As treasury technology matures and companies put ever higher premiums on internal productivity and efficiency, treasury staffs are letting their vendors know what they’d like to see next.
Better visibility of collateral is on the list, reports Laurie McCulley, a managing director at Treasury Strategies. “Derivative and foreign exchange trades often involve the daily exchange of collateral,” McCulley says. “Users want to see the collateral positions tied to the transactions. They are doing it today through work-arounds, but they want more efficient, direct reporting.” How badly they want it depends on whether Dodd-Frank regulations require collateralization of corporate over-the-counter derivative trades, she adds
Stronger reporting tied to key performance indicators (KPI) is another highly desirable area. Embedding policy provisions and activity metrics in treasury systems’ reports would make it apparent if policies have been violated—or even impossible to violate those policies as a result of embedded rules on such things as investment concentrations. “They want to see exactly where their assets are invested, down to the holdings of funds they might be using,” McCulley says. “And they want to be able to define success and see at a glance how successful their performance is.” That may involve greater integration of investment portals and treasury workstations for dashboard reporting, she says.
KPI reporting is the latest bell to show up on treasury systems, agrees Steve Bullock, senior vice president and general manager for treasury software vendor IT2. And the interest in KPI is not limited to investments. “They want data, but they also want to see when tasks are completed, when there are delays or exceptions and how transactions conform with policies and affect exposures,” Bullock says.
McCulley says hedge accounting support for long-haul accounting is another functionality that’s in demand. “More and more companies are changing from short-cut to long-haul election, and they want their treasury management system to support that.”
Treasury staffs want some things standardized and others customized. Bruce Lynn, managing partner at Financial Executives Consulting Group in Darien, Conn., notes IT2 has introduced a customization feature that treasuries can use to create their own workflow diagrams, complete with icons. “Most vendors have tabs across the top or a tree along the left side in some order typically determined by the vendor,” Lynn says. “IT2 lets users set up their own navigation structure to reflect the sequence of their daily tasks.”
Finally, treasurers want data storage and retrieval services. They’re asking bankers to provide data warehouses for payment-related activity and give them online access. Data once kept for 12 to 14 months may now be retained for five to seven years or even longer—whatever the treasury decides it needs and is willing to pay for, says Cindy Murray, head of global treasury product infrastructure, platforms and ecommerce at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
For a look at treasury technologies’ increasing reliance on software as a service, see The Cloud Invasion.