Transforming European Cash Management at Estée Lauder Companies
by Bart Taeymans, Executive Director, International Treasury Centre, the Estée Lauder Companies Inc. and Hugh Davies, Director, Zanders Treasury & Finance Solutions
Estée Lauder has established a global reputation for high quality, premium beauty products, but the group’s commitment to quality and excellence applies across the full reach of its activities. Treasury is no exception. As Bart Taeymans, Executive Director of the International Treasury Centre for the Estée Lauder Companies Inc., and Hugh Davies, Director of Zanders Treasury & Finance Solutions outline in this article, a series of projects has resulted in a highly efficient cash management organisation that also forms the foundation for future innovations.
As a professional treasury department that acts as a service function to the group, our aim is to create incremental value for the company and our shareholders in whatever we do. This includes implementing efficient, best in class processes, reporting and systems, providing sophisticated analytics and insightful thought leadership, and acting as an expert business partner to the organisation. We have a centralised treasury organisation with treasury centres located in the United States and Belgium. Our corporate team in the United States is responsible for US cash management, capital markets, pensions, insurance and a range of other activities. Our international treasury centre in Belgium manages global cash (outside the US) and risk management.
Catalysts for change
Over the past few years, the company has been setting up a single instance of SAP globally which creates both cost and operational benefits across the group, including treasury. This project has been a catalyst in our treasury organisation to maximise the benefits of a single, cohesive technology environment and phase out both our non-SAP systems and non-standard processes.
We were also fortunate in that the timing of our project coincided with the mandatory migration to SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) for payments and collections. As we were therefore updating our systems, processes and formats in line with SEPA requirements, we could also take advantage of the opportunity to harmonise formats based on XML ISO 20022 and increase financial and operational efficiency.
We partnered with Zanders to develop a treasury roadmap to outline our future direction, but with a focus on what was practical and achievable. Zanders applied its seven-step approach to achieving transformation in a structured way, from analysis of current states through to identifying objectives, selection of partners and finally execution. As part of this evaluation process, we recognised that two areas in particular: systems and banking, were sub-optimal.
Looking first at our systems infrastructure, for example, we had a central treasury management system managed in the US which was accessed from both treasury centres. However, we also had a number of other systems in place that we used for daily operations. In addition, we also had a variety of disparate means with which to connect to our banks. In treasury, we used SWIFT via a service bureau, whereas our global finance teams still relied on a variety of bank portals. Related to this, our banking landscape had become fragmented, particularly in EMEA. This was due in part to the growth we have experienced as a business, with local affiliates appointing their own banking partners. This was less the case in Asia Pacific and Latin America where treasury had been more closely involved in making, or supporting the choice of banking partners. Our roadmap therefore laid out short-, medium- and long-term plans to overcome these perceived limitations.