Asian Treasurers Embrace Technology
by Kevin Grant, Hanse Orga Executive Board Member
Hanse Orga’s current experiences in the Asia-Pacific region show clearly that technology innovation is now a primary catalyst for achieving business process improvement in treasury and finance.
Traditionally, many finance operations in the region relied substantially on manual administrative processes because of the low cost base compared with Europe and North America. The sustained and powerful surge in business growth has transformed the situation radically. Asia-Pacific is a vibrant economic region, with more and more companies opening subsidiaries, and more goods being sourced there. The strength of economic activity has led to the necessary growth of supporting finance operations, such as regional treasury hubs in Hong Kong and Singapore, and shared service centres, for example in Malaysia and the Philippines. The recent vigorous growth in new technology projects that we are seeing reflects both an acknowledged need for the superior control, security and transparency of financial processes, and also their growing cost effectiveness compared with older alternatives.
Today, Asia-Pacific is a most dynamic area for the incubation and delivery of financial technology creativity and innovation. This reflects the region’s forward-thinking ethos, which is unencumbered by the baggage of the past compared with many other geographies and business cultures. The Asia-Pacific reaction to evaluating and adopting potentially valuable new ideas is ‘how can we do it?’ rather than ‘what can we do to resist it?’ Our experience is that Asia-Pacific is a superb proving ground for complex technology projects, and that ‘if you can do it in Asia, you can do it anywhere.’ The work ethic here is dynamically positive, with people being very flexible in implementing new automation concepts, and adapting to new practices so that the business benefits may be swiftly and fully achieved. We established an office in Hong Kong to provide local and regional support for existing clients, and for the many new projects that are coming on stream, both in China and other countries.
Today, Asia-Pacific is a most dynamic area for the incubation and delivery of financial technology creativity and innovation.
Some local client case stories illustrate some of the valuable business process improvements in finance and treasury that are being realised by corporations in the region through embracing contemporary technology enthusiastically.
Dialog Semiconductor resolved a complex payments management problem, working with HSBC and Hanse Orga to implement a new solution for their operations in Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore, and beyond. The problem issues included the numerous different message formats, protocols and languages in use. The original processes were inefficient, and were intensive in terms of time and cost. The new solution provides a standardised and optimised payments workflow based on XML EBICS messaging, providing central management of approvals and bank communications. It includes a secure and traceable integration with the SAP ERP, with format adjustments for local languages to make it readily usable in all locations. The solution extends to FX rates, broadening its value and reducing operational and financial risk.
Dialog’s deployment of automation has led directly to the significantly enhanced control and visibility of its cash flows.
Hanse Orga worked with the global multinational Dow Chemical to automate and accelerate bank statement processing, which was based on a manual account reconciliation workflow. The solution roll-out in Asia-Pacific is an important part of Dow’s global implementation of a Next Enterprise Architecture programme, to optimise technology value and benefits across the enterprise.
Today, Dow has achieved significant time savings in reconciliation. The organisation uses a flexible, standardised process which now produces very high levels of automated matching with peaks to 95%. All payment types are accommodated: in practice, Dow receives and makes payments using many different local methods. The key result is that Dow’s cash is now accurately and dependably located, measured and controlled, with high levels of cost and process efficiency. And professional staff have been made available for more productive cash management tasks. Dow’s operations now have a reduced need for day-to-day IT support, and the improved, automated controls have enhanced the quality of SOX compliance.
The adoption of powerful new technology exemplifies Asia-Pacific’s resilience, and its openness to proven opportunities to cope most effectively with a rapidly changing financial and general business environment. The region is benefiting from an advanced and very practical work ethic that continually seeks improvement in order to meet its competitive objectives. Current demand for value-adding new technology projects is high. This is an exciting and rewarding time to be involved.