Cash management: Time to change?
Want to sign off corporate payments from your phone while on the beach? Looking for a cheaper offering? Need a bank with a footprint in emerging markets? There are many reasons to change cash management providers, and clients need help coping with these transitions. Société Générale discusses why customers change and what it entails.
What are treasurers looking for in a cash management provider, other than cost?
Philippe Marcotte de Quivières (PMQ), Deputy Head of Payment and Cash Management: Among the most important things to clients, besides price, are automation, security and reactivity. Corporates often analyse the bank’s approach to project management and its capacity to process complex transactions.
By changing providers treasurers can access new functionalities and make their jobs easier, for example using tools to view all their treasury operations on a single screen, regardless of the currency or country they are operating in. Having dedicated intermediaries in the bank, such as a project implementation team, will also influence their decision.
Société Générale combines the benefits of a global bank, with considerable expertise in complex, international transactions, with a deep knowledge of the local markets. This allows us, for example, to offer our clients a wide range of solutions that fit emerging markets. This has been a big selling point for our clients.
What challenges are involved when changing provider?
PMQ: While a client is being migrated to a new provider there can be no disruption to processing flows. The offering must be fully operational on day one; payments cannot be interrupted, even temporarily.
Alexy Thomas (AT), Head of Project Implementation for Customers: To ensure every implemented solution works from day one, all technical processes must be thoroughly tested in advance. Possible adjustments must be identified and resolved before the set-up goes live.
How long is the process likely to take? How much disruption is involved?
PMQ: The implementation process may take time, sometimes up to several months, depending on the complexity of the project. This period is very important as it allows the client and the bank’s implementation team to work together to adapt each aspect of the project to the particular needs of the corporation.
Corporate treasury teams are getting smaller, so they need more help with implementing change. Having a single point of contact in the bank, rather than liaising with different departments, simplifies the client’s job. Société Générale therefore provides a project manager to act as the main contact. Our vast experience helps our clients, as we are able to react quickly to any situation.
AT: Cash management is very IT intensive. Being in direct contact with the client’s IT teams is a good way to minimise disruption, while giving our implementation project managers a better understanding of the customer’s system. This helps us tailor the solution according to their needs.
What factors determine the different approaches that might be taken in implementing projects?
AT: Clients’ preferences differ according to their needs and the scale of the project. Our teams adapt their approach depending on what the customer wants.
The Société Générale project manager, alongside the client, analyses the existing organisation and then develops a plan to structure the project streams, team, tasks, milestones, planning and governance. Treasurers’ initial vision of the project may evolve in response to the advice and expertise offered by our teams.
One corporate client we worked with wanted to view their accounts across five currencies but was worried about multiplying FX transactions, as their payments were mainly in one major currency. After discussing with our Cash Management specialists, the client decided to opt for a notional cash-pooling approach, as this solution perfectly matched their needs.
In the end our job is to pass on our experience and knowledge for the benefit of our clients.
How are banks changing in response to evolving client needs?
PMQ: With flows continually growing and many clients regularly processing millions of transactions per day, banks have to rely on an industrial approach to doing business. They must invest in new technology to better accommodate the evolving needs of their clients. At Société Générale we continually develop our payment platform to ensure we can process increasingly numerous and complex transactions.
On the other hand, clients require tailor-made solutions, which is a different kind of challenge. This is why we provide our clients with the combined support of our implementation teams, IT engineers and Cash Management specialists. Working together, the bank’s experts can customise the solution to suit the client's specific needs.
We chose Societe Generale as our cash management bank for the EUR business in May 2015. The implementation work was completed really fast within 6 months. The key for this success was a good co-operation between Borealis and Societe Generale’s cash management and project implementation teams. They understood our needs and showed strong commitment to reaching the milestones on time and to providing us with the right services and support. The team was experienced and willing to find solutions to offer us the best cash management platform for our future transactions. Eddy Jacqmotte - Cash & Bank Manager, Head of Back Office, Borealis Group