The SWIFT Return on Investment
A SIBOS Corporate Forum Panel Discussion. Hosted by Citi.
The following is an edited transcript of a roundtable discussion held at this year’s SIBOS event hosted by Citi. We are grateful to all those on the panel for allowing us to reproduce their comments to readers of TMI.
Richard Schwartz (Chair) Director, Information Partners
Ed Barrie, Group Manager, Treasury, Microsoft Corporation
Hans Cobben, Group Vice President, Global Payments and Messaging Solutions, SunGard
Manish Jain, Global Transaction Services, Citi
Thomas Martin, Head of Operations & IT, ABB Group Treasury
Welcome to the session! Firstly, I’d like to ask each member of the panel to introduce themselves. We have a good cross-section of representatives today, including Corporates, Banks and Vendors.
I am Thomas Martin, Head of Operations at ABB. We will be going live on SWIFT in a few weeks. I’d like to talk about how our journey has evolved so far. It’s a bit early for us to see how SWIFT has made our life easier at this stage, but as a decentralised company, we want to use SWIFT to provide a gateway to our banks, initially for treasury payments.
My name is Hans Cobben and I am Group VP with SunGard Banks & Corporates. We have seen a lot of change in systems both on the banking and corporate side and have been privileged to be part of these developments. We have also had a learning curve, and I will be glad to share some ideas with you and learn more about your experiences.
From our perspective, there are two areas of return on investment from SWIFT.
I’m Ed Barrie, Group Manager for Treasury at Microsoft. I’m responsible for two principle functions: firstly, our treasury technology and delivering on our five-year roadmap; secondly, our cash operations. Our cash operations team moves funds across all of our bank accounts worldwide. As part of my role, I’ve been leading our SWIFTNet initiative for the last 3 1/2 years.
I’m Manish Jain from Global Transaction Services at Citi. I manage a product called Citi SWIFT Exchange, which is geared towards corporate needs and which we have implemented with a number of corporates. From our perspective, there are two areas of return on investment (ROI) from SWIFT. One is obviously the rationalisation of the connectivity infrastructure, moving from connecting to ten banks in ten different ways through to connecting to them all through one single channel. So on that side, the ROI is fairly obvious. But why go through that exercise?
The ultimate goal of simplifying connectivity and messaging layer in your treasury is to achieve a smooth-running, automated treasury operation with a high degree of straight-through processing, with the ultimate goal of global visibility of your cash flows, so you can manage your liquidity more effectively. This is really the ultimate value of moving towards SWIFT and standardisation rather than focusing simply on technology rationalisation. From our experience, it can take two to three years to achieve that goal. The most critical factor in success is the partner that you choose. Not all banks are SWIFT members. Not all banks offer SWIFT connectivity to corporates. So a crucial question is: does your banking partner really offer the services that you’re looking for? Do they have global reach? Are they willing to partner with you from the beginning until you have completed your journey and achieved your ROI goals?