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The key to smarter, more decisive treasury management may lie in getting not just reports that supply data, but intelligent reports in which data have been aggregated, sorted and analyzed, reports that may even point out the best steps to take to control risk, optimize returns or improve efficiency. While there’s still a gap between the potential and the reality of such reporting, the gap is closing.

For example, if street protests erupted in a foreign capital, threatening the stability of the government, a corporate treasurer with some of today’s best analytical reports could easily determine the company’s investment exposure to that country’s debt, including holdings in money market funds. This represents significant progress from 2008, when treasury investors worried about how much Lehman Brothers paper they were holding indirectly, through money funds. “It was virtually impossible to find out,” recalls consultant Mike Gallanis, a partner at Treasury Strategies.

As the amount of data captured and stored grows exponentially, reports that were once simple logs and lists have become larger and denser, but not necessarily more transparent, notes Paul Higdon, chief technology officer at IT2, a treasury workstation vendor. Reporting technology is crossing new frontiers so that data can be aggregated and summarized, filtered for the most useful information, arranged in graphic displays and packaged into the reports most useful as tactical business intelligence tools. “Automated reporting can do a lot of the numbers crunching for treasury staffs and show them trends and patterns they need to make decisions,” Higdon says.

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