But it will be online, on your mobile phone and, increasingly, in the Cloud.
Regulation, risk, a low-interest-rate environment and global economic uncertainty mean treasurers are more dependent than ever before on software systems and services to help them manage their business.
In a climate where banks are withdrawing from certain markets and lines of business, treasurers require greater visibility into their global cash and liquidity across the regions and sectors in which they operate. These insights are invaluable in terms of helping treasurers make better-informed decisions on cash, liquidity and investment management; better manage their banking relationships and build businesses that are more sustainable.
Banks are increasingly under pressure to meet heightened client expectations for real-time information regarding their payments and cash balances and to provide processing capabilities across multiple channels, including Web and mobile, as well as to maintain conventional offerings such as check processing, wholesale lockboxes, ACH and wire transfers. Winners in this year’s treasury and cash management systems and services categories, such as Canada’s D+H Financial Technologies, help banks make the world of multiple payment channels, currencies and back-office legacy systems appear seamless to the end customer.
One of the more notable trends in this year’s awards is the major advances in treasury and risk management systems, which now boast a range of functions: from analyzing and quantifying currency exposures and hedge accounting treatments to providing timely reporting on cash balances, payments, liquidity and investments.
Yet technology has not always been a treasurer’s best friend. Nor has it always delivered the strategic insights and business intelligence that is required more than ever today. In the past, implementing enterprise resource planning (ERP), accounting and treasury management systems were multiyear projects, entailing significant up-front investment and no guarantee of a reasonable return. Treasurers often failed to leverage the full functionality of these applications due to the complexities of systems integration.
But the advent of the Cloud has transformed the way treasurers consume these technologies. Companies no longer need to pay out so much up front to attain higher levels of centralization and control over their treasury operations. Kyriba was one of the early adopters of the Cloud to deliver treasury management software-as-a-service, which enabled smaller to mid-sized treasury organizations to attain higher levels of automation and visibility over their cash, without having to maintain substantial IT dpartments.
ERP providers like SAP and Oracle are using the Cloud to deliver enhanced business intelligence and faster business processes. The Cloud is now extending ERP functionality—once considered to be the preserve of large multinational corporations with complex business processes—to small and medium-size enterprises.
Some system and software providers, like FIS, are supporting the transition in corporate treasury toward real-time work flows, enriched ISO 20022 payment
messages for enhanced reconciliation, predictive analytics and “self-learning”
technologies for credit risk analysis and detecting deviations in payment behavior. Those efforts led FIS to wins for its accounts payable and accounts receivable solutions.
Treasurers are increasingly reliant on technology to help them fight cybercrime and identify fraudulent transactions, as well as potential credit and political risks in their global supply chains. This year’s winner in the corporate cards and expense management category, American Express, provides a range of different reporting tools, online systems and virtual accounts to help card-program managers more easily control spending and spot questionable transactions.
Consolidation is also an overwhelming trend in the treasury management systems and services space. Reval, which is named Best Treasury Analytics Provider, was recently acquired by venture-capital funded ION, which had already snapped up treasury management providers such as IT2, Wall Street Systems and City Financials.
Despite technology’s promise, inefficiencies still exist within treasury and cash management. For example, bank account opening and management are still largely manual processes. Neither widespread acceptance of digital signatures nor banks’ account-opening processes have evolved at the same pace as the underlying technologies that facilitate electronic bank account management, or eBAM.
Undoubtedly, the trend is toward digitization and automation; and this year’s winners in our systems and services categories are all working to help companies make the transition from largely manual, paper-based processes to a highly automated approach that eliminates inefficiencies and unnecessary costs. But given the complexity of the business processes involved, and corporate concerns about cybercrime and risk, the digital transformation of corporate treasury and cash management has not moved at the same pace as in the consumer banking space, where the advent of peer-to-peer lending and instant payments via mobile and other “smart” devices is rapidly transforming how consumers interact with financial services.
In the coming months and years, it will be interesting to see what impact third-party application providers have on systems and services in corporate treasury and cash management. Can they deliver even greater efficiency gains than those achieved by previous technology iterations, making a corporate’s back-end systems communicate more seamlessly with those of its banking providers?