Bye bye, batches; hello future

Real-time innovations let finance staff reinvent the workday

For decades, arbitrary timelines and manual activities have defined financial operations and the treasury management workday. 

  • Mornings start with an early cup of coffee and determining the daily cash position by 10 a.m. 
  • Afternoons feature an array of deadlines for ACH processing windows, investment sweeps, and intraday activity reports. 
  • In between, there’s a relentless amount of logging into various bank portals, third-party payment applications, and company systems to download, upload, copy, paste, and otherwise manipulate data. 

While the business size, location, and industry may vary, much of treasury management’s job looks strikingly similar no matter which company you visit. 

Going forward, there are game-changing options that have treasury professionals excited about the future. One of the most anticipated is real-time treasury, which has the potential for staff to reinvent their workday around value, control, and strategic business activities. 

Immediate information changes the game

Just what is real-time treasury? Simply put, it’s a finance ecosystem that leverages a central system, such as a company ERP or treasury workstation; typically, a system that resides in the cloud. Connected to this primary workspace are a number of secure and “always on” connections with banks, suppliers, payment platforms, and other resources where transactions and data are readily available, in a format that’s current, accurate, and easy to digest. 

When treasury staff need information, they log into their system and access it — without the time-consuming steps of logging into a bank portal, retrieving a BAI file or report, and making changes in their own system or spreadsheet. When it’s time to make a payment, they create, approve, and release the transaction — without the need to produce a batch file. It’s an environment centered around immediacy of information and ease of use.

The opportunities for staff are numerous:

  • Greater control of the workday
  • Less re-entry of data
  • Timely access to key reports, balances, and information
  • Fewer external systems and portals to use
  • More time devoted to analysis and strategic activities

High velocity speeds power reports, payments, and liquidity

Saying bye bye to batch processing is a major switch — but not something that’s the stuff of science fiction. In fact, it’s already prevalent at companies that have adopted faster payments. New methods such as Same Day ACH, Real-Time Payments (RTPs), and Zelle® all occur individually rather than in batches. These one-at-a-time transactions make it possible to move funds at high velocity speeds. 

APIs are another cornerstone of real-time treasury. This technology provides the secure real-time conduit to exchange data between company systems and trading partners, such as banks. APIs facilitate a constant flow of timely information directly into an ERP or treasury workstation. Companies can dictate exactly where the data belongs and the frequency of system updates, eliminating legwork for treasury staff. 

Helping treasury work smarter

Real-time treasury taps into an accelerated pace and focuses on ease of use across finance. Opportunities for staff to work smarter (not harder) may include:

  • Generating reports. Instead of spending time hunting down data from multiple sources and manually consolidating it into a single spreadsheet or report, a real-time approach makes information like account balances and transaction details readily available in a single location. 
  • Making decisions. Treasury staff and senior leaders can truly operate at the speed of business, thanks to faster, easier access to critical finance data at any time during the business day, rather than adapting to the timeframes imposed by third-parties.
  • Managing liquidity. Imagine having daily cash positioning details available at the touch of a button, the ability to move funds between accounts in seconds, or to realize the maximum possible float before making a supplier payment. Real-time treasury greatly expands the options for optimizing working capital and managing liquidity, creating a significant competitive advantage for adopters. 
  • Serving customers. There’s far less patience today when consumers or businesses need support. Real-time access to information can eliminate many of the bottlenecks that exist today, such as the lag between receiving and posting a payment, or posting a payment and notifying customers of credit availability for new sales.
  • Mitigate risk. When staff work within a single interface, companies gain more control of security. Embedding bank data, reports, and other functionality within an ERP or primary system means fewer passwords and login credentials to manage and fewer opportunities for potential issues.
  • Executing payments. Rather than the limits of batch processing schedules, faster payment options give treasury far more control of payment timing, working capital, and the movement of funds. Several options already exist, with new methods on the horizon.
  • Monitoring foreign exchange. A real-time approach to FX can help treasury staff improve risk management when working internationally. It’s another way to focus on analysis and strategy rather than tracking down rates and information.

Treasury management’s function remains essential, but the role continues to evolve. The introduction of real-time treasury offerings creates another dimension that will ultimately unleash new opportunities for finance professionals.

For more information, contact your Wells Fargo representative.

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