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Beyond Treasury: A Service Provider to the Business

by Martin Schlageter, Head of Treasury Operations, and Alexandra Greiner, Head of Treasury Systems, F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd

In July 2007 (issue 158) Martin Schlageter and Alexandra Greiner wrote an article in TMI describing Roche’s approach to developing a global treasury organisation, with close collaboration between treasury and IT. Since then, Roche has successfully optimised many of its treasury processes and developed its in-house bank into a payment factory, which is now in the final stages of rollout. In this article, having achieved a world-class treasury operation, Martin and Alexandra discuss how they have now extended treasury’s activities further across the business, beyond treasury.

Roche’s corporate treasury organisation comprises bank relationship management, financing, cash, interest rate and FX management. In addition, Treasury also provides in-house banking and bank communication services to its subsidiaries. Our treasury mission at Roche is that treasury should be a service provider to the business, effectively providing all the services that an external bank could offer, but by leveraging a single SAP platform, and therefore being able to achieve a high degree of integration, it is our aim to be the preferred partner for our subsidiaries. To achieve this objective, we have a highly centralised treasury organisation, based in Basel.

In 2004, we first started to realise our objective to offer a wider range of banking services to our subsidiaries with the rollout of an in-house bank and optimised treasury processes. Since then, we have rationalised our bank relationships and reduced the total number of bank accounts, implemented cash pooling and in-house banking for intercompany FX-hedging and payments and established a central, global bank communication platform based on SWIFTNet. Standardisation is a key objective for Roche, so we were an early adopter of SEPA payment instruments, and we work with our banks to achieve a similar degree of standardisation not only regionally but on a global basis. This has enabled us to build a payment factory with global reach, and we are now in the final stages of implementation.

Enablers of success

There have been a few key enablers for the success of this treasury optimisation initiative: