|Ayeesha Sachedina, chief transformation officer, global transaction services, Bank of America|
The treasury of tomorrow promises to be technology-led and address the pain points treasurers face today. And while these tech-led innovations have been gradually developing over the last decade, the acceleration stemming from the Covid crisis positions treasurers to capture new opportunities.
Tech-led innovations, particularly those resulting in digitization and automation will create millions of new jobs that will boost global productivity, a recent BofA Global Research report suggests. Treasury departments will similarly undergo changes. “We’ve seen a shift,” states Ayeesha Sachedina, Chief Transformation Officer, Global Transaction Services at Bank of America. “There was a focus on technical skills before the pandemic, including knowing everything about ERP [enterprise resource planning] systems. “And, if you are thinking that everything is going to be automated in the future, the element that humans add to the mix is the ability to think critically, be creative, come up with new products and think strategically. This is making treasury become more of a strategic element of the company.”
“The emphasis is on data and new technology, such as the Internet-of-Things and Artificial Intelligence,” explains Aziz Parvez, Asia-Pacific Head of Corporate Sales, Global Transaction Services at Bank of America. “Technologies that enable insights, enhance products, create new services and streamline operations are getting a lot of prominence.”
|Aziz Parvez, Asia-Pacific head of corporate sales, global transaction services, Bank of America|
And clients are basically looking for value-add, he shares. “They are looking for data-driven perspectives and solutions that give the treasurer the efficiency that allows them to make better decisions.” The overall digital experience is another area that is gaining attention. “Digital was slowly getting a lot of prominence,” Parvez adds. “With the Covid situation, it has significantly gained pace. Clients are looking for end-to-end digital enablement, including proactive communications by expanding alert options, enhancing system mobility and messaging.”
The pandemic has changed the landscape, Sachedina agrees. “What we’ve seen is that artificial intelligence has been commoditized. It is not really a question of whether you are using it or not anymore. It’s how are you using it. That’s the question from clients.”
What also has emerged is having the ability to do business anytime and anywhere. “Clients are looking for flexibility of platforms and solutions,” Parvez adds. “They want to ensure that the systems are ‘always on’. They are looking for the visibility and ease of execution, which is relevant from the perspective of anytime, anywhere.”
And all of these offerings need to be brought together easily in an integrated manner. “Unless you have integration between the systems, automation is going to be difficult,” he continues. This is why APIs are gaining traction as they are much easier to deploy and connect with other providers. Interestingly, as Sachedina has observed at Bank of America, the consumer and commercial clients’ experiences have begun to converge with that of the bank’s employees. “What Covid has also done now is bring the employee experience into that,” she explains. “It’s also about our employees that work with our clients. What is the experience that they go through? What are the tools that we are providing them to do their job better, to automate it, to use artificial intelligence, to power better insights for our clients?”
With all of these new technological imperatives, Parvez notes that working capital management and cash planning have become much more relevant as a lot of companies have realized that in order for them to survive, for the ratings to be retained and not be downgraded, they have to manage their cash very well. “Clients are looking to move away from reporting to where it becomes more predictive – and on an automated basis.”
As digitization takes root, a company’s overall risk management, and being on top of issues such as cybersecurity and fraud prevention, has become a key focus area. “A lot of clients who in the past wouldn’t have experience or been concerned with these, now seem to be looking at it in terms of how they can ensure that they educate their employees,” concludes Parvez.