Treasurers took the lead in asserting how banks can better meet corporations' needs, while banks signaled their willingness to work to improve the relationships in several sessions at last week's International Cash and Treasury Management conference held by EuroFinance in Rome.

During a panel discussion focusing on the relationship between banks and corporates, treasurers expressed their frustrations with perceived gaps in communication, with Mark Kirkland, vice president of treasury at Bombardier Transportation in Switzerland, observing that banks don't always fully understand their corporate clients' business. A poll of the audience suggested that 55% of delegates thought corporates could best improve the relationship with their banks by providing greater openness and transparency. But what is it that banks need to understand better? And what can treasurers do to facilitate this?

Some specific obstacles in the bank-corporate relationship were identified during the debate. Kirkland highlighted the importance of gaining a better understanding of bank charges, saying that transparency is an improvement point. Another poll revealed that the audience regarded the biggest shortcoming of the banks to be documentation—a topic that Daniel Schmand, managing director and head of trade finance and cash management for corporates EMEA, at Deutsche Bank, described as the "elephant in the room." Schmand suggested that the industry needs to take a broader approach to simplify processes—and that banks should try to view these issues from the perspective of their clients.

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