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Promoting Innovation in Operating Efficiency – Talking with Treasurers In March 2010, SEB hosted a Financial Summit attended by 50 CFOs and Group Treasurers from top Nordic corporations. As part of its commitment to continuing and deepening the dialogue with corporate treasurers, SEB recently organised a roundtable discussion on the topic of operational efficiency, attended by treasurers from Ericsson, Holmen, Niscayah and ASSA ABLOY. This discussion is documented in this article.

Promoting Innovation in Operating Efficiency

Talking with Treasurers

In March 2010, SEB hosted a Financial Summit attended by 50 CFOs and Group Treasurers from top Nordic corporations. As part of its commitment to continuing and deepening the dialogue with corporate treasurers, SEB recently organised a roundtable discussion on the topic of operational efficiency, attended by treasurers from Ericsson, Holmen, Niscayah and ASSA ABLOY.

Bo Magnusson, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Head of Group Staff and Business Support at SEB, opened the discussions with an overview of what SEB has accomplished in the area over the past four years and how these developments are directly benefiting its corporate clients. Amongst other things, Magnusson talked about the creation of centralised group functions for operations, IT and other staff functions, which have resulted in savings of SEK 1.5bn. He also explained how SEB has outsourced parts of its operations and off-shore key back-office processes to centralised units in Latvia and Lithuania and the benefits that have ensued,

“Looking back at the journey we started four years ago, we have accomplished a lot, even if much still remains to be done. In addition, we will continually strive to be more customer-focused and think ‘outside-in’ in developing our strategy and devising customer solutions.”

The creation of centralised group functions for operations, IT and other staff functions has resulted in savings of SEK 1.5bn

With SEB’s own journey towards greater operational efficiency as a starting point, a discussion followed about how Ericsson, Holmen, Niscayah and ASSA ABLOY are also working to make business processes and internal communications more efficient. Kersti Lord, Head of Group Treasury at security company Niscayah, explained how her company strives to achieve co-ordination of processes where possible,

“The idea is to introduce process-led thinking whenever possible. We currently have somewhat disparate operating models across our divisions, so I believe it is important to focus on one process at a time and see how it can be enhanced, rather than tackling too many issues at once.”

She continues,

“The introduction of the euro made it simpler to streamline some processes since we no longer need to consider a new currency simply to cross a national border.”

Jonas Gårdmark, treasurer at door-opening solutions provider ASSA ABLOY, described how as a largely decentralised organisation, much of the work to enhance operational efficiency is initiated at business unit level,

“We have made the decision not to adopt a centralised model for the company. Instead, each division drives initiatives to improve operational efficiency. This is an integral part of our corporate philosophy, which is our belief that profitability is driven at a local business level. The exception is Corporate Treasury, where routines, policies and procedures are harmonised company-wide.”

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