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USI’s treasury team has always been lean, even as the business has grown exponentially. Harnessing the right technologies at each stage of organizational maturity has been key to success with a small staff.

The insurance and financial services company launched in 1994 with a single office and a team of 40 people. Today, it has more than 8,000 employees in offices in every U.S. state as well as several international locations. “USI made more than 100 acquisitions in its first few years of existence, and management typically just left them alone to operate as they had been operating,” says Nancy Colwell, director of treasury. “Before I joined in 2003, the entire treasury department consisted of one cash manager—an information consolidator tasked with capturing the corporate cash position on a spreadsheet.”

Core treasury activities varied from location to location. “There was no cohesion,” Colwell explains, “and trying to consolidate information from across the company wasn’t terribly efficient. Every business unit was cutting checks out of its own accounts. My first goal when I started was to determine the optimal banking structure across the company.”

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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.

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