Listening to Corporate Treasurers
by Marilyn Spearing, Head of Trade Finance and Cash Management Corporates, Global Transaction Banking, Deutsche Bank and SWIFT Board Director and Chair of Corporate Access Group
What are the major themes that are of importance to today’s corporate treasurers? Now that we have concluded the main 2007 corporate treasury conferences in Europe and the US, we can identify which topics are currently of greatest interest to corporate treasurers.
Starting with the EuroFinance conference in mid-September, it was clear that corporate treasurers are viewing the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) as a strategic opportunity. In Vienna, I presented a SEPA solution along with Andreas Drabert of European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company and the audience response system recorded a clear vote for SEPA as a strategic, not tactical, issue for them.
Deutsche Bank announced its four-pronged approach to deliver its clients instant financial and business benefits following the January 2008 launch of SEPA:
1) Deutsche Bank’s corporate clients can reap the financial benefits of SEPA beginning Day 1 as a result of the bank’s decision to handle all payments with SEPA criteria in the same way as legacy domestic mass payments, irrespective of format and access channel.
2) The bank will make client migration to SEPA easier through the enhancement of internationally popular payment formats such as IDOC, CSV and EDIFACT to alleviate the need for clients to immediately change their payment processes and infrastructure to provide and deliver XML - the official SEPA format.
3) The bank will provide a flexible account model, under which existing client accounts in all Deutsche Bank branches within the Eurozone and UK can be used to process all transactions, including SEPA compliant transfers. There will be no compulsion for clients to open new accounts in a central location to be able to access and benefit from SEPA processing. Deutsche Bank is the first global transaction bank to announce such a service.
4) Lastly, Deutsche Bank has developed a number of new product features aimed at helping clients with their transaction initiation and reconciliation processes. These will take into consideration not only our clients’ migration challenges and timelines, but also the pace of changes within the markets.
This year’s SWIFT-sponsored Sibos conference in early October marked the introduction of the first Sibos Forum for Corporates. It was launched with a discussion on corporate access. A significant number of mid-cap companies expressed their interest and a strong desire for SWIFT and their banks to make client on-boarding easier. Aided by corporate access to SWIFT, SEPA is a strategic opportunity that allows corporations to restructure their treasury to leverage the benefits of SEPA while rationalizing their linkages into a SWIFT open world.
These linkages led us to a noteworthy subject matter at Sibos - financial supply chain management. Benefits have emerged from supplier finance initiatives across the market and they have surpassed initial expectations. The advantages have been widespread: balance sheet optimization, cost reduction, improved risk management as well as qualitative benefits such as the greater visibility of funds and transparency in the trading process.
SEPA and financial supply chain management remained consistent themes at the Association for Financial Professionals (AFP) conference in late October. Deutsche Bank once more spoke on SEPA but this time to a US audience along with Andreas Unterste of Dow Chemical and again it was made clear that SEPA is viewed as a strategic matter. Additionally, there was conversation about how to improve treasury benchmarking. However, one subject matter that stood out was investment in emerging markets - BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries. China was the focus of many client discussions and substantial conference time was dedicated to exploring this theme.
At these three key financial conferences, we pinpointed a trio of key areas that are important to corporate treasurers worldwide: SEPA, financial supply chain management and investment in emerging markets such as China. Corporations are asking their financial service providers to offer innovative solutions that leverage these important growth opportunities, and Deutsche Bank is answering that call.