Adding Value Up in the Cloud
by Eveline Stam, Head of Treasury, BearingPoint
Our treasury function comprises a team of three based in Amsterdam, who support the business across 20 countries, working closely with financial controllers in each location and the group CFO in Frankfurt. We are responsible for market risk, counterparty risk, cash management and liquidity, but we also manage BearingPoint’s payment infrastructure. In the past, we were responsible for payments processing, but with a small, specialist team, we recognised that we would make better use of our resources by taking more of an oversight role. In our business, with a primarily European footprint, treasury is taking a greater role in issues such as intercompany loan management, as well as its regular activities.
In order to migrate from an operational to a strategic treasury role, we needed to streamline, simplify and automate our payments infrastructure as far as possible. We had more than ten different banking systems in place, many of which were obsolete. Connecting with multiple systems meant that we had to manage separate interfaces, formats, security protocols and business processes, which added complexity and risk to our payment processes. Furthermore, it was difficult to monitor cash flow on a consistent basis given that data was presented in various systems and formats.
Addressing the challenges
We therefore made the decision for two main firm-wide banks, combined with one local bank in each country (which could be the same bank for multiple countries). This strategy offered a variety of benefits for treasury in that we could rationalise our banking relationships and systems, and achieve greater consistency, control and automation in both payment transmission and retrieval of balance and transaction reporting. Our business units also welcomed this decision, many of which were managing multiple banking relationships at a local level.
The next step was to rationalise our bank connectivity and establish a single channel through which we could communicate with each of our partner banks. We considered implementing SWIFT alongside a payments and liquidity system, but we did not want to maintain skills and resources internally to manage our payments and bank connectivity infrastructure. Instead, we were looking to outsource bank communications and infrastructure management entirely to an expert partner. We therefore made the decision to implement TIS Cloud Platform, the cloud-based payments, liquidity and bank connectivity tool provided by TIS (Treasury Intelligence Solutions GmbH).
There were a variety of reasons for this decision. As a cloud-based solution, with integrated bank communication services, we had one single business partner who was responsible for all aspects of our payments processing, liquidity and bank communication, without the need to install hardware or software in-house. We had confidence in the individuals we met from the company, and given the scale of our business in Germany, it was reassuring to work with a German partner. TIS had proven capability in integrating with SAP, and offered a range of functionality, such as eBAM (electronic bank account management) from which we could benefit in the future.