The word "creative" can sometimes have negative connotations in corporate finance and risk management functions. In many of those departments' areas of responsibility, following the rules is mandatory. Looking for "creative" solutions may be seen to entail skirting those rules.

That said, companies must innovate to stay competitive in the age of globalization and the Internet. Standing still is not an option. That may seem obvious in sales, marketing, and customer service, but it's equally true for internal-facing groups such as finance and risk management. To optimally support the business, finance and risk teams need to think outside the box as a matter of routine. That's a best practice exemplified by this year's winners of the Alexander Hamilton Awards in Operational Risk Management & Insurance.

For Microsoft, creativity in treasury is a treasured tradition—and one that proved valuable when the company needed to find a new way of reconciling its internal books with the data in its European Market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR) trade repository. No purpose-built solution was available on the market, so initially senior treasury manager Eric Barka began performing reconciliations manually using spreadsheets. The process was extremely time-consuming, so Barka began looking for a better way.

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Meg Waters

Meg Waters is the editor in chief of Treasury & Risk. She is the former editor in chief of BPM Magazine and the former managing editor of Business Finance.