From the May 2009 issue of Treasury & Risk magazine

A Better View of Banks

Maintaining liquidity is a challenge for many companies amid the deepening economic slump, and even if a company has cash on hand, just keeping tabs on liquid assets can be challenging. This is particularly true as finance executives, hit with pullbacks or even cancellation of credit lines by troubled banks, move to develop relationships with a wider array of smaller, financially sound banks eager to extend credit. Now Fundtech, a global provider of banking software, has announced a new tool, CASHplus, that it says will allow treasurers to see all their accounts and credit lines on a current basis.

"As companies try to develop more diverse banking relationships with smaller banks, just keeping tabs on all those accounts can be a challenge," explains Al Griffin, vice president for product management at New Jersey-based Fundtech. "In fact, many treasurers are still doing it by hand, which is very time-consuming."

Griffin says CASHplus, currently being beta tested by Fundtech's first customer for the product, M&T Bank, will allow treasurers to automate the process. The product, which will be sold to banks, will allow their corporate customers to see all their accounts--not just at the bank that owns the tool, but at all their banks in the U.S. and Canada.

M&T, a regional bank based in Buffalo, N.Y., is aiming for a June launch of the product, according to Fundtech. (M&T declined to comment on this story, but confirmed that it is beta testing the product.)

Later in the summer, Fundtech plans to offer CASHplus more broadly to other financial institutions.

"With CASHplus' online worksheets, a corporate treasurer will be able to see every account, online, at every bank, aggregated for each type of account--like wire accounts, ACH accounts, lockbox accounts, etc.--and also will be able to drill down into each account within a category, right down to the level of each debit and credit," says Griffin. "It's like having a banking dashboard." Banks, he says, would likely charge fees for the use of such capabilities. At the same time, accessing such services through a bank could save smaller treasuries from having to buy and run their own software.

Craig Jeffery, managing director at Strategic Treasurer, an Atlanta-based consultancy, says that as companies work to diversify their banking relationships, "there is a critical need for services that provide treasurers with visibility across all those banks, and the ability to know what their liquidity situation is." While calling CASHplus "a step in the right direction," Jeffery says such services can't stop with North America. "They need to be global," he says.

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