ‘Cloud’ empowers treasurers.

Apparantly ‘Cloud’ adoption rates have been growing over the past several years in virtually every industry and in all parts of the world. How about the financial world and treasury in particular? Are treasurers reluctant to use the ‘Cloud’ or not? GT News states that ‘the endeavour of installing hardware and software is viewed by treasurers as too costly, resource-intensive and as leading to a longer overall implementation timeline. The cost effectiveness of the ‘Cloud’ is a major reason for treasurers to seek the cloud. Security is an issue of course. Treasurers are moving toward either private or public cloud deployments. ‘Some treasurers view private ‘Cloud’ environments as more secure than shared, public ‘Cloud’ environments; others are comfortable with recent developments in public ‘Cloud’ security’, according to GTnews.

 4 major reasons to use the cloud

To summarize their reasons, the 4 most important are:

  • Minimal internal treasury and IT support required for setup and maintenance.
  • The option of faster, more standardised implementations.
  • Significantly lower overall total cost of ownership.
  • Minimal upgrade effort and cost.

But how and to what extent does the ‘Cloud’ really help treasury departments to innovate and improve? GT News: ‘The ‘Cloud’ allows treasurers to move further away from operational, non-value added tasks such as those related to the maintenance of technology (implementing, upgrading, supporting), to more analytical and strategic initiatives. Frequent and seamless updates and enhancement of the technology allows treasurers to utilise the latest functionality without the need for a significant upgrade process. This is key, because it allows treasurers to consume new and innovative technologies as quickly and easily as possible.’

GT News concludes: ‘Corporate treasurers should demand that vendors in the treasury technology space stay ahead of the cloud curve, by providing the most secure, functionally powerful and innovative ‘Cloud’ solutions.’

We asked our expert, Kasja Reinders, to comment on this topic:

The ‘Cloud’….. some consider it ‘something untouchable’,  others really love it.
My opinion… for some companies the ‘Cloud’ is not really interesting because they have their own IT department with a good back up system and employees who will take care of it and know what they are doing.
If you are working in the ‘Cloud’ it is actually nothing else then putting your information on another server which is managed by a different company. That means that you are outsourcing your IT servers and you will miss the control on it.  The problem is that you aren’t sure if the company that will take care of your information is doing this in the way you want it.
But I imagine that for a lot of companies this will work well and that is why they are using the ‘Cloud’.
For treasury departments I think it won’t be usefull. Treasury managers as I are working with confidential information and therefore I would rather not work in the ‘Cloud’.
It is this feeling I have that tells me it is not save, but maybe we treasurers need to keep pace with times and start using the ‘Cloud’. The future will tell us if it is save or not.
Kasja ReindersKasja Reinders – Treasury/Cash Manager

[button url=”https://www.treasuryxl.com/community/experts/kasja-reinders/” text=”View expert profile” size=”small” type=”primary” icon=”” external=”1″]

[separator type=”” size=”” icon=””]