Meeting the New Demands of Chinese Corporates
During the course of 2008 and 2009, how did the financial crisis affect your clients’ business, both domestic and international?
The global financial crisis has had adverse effects on many aspects of business operations, in both internal and external business environments. On one hand, market demands have shrunk to some extent, which led to a substantial decline in sales, increases in companies’ inventory levels, and more operational challenges. On the other hand, the liquidity shortage is very severe, and the absence of effective capital operation may well give rise to problems with the ‘capital chain’. Changes in the external environment have made it more difficult for companies to sustain healthy operations for some time, and if a business fails to take effective measures accordingly to meet the challenge, it is highly probable that these operational difficulties could threaten its very viability.
What is the impact today?
For businesses, the toughest period of the financial crisis has passed, and the issue facing each company is how to recover from this crisis quickly. With the introduction of an economic stimulus package from the central government, the demand in some market segments is on its way to recovery. How to capitalise on the opportunities the recovering economy has to offer is a major concern in current business operations. From another perspective, in the aftermath of the financial crisis, the damaged financial capability is unlikely to be able to meet the needs of company development. As a result, how to restore healthy operations, especially capital operations, and improve operational efficiency, are among the most urgent issues that a company has to address.
How have your clients’ cash management needs changed, both during the worst of the crisis and today?
At present, more and more companies agree with the concept that ‘business management should focus on financial management, while financial management should have treasury management as its core’. As the business environment improves, an increasing number of Chinese corporations are beginning to attach more importance to enhancing treasury management. China’s cash management market is developing rapidly. On one hand, large corporations are speeding up the upgrading of their own treasury management system, and strengthening their co-operation with large commercial banks in the area of cash management; on the other hand, a large number of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are also beginning to leverage the cash management products provided by banks to improve their capital management and capital utilisation efficiency, in order to guard against external environment risks more effectively. Therefore, payment and collection management, and liquidity management will become the priority tasks in corporate treasury management.
How have you responded to these changing demands?
Ever since our cash management service was launched, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) has been consistently taking a customer-focused approach and aiming to meet customers’ needs. We endeavour to meet individual clients’ specific requirements for cash management by familiarising ourselves with the characteristics of their business processes, management patterns and capital movements, incorporating their internal management systems, and providing them with tailor-made integrated cash management solutions, backed up with advanced technology platforms and a wide variety of cash management products.
Meanwhile, we do our utmost to ensure the effects and efficiency of cash management project performance through globally uniform, standardised service and efficiency in organising and executing business operations. Based on our many years of experience, we continuously improve our cash management services to meet our clients’ requirements for liquidity, security and profitability. Supported by a robust global technical system, ICBC provides clients with full-featured, flexibly-arranged cash management services, including account management, collection, payment and liquidity management, short-term investment and finance, and risk management products, etc. We have also developed ‘10 Cash Management Solutions’ to meet clients’ different requirements. In addition, we have derived ‘11 trade Cash Management Solutions’ for different industries. Meanwhile, we may also tailor our products and services to clients’ needs, and expand our service range to include global cash management service, financial outsourcing service, and supply-chain finance service etc, so as to provide a better and more comprehensive service to our high-end clients.