From the December/January 2012 issue of Treasury & Risk magazine

Analytical Makeovers

Amway and Omnicom use Web-based technology and SWIFT to gain real-time visibility into their many bank accounts.

In quiet ways, treasuries are using technology to transform operations. Craig Jeffery, managing partner at consultancy Strategic Treasurer in Atlanta, reports that leading companies are deploying flexible treasury technology architecture that allows them to react rapidly to the unexpected threats that seem to emerge every month. “This analytic-oriented architecture represents the most dramatic response from treasury that has occurred in modern time,” he says.

Amway, for one, is taking a big step in this direction. With more than $9 billion in annual revenue, the direct seller of consumer products has a large footprint that includes 50 affiliates across the globe. Managing cash flow takes approximately 1,300 accounts at 200 banks, so visibility is a challenge. Until last year, in North America that visibility came from a server-based installation of Treasury Manager, but by 2010, the software, developed by Selkirk, was a product with a long past and a dubious future. Outside of North America, affiliates reported cash positions on spreadsheets, explains Amanda B. Pilipovic, Amway’s manager of global treasury.

With such a far-flung banking network, SWIFT is a critical part of attaining global visibility, Pilipovic notes. “We use host-to-host communication with a few larger banks, but most of the data comes through SWIFT,” she explains. “We have our own SWIFT address that we use as our preferred way to receive the daily bank statements, but for banks that can’t report directly, we use a service bureau through our partnership with Kyriba.” She estimates that 70% of Amway’s 200 banks, which account for 60% of its overnight cash, now report into Kyriba.

With Kyriba users at all 50 affiliates, training was an important part of the project. “We had to travel around the world and train users in every country where we have a presence,” Pilipovic reports.

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