Innovation that supports treasurers
In the first of a series of articles on innovation in cash management, Philippe Marcotte de Quivières, deputy head of payments and cash management division, and Emmanuelle Fischer, head of marketing and products cash management at Société Générale outline some of the initiatives the bank has introduced to support treasury clients.
As the treasurer’s role has become wider and more strategic, we have launched sophisticated cash management tools in Société Générale that enable clients to have a clear vision of – and control over – their whole treasury function.
“We see our role as being an adviser to our customers and supporting their activities,” underlines Philippe Marcotte de Quivières. In that context, our objective at Société Générale is to provide treasurers with a variety of cash and liquidity management solutions based on their individual needs and preferences that can be accessed securely from anywhere in the world.
A global vision
“The first way we do this is by providing a comprehensive view of the customer’s accounts in real time through our international e-banking portal Sogecash Web,” Marcotte de Quivières adds.
“This enables the treasurer to monitor orders sent by all subsidiaries worldwide whatever the channel used – host to host, paper, web banking – on a dedicated screen and follow these orders from the point at which the bank receives them until they have been executed.”
This approach means that flows can be managed proactively: if there is a rejection or an order that needs signing, the treasurer can react rapidly. Having instant access to their accounts also means the treasurer can detect any suspicious activity, which is an important consideration in the prevention of fraud.
This service is already available to European customers and is being rolled out to Asia.
More efficiency within mobility
As exchanges are increasingly digitized, we are enabling customers to conduct more transactions digitally by offering alternatives to fax messaging for order confirmation. We have launched a solution that allows treasurers to digitally sign orders on our web portal and on mobile.
Last year at Société Générale, we introduced a mobile application, initially for reporting, which has since been extended to support order validation and to generate alerts where, for example, there is a rejection or the position of the account is above or below a specified limit. Before the end of this year, we will propose to our corporate clients to manage all their mandates through EBAM (Electronic Bank Account Management).
We are also one of the banks behind the SEPAmail project, designed to facilitate electronic exchanges between economic institutions of non-accounting documents for payments such as invoices, mandates and advices.
By having instant access to all relevant information on their accounts and being able to sign orders at any moment, anywhere, treasurers can also reduce the extent to which they have to delegate their signature, further reducing the scope for fraud.
Account security is obviously a vital consideration – treasurers need to be confident that mobile applications carry the same level of security as a desktop application.
We have taken this on board by developing a new solution for the client to authenticate their identity via their mobile device.
“We have introduced these innovations across our extensive global network, but we are especially excited about the potential for emerging markets,” Emmanuelle Fischer declares.
Explore new geographies
In countries where faxes are still widely used for transmitting orders to banks – as is the case in many parts of Africa, for instance – we have deployed electronic solutions that support digital transactions, for example an e-banking host-to-host solution using the Electronic Banking Internet Communication Standard (EBICS) protocol.
“As the geographic scope of the treasurer widens, our solutions must be available in any part of the world,” Fischer explains. “Treasurers are managing a wider range of currencies, which increases the importance of liquidity management, so we also offer notional cash-pooling services.”
Since the start of 2015, we have been offering zero-balance accounts cash pooling in countries such as Cameroon. We are one of the first banks to offer sophisticated cash pooling in Africa and we are now extending this offer to other African countries.
Our strong presence in Asia means we are able to use the new free trade zone in Shanghai, where our customers can interface their Chinese accounts with global international cash pooling in Hong Kong, Singapore or even Paris. Société Générale is one of very few leading banks able to provide such a service.
Also, in order to better support our Chinese customers, we have translated our international transactions portal Sogecash Web into Mandarin. This will support our clients’ business in China as well as in Africa, via the China-Africa trade corridor.
Wherever they go, Société Générale’s treasury clients can check their accounts, sign orders securely and take decisions in real time. This level of service is part of the process of positioning Société Générale as a cash management adviser for treasurers.