Treasury 4.x – Trends for Insurers

May 2024
7 min read

Insurance Treasury is evolving into Treasury 4.x, a forward-thinking paradigm integrating advanced technology and strategic foresight to enhance efficiency and resilience in the digital era.


The productivity and performance of the treasury function within insurance companies have undergone a transformative evolution, driven by the emergence of what is now termed Treasury 4.x. In this digital era, characterized by rapid technological advancements, Insurance Treasury is transitioning towards a more dynamic and strategic role. Treasury 4.x is distinguished by its capacity to envision and operate within various financial scenarios, reflecting a forward-thinking approach. The contemporary Insurance Treasury aligns itself with the principles of "Fit-for-purpose" – emphasizing a centralized organizational structure embedded seamlessly within the financial supply chain. Highly automated processes, often referred to as "exception-based management," are integral to this paradigm shift, enabling treasuries to focus resources on critical issues and exceptions, thereby enhancing efficiency and minimizing manual intervention. This evolution underscores the imperative for insurance treasuries to leverage cutting-edge technologies and embrace a proactive, scenario-driven mindset, ensuring adaptability and resilience in the face of dynamic market conditions. 

Innovation of Payment Landscape

In the ever-evolving landscape of payment innovation within the treasury functions of insurance companies, a pivotal focus has been placed on migrating to the ISO 20022 XML messaging standard and moving away from FIN MT messages. This migration, driven by SWIFT, is not just a strategic choice but an industry-wide mandate, compelling all financial institutions, including insurance companies, to transition to the ISO standard by November 2025. This migration is a cornerstone in revolutionizing payment processes, offering a standardized and enriched data format that not only enhances interoperability but also facilitates more robust and information-rich communication. As insurance companies navigate this time-sensitive transition, a review of address logic within payment files becomes even more critical. The insurance companies are mandated to review and refine address logic within payment files by November 2026. Ensuring that the company is compliant with evolving financial messaging standards will not only improve the overall efficiency, speed and compliance of payments, but it will also provide the opportunity to redefine the best-in-class cash management operating model. 

In additional to the industry migration to a new messaging standard, the introduction of Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) could impact the traditional roles of treasuries by offering new means of payment, settlement, and potentially altering liquidity management strategies. CBDCs could enhance efficiency in cross-border transactions, simplify reconciliation processes, and influence investment strategies. Insurance treasuries might need to adapt their systems and processes to incorporate CBDCs effectively, ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements and taking advantage of potential benefits associated with this digital form of currency. We are also witnessing an increase in momentum around the use of distributed ledger technology within the wholesale banking domain. In December, JP Morgan announced it was live on Partior, the Singapore-based interbank payment network that uses blockchain and is designed as a multi-bank, multi-currency system for wholesale use, with each bank controlling its own node. This is clear evidence we are starting to gain real traction around potential solutions using both blockchain and CBDC’s that will further increase the number of payment rails available to support the payments ecosystem.  

Finally, the payment landscape of insurance companies sees further innovation with Faster Claims Payment (FCP). This solution streamlines the disbursement of claims, decoupling it from traditional monthly processes. FCP integrates seamlessly with the Vitesse payment platform, ensuring direct access to insurer funds and significantly reducing delays in payments. This paradigm shift promotes efficiency and enhances customer satisfaction through its accelerated claims payment system. The innovative payment landscape, however, could highlight a potential impact for processes of insurance treasuries. Increased application of faster and real-time payments requires insurance treasuries to have sufficient liquidity readily available to meet the immediate financial obligations. This demands careful planning of cash reserves to ensure uninterrupted claim processing while maintaining financial stability and stresses the importance of effective cash management for navigating any potential downside impact of FCP. 

Changing Macroeconomic Environment

The insurance treasury is profoundly influenced by macroeconomic events, and the convergence of several geopolitical challenges has introduced heightened uncertainty and downside risks. Elevated geopolitical tensions, particularly the intensified strategic rivalry between the United States and China, the Russia-Ukraine war, and the recent Middle East conflict, pose significant threats to the insurance industry's stability. These events bring the potential for energy price shocks, amplifying concerns about increased insurance industry losses stemming from geopolitical and economic upheavals. Furthermore, the scheduled elections in 76 countries, with pivotal ones in the United States, Taiwan, and India, add an additional layer of uncertainty. Political transitions can introduce policy shifts, impacting regulatory environments and potentially altering economic landscapes, further complicating risk assessment for insurance treasuries. As the global geopolitical landscape remains dynamic, insurance treasuries must navigate these challenges prudently, emphasizing resilience and adaptability in their financial strategies to mitigate potential adverse impacts. 

Interest rate changes command a substantial impact on the treasury functions of insurance companies, and the recent shifts in central bank policies have introduced a dynamic landscape. The conclusion of the central banks' rate tightening cycle, coupled with the Federal Reserve's announcement of rate cuts for 2024 and beyond, signals a pivotal change. While these rate cuts are aimed at supporting economic recovery, they pose challenges for insurance treasuries that traditionally benefit from higher interest rates. The insurance industry faces the paradox of modest GDP growth across advanced economies, with the downside risk of a potential rebound in inflation and further geopolitical shocks. The relatively elevated interest rates, however, offer a silver lining for (re)insurers, providing a boost to future recurring income. As maturing assets are reinvested at higher rates, this strategic advantage could help mitigate some of the challenges posed by the shifting interest rate environment, fostering resilience and adaptability in the treasury functions of insurance companies. 

Taking into account the aforementioned macroeconomic changes, insurance treasuries must ensure they possess local treasury experts capable of supporting multiple regions with adapting to shifting business dynamics.

Changing Market Rates

The impact of changing market rates on the asset management activities of insurers is profound, extending to collateral management practices. Market rate fluctuations exert direct influence on the valuation and performance of their investment portfolios, notably affecting the required Variation Margin (VR) and Uncleared Margin Rules (UMR) on derivatives holdings. As rates oscillate, the value of derivative positions can vary significantly, necessitating adjustments in margin requirements to effectively manage risk exposures and collateral obligations. 

Additionally, these changes in market rates affect the liquidity position of insurers, prompting the need for more dynamic models to optimize liquidity management. Given the importance of maintaining sufficient cash and liquid assets, insurers must adapt their strategies to ensure they can meet obligations promptly, especially considering the impact of FX fluctuations on assets denominated in non-base currencies. This entails employing more dynamic models to gauge liquidity needs accurately and employing strategies such as RePo agreements to enhance flexibility in accessing cash when required. Thus, navigating the complexities of changing market rates requires insurers to employ a comprehensive approach that integrates risk management, liquidity optimization, and currency hedging strategies. 

Data Analytics and Predictive Modelling

The integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive analytics has revolutionized the treasury function within insurance companies, particularly in the realm of cash flow forecasting. These advanced technologies enable insurance treasuries to analyze vast datasets, identify patterns, and make more accurate predictions regarding future cash flows. AI algorithms can process information rapidly, taking into account a multitude of variables, such as market trends, policyholder behavior, and economic indicators. This enhanced predictive capability is instrumental in optimizing liquidity management, allowing insurance companies to proactively anticipate cash needs and allocate resources efficiently. The importance of AI and predictive analytics in cash flow forecasting cannot be overstated, as it empowers treasuries to make informed decisions, mitigate financial risks, and navigate the complexities of the insurance landscape with greater precision and agility.

Regulatory Compliance

Regulatory compliance is pivotal for insurance company treasuries, significantly influencing financial strategies and operations. The complex regulatory landscape, including directives like the Insurance Recovery and Resolution Directive, Solvency II, and EMIR Refit, aims at ensuring financial stability, consumer protection, and market integrity. These requirements, from solvency standards to reporting obligations, impact how treasuries manage assets, liabilities, and capital. Non-compliance can lead to severe consequences, prompting insurance treasuries to invest in sophisticated systems for continuous monitoring. Striking a balance between compliance and strategic financial goals is crucial for navigating the regulatory environment and ensuring long-term organizational sustainability. 

Additionally, insurance companies operating across different jurisdictions face fragmented compliance regulations, consisting of local laws and regulations. This has become a prominent challenge experienced by insurance company treasuries and visible in various treasury processes, from payments to liquidity management. Establishing robust processes and conducting regular compliance reviews could help insurance companies to address the fragmented compliance framework. By proactively addressing compliance challenges and embracing innovative solutions, insurance companies could achieve robust global operations and success in an increasingly interconnected world.   

For more information about Treasury 4.x, download our latest whitepaper: Treasury 4.x - The age of productivity, performance and steering.

Exploring the Shift: From ‘Best of Breed’ to ‘Integrated’ Treasury Management Systems and vice versa

March 2024
7 min read

Insurance Treasury is evolving into Treasury 4.x, a forward-thinking paradigm integrating advanced technology and strategic foresight to enhance efficiency and resilience in the digital era.


In large organizations, the tendency is to select large scale ERP systems to support as much of the organization's business processes within this system. This is a goal that is driven typically by the IT department as this approach reduces the number of different technologies and minimizes the integration between systems. Such a streamlined and simplified system architecture looks to mitigate risk by reducing the potential points of failure and total cost of ownership.

Over the years the treasury department has at times chosen to rather deploy “best of breed” treasury management systems and integrate this separate system to the ERP system. The treasury business processes and therefore systems also come with some significant integration points in terms of trading platforms, market data and bank integration for tasks such as trade confirmations, payments, bank statements and payment monitoring messaging.

The IT department may view this integration complexity as an opportunity for simplification if the ERP systems are able to provide acceptable treasury and risk management functionalities. Especially if some of the integrations that the treasury requires does overlap with the needs of the rest of the business – i.e. payments, bank statements and market data.

Meanwhile, the treasury department will want to ensure that they have as much straight through processing and automation as possible with robust integration. Since their high value transactions are time sensitive, a breakdown in processing would result in negative transactional cost implications with their bank counterparts.

Deciphering Treasury System Selection: Below the Surface 

The decision-making process for selecting a system for treasury operations is complex and involves various factors. Some are very much driven by unique financial business risks, leading to a functional based decision process. However, there are often underlying organizational challenges that play a far more significant role in this process than you would expect. Some challenges stem from behavioral dimensions like the desire for autonomy and control from the treasury. While others are based on an age-old perception that the “grass is greener on the other side” – meaning the current system frustrations result in a preference to move away from current systems.

An added and lesser appreciated perspective is that most organizations tend to mainly focus on technical upgrades but not often functional upgrades on systems that are implemented.  Meaning that existing systems tend to resemble the version of the system based on when the original implementation took place. This will also lead to a comparison of the current (older version) system against the competing offerings latest and greatest.

Another key observation is that with implementing integrated TMS solutions like the SAP TRM solution in the context of the same ERP environment, the requirements can become more extensive as the possibilities for automating more with all source information increase. Consider for example the FX hedging processes where the source exposure information is readily available and potential to access and rebalance hedge positions becomes more dynamic.

Closing thoughts

There is no single right answer to this question for all cases. However, it is important to ensure that the process you follow in making this decision is sound, informed and fair. Involving an external specialist with experience in navigating such decisions and exposure to various offerings is invaluable.

To support these activities, Zanders has also built solutions to make the process as easy as it can possibly be, including a cloud-based system selection tool.

Moreover for longer term satisfaction, enabling the evolution of the current treasury system (be it best of breed or integrated) is essential. The system should evolve with time and not remain locked into its origin based on the original implementation. Here engaging with a specialist partner with the right expertise to support the treasury and IT organizations is key. This can improve the experience of the system and this increased satisfaction can ensure decision making is not driven or led by negativity.

In support of this area Zanders has a dedicated service called TTS which can come alongside your existing IT support organization and inject the necessary skill and insight to enable incremental improvements alongside improved resolution timeframes for day-to-day systems issues.

For more information about out Treasury Technology Service, reach out to Warren Epstein.

Bolt chooses treasury efficiency in scale-up of business 

Revolutionizing Bolt’s Treasury: Efficiency, Reliability, and Growth


Mid 2023, Bolt successfully implemented its new full-fledged treasury management system (TMS). With assistance of Zanders consultants, the mobility company implemented Kyriba – a necessity to support Bolt’s small treasury team. As a result, all daily processes are almost completely automated. “It's about reliability.”

Bolt is the leading European mobility platform that’s focused on more efficient, convenient and sustainable solutions for urban travelling. With more than 150 million customers in at least 45 countries, it offers a range of mobility services including ride-hailing, shared cars and scooters, food and grocery delivery. “Bolt was founded by Markus Villig, a young Estonian guy who quit his school to start this business with €5,000 that he borrowed from his parents,” says Mahmoud Iskandarani, Group Treasurer at Bolt. “He built an app and started to ask drivers on the street to download it and try it out. Now we have millions of drivers and passengers, almost 4,000 employees and several business lines. Last August, we celebrated our 10th anniversary. So, we have one of the fastest growing businesses in Europe. And our ambition is to grow even faster than so far.” 

Driven by technology 

Because of its fast growth, Bolt’s Treasury team decided to look for a scalable solution to cope with the further expansion of the business. Freek van den Engel, Treasury manager at Bolt: “We needed a system that could automate most of our daily processes and add value. Doing things manually is not efficient and risks are high. To help us scale up while maintaining efficiency, we needed our Treasury to be driven by technology.” 

Iskandarani adds: “Meanwhile, our macro environment is changing and we had some bank events. In the past years, startups or scale-ups have seen big growth and didn't focus too much on working capital management. Interest rates were low, which made it easy to raise money from investors. Now, we need to make sure that we manage our working capital the right way so that we can access our money, mitigate risks, and that we get a decent return on our cash. That’s when it's controlled by Treasury and invested correctly.” 

Choosing Kyriba

Van den Engel led a treasury system selection process three years ago for his previous employer, where he also worked together with Iskandarani. “That experience helped us to come up with a shortlist of three providers, instead of having a very long RfP process looking at a long list of vendors. We started the selection process in June 2022 and two months later we chose Kyriba because of its strong functionality. Also, it’s a solution offered as SaaS, which means we don't have to worry about upgrades – a very important reason for us. Kyriba has been working with tech companies similar to ours. Another decisive factor was their format library, called Open Format Studio. It allows us to use self-service when it comes to configuring payment formats, reducing our costs and turn-around time when expanding to new geographies.” 

Implementation partner 

For Bolt, Kyriba will function as in-house bank system, and support its European cash pool. During the selection process, the team had some reference calls with other Kyriba users to discuss experiences with the system and the implementation. “One piece of feedback we received was that it works very well to bring in implementation partners to complete such a project successfully. Zanders stood out, because of its proven track record and the awards it had won. Also, Mahmoud and I both had experience with Zanders during some projects at our previous employer. That’s why we asked them to be our implementation partner.” 

In October 2022, the implementation process started. In July 2023, the system went live. Kyriba’s TMS solution covered all treasury core processes, including cash position reporting (including intra-day balance information), liquidity management, funding, foreign exchange with automatic integration to 360T and Finastra, investments, payment settlements and risk management.  

Trained towards independency 

As part of the implementation process, Zanders trained Bolt on how to use the new tool, and assisted in using the Open Format Studio. In this way, the team built the knowledge and experience needed to roll out to new countries more independently.  

Van den Engel: “We aimed to be independent and do as much as possible ourselves to reduce costs and build up in-house expertise on the system. Zanders helped us figuring out what we wanted, explained and guided us, and showed what the system can do and how to align that with our needs in the best possible way. Once we were clear on the blueprint, they helped us with our static data, connectivity and initial system set-up. After the training they led, we were able to do most of it ourselves, including the actual system configuration work, for which Zanders had laid the foundation.” 

Rolling out the payment hub 

With assistance of Zanders consultants, Bolt also set up a framework to roll out the payment hub, for the vendor payments from its ERP system called Workday and its payroll provider, Immedis. The consultants assisted with configuration of initial payment scenarios and workflows. “We made the connections, tested them and did a pilot with Workday last summer. After training and with the experience that we've built up using Open Format Studio, we can roll out to new countries and expand it ourselves. Starting in August, we continued to roll out Kyriba’s payment hub to more countries, and to implement Payroll. With the payment hub we are now live in 16 countries and that's basically fully self-serviced. Apart from some support for specialized cases, we don’t need support anymore for the payment hub.” 

Many material benefits 

Having a small hands-on project team meant no need for a complex project management organization to be set-up. Naturally Bolt and Zanders started using agile project management, with refocus of priorities to different streams as necessary. The Kyriba implementation project was closed within the set budget in 9 months’ time.  

Iskandarani is happy with the results. “It is clear there are benefits of this implementation when it comes to efficiency and risk management. We now have the visibility over our cash and the fact that we have a system telling us that there’s an exposure that we should get rid of, that has a lot of value. Also, we have some financial benefits that we could not have achieved without the system. Today we can pool our cash better, we can invest it better, and we can handle our foreign exchange in a better way. Before this, we have overpaid banks.” 

Reliability and control 

“We could have hired more people”, Van den Engel adds. “But some things are just very difficult to do without this system. It's also about reliability. Even if you have a manual process in place that works, you will see it breaking down from time to time. If someone deletes a formula, or a macro stops working, that becomes very risky. It’s also about the control environment. As a company we're looking to become more mature and implement controls that should be there – that too is very difficult to do without a proper system that can generate these reports, be properly secured with all the right standards that we need to adhere to, or do fraud detection based on machine learning in the future. It's impossible to do all that manually. Those are material benefits, but hard to quantify.”

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How Royal FloraHolland grew a global cash management bank relationship from scratch

Revolutionizing Bolt’s Treasury: Efficiency, Reliability, and Growth


The floriculture market is changing to trading that increasingly occurs directly between growers and buyers. Our role is therefore changing too

Wilco van de Wijnboom, Royal FloraHolland’s Manager Corporate Finance

quote

Royal FloraHolland is a cooperative of flower and plant growers. It connects growers and buyers in the international floriculture industry by offering unique combinations of deal-making, logistics, and financial services. Connecting 5,406 suppliers with 2,458 buyers and offering a solid foundation to all these players, Royal FloraHolland is the largest floriculture marketplace in the world.

The company’s turnover reached EUR 4.8 billion (in 2019) with an operating income of EUR 369 million. Yearly, it trades 12.3 billion flowers and plants, with an average of at least 100k transactions a day.

The floriculture cooperative was established 110 years ago, organizing flower auctions via so-called clock sales. During these sales, flowers were offered for a high price first, which lowered once the clock started ticking. The price went down until one of the buyers pushed the buying button, leaving the other buyers with empty hands.


Challenge

The Floriday platform

Around twenty years ago, the clock sales model started to change. “The floriculture market is changing to trading that increasingly occurs directly between growers and buyers. Our role is therefore changing too,” Wilco van de Wijnboom, Royal FloraHolland’s manager corporate finance, explains. “What we do now is mainly the financing part – the invoices and the daily collection of payments, for example. Our business has developed both geographically and digitally, so we noticed an increased need for a platform for the global flower trade. We therefore developed a new digital platform called Floriday, which enables us to deliver products faster, fresher and in larger amounts to customers worldwide. It is an innovative B2B platform where growers can make their assortment available worldwide, and customers are able to transact in various ways, both nationally and internationally.”

The Floriday platform aims to provide a wider range of services to pay and receive funds in euros, but also in other currencies, and across different jurisdictions. Since it would help treasury to deal with all payments worldwide, Royal FloraHolland needed an international cash management bank too. Van de Wijnboom: “It has been a process of a few years. As part of our strategy, we wanted to grow internationally, and it was clear we needed an international bank to do so. At the same time, our commercial department had some leads for flower business from Saudi-Arabia and Kenya. Early in 2020, all developments – from the commercial, digital and financing points of view – came together.”


Solution

RfP track record

Royal FloraHolland’s financial department decided to contact Zanders for support. Selecting a cash management bank is not something we do every day, so we needed support to find the right one,” says Pim Zaalberg, treasury consultant at Royal FloraHolland. “We have been working together with Zanders on several projects since 2010 and know which subject matter expertise they can provide. They previously advised us on the capital structure of the company and led the arranging process of the bank financing of the company in 2017. Furthermore, they assisted in the SWIFT connectivity project, introducing payments-on-behalf-of. They are broadly experienced and have a proven track record in drafting an RfP. They exactly know which questions to ask and what is important, so it was a logical step to ask them to support us in the project lead and the contact with the international banks.”

Zanders consultant Michal Zelazko adds: “We use a standardized bank selection methodology at Zanders, but importantly this can be adjusted to the specific needs of projects and clients. This case contained specific geographical jurisdictions and payment methods with respect to the Floriday platform. Other factors were, among others, pre-payments and the consideration to have a separate entity to ensure the safety of all transactions.”

Strategic partner

The project started in June 2020, a period in which the turnover figures managed to rebound significantly, after the initial fall caused by the corona pandemic. Van de Wijnboom: “The impact we currently have is on the flowers coming from overseas, for example from Kenya and Ethiopia. The growers there have really had a difficult time, because the number of flights from those countries has decreased heavily. Meanwhile, many people continued to buy flowers when they were in lockdown, to brighten up their new home offices.”

Together with Zanders, Royal FloraHolland drafted the goals and then started selecting the banks they wanted to invite to find out whether they could meet these goals. All questions for the banks about the cooperative’s expected turnover, profit and perspectives could be answered positively. Zaalberg explains that the bank for international cash management was also chosen to be a strategic partner for the company: “We did not choose a bank to do only payments, but we needed a bank to think along with us on our international plans and one that offers innovative solutions in the e-commerce area. The bank we chose, Citibank, is now helping us with our international strategy and is able to propose solutions for our future goals.”

The Royal FloraHolland team involved in the selection process now look back confidently on the process and choice. Zaalberg: “We are very proud of the short timelines of this project, starting in June and selecting the bank in September – all done virtually and by phone. It was quite a precedent to do it this way. You have to work with a clear plan and be very strict in presentation and input gathering. I hope it is not the new normal, but it worked well and was quite efficient too. We met banks from Paris and Dublin on the same day without moving from our desks.”

Van de Wijnboom agrees and stresses the importance of a well-managed process: “You only have one chance – when choosing an international bank for cash management it will be a collaboration for the next couple of years.”

We have been working together with Zanders on several projects since 2010 and know which subject matter expertise they can provide

Pim Zaalberg, Treasury Consultant at Royal FloraHolland

quote

RfP track record

Royal FloraHolland’s financial department decided to contact Zanders for support. Selecting a cash management bank is not something we do every day, so we needed support to find the right one,” says Pim Zaalberg, treasury consultant at Royal FloraHolland. “We have been working together with Zanders on several projects since 2010 and know which subject matter expertise they can provide. They previously advised us on the capital structure of the company and led the arranging process of the bank financing of the company in 2017. Furthermore, they assisted in the SWIFT connectivity project, introducing payments-on-behalf-of. They are broadly experienced and have a proven track record in drafting an RfP. They exactly know which questions to ask and what is important, so it was a logical step to ask them to support us in the project lead and the contact with the international banks.”

Zanders consultant Michal Zelazko adds: “We use a standardized bank selection methodology at Zanders, but importantly this can be adjusted to the specific needs of projects and clients. This case contained specific geographical jurisdictions and payment methods with respect to the Floriday platform. Other factors were, among others, pre-payments and the consideration to have a separate entity to ensure the safety of all transactions.”

Strategic partner

The project started in June 2020, a period in which the turnover figures managed to rebound significantly, after the initial fall caused by the corona pandemic. Van de Wijnboom: “The impact we currently have is on the flowers coming from overseas, for example from Kenya and Ethiopia. The growers there have really had a difficult time, because the number of flights from those countries has decreased heavily. Meanwhile, many people continued to buy flowers when they were in lockdown, to brighten up their new home offices.”

Together with Zanders, Royal FloraHolland drafted the goals and then started selecting the banks they wanted to invite to find out whether they could meet these goals. All questions for the banks about the cooperative’s expected turnover, profit and perspectives could be answered positively. Zaalberg explains that the bank for international cash management was also chosen to be a strategic partner for the company: “We did not choose a bank to do only payments, but we needed a bank to think along with us on our international plans and one that offers innovative solutions in the e-commerce area. The bank we chose, Citibank, is now helping us with our international strategy and is able to propose solutions for our future goals.”

The Royal FloraHolland team involved in the selection process now look back confidently on the process and choice. Zaalberg: “We are very proud of the short timelines of this project, starting in June and selecting the bank in September – all done virtually and by phone. It was quite a precedent to do it this way. You have to work with a clear plan and be very strict in presentation and input gathering. I hope it is not the new normal, but it worked well and was quite efficient too. We met banks from Paris and Dublin on the same day without moving from our desks.”

Van de Wijnboom agrees and stresses the importance of a well-managed process: “You only have one chance – when choosing an international bank for cash management it will be a collaboration for the next couple of years.”


Performance

Future plans

The future plans of the company are focused on venturing out to new jurisdictions, specifically in the finance space, to offer more currencies for both growers and buyers. “This could go as far as paying growers in their local currency,” says Zaalberg. “Now we only use euros and US dollars, but we look at ways to accommodate payments in other currencies too. We look at our cash pool structure too. We made sure that, in the RfP, we asked the banks whether they could provide cash pooling in a way that was able to use more currencies. We started simple but have chosen the bank that can support more complex setups of cash management structures as well.” Zelazko adds: “It is an ambitious goal but very much in line with what we see in other companies.”

Also, in the longer term, Royal FloraHolland is considering connecting the Floriday platform to its treasury management system. Van de Wijnboom: “Currently, these two systems are not directly connected, but we could do this in the future. When we had the selection interviews with the banks, we discussed the prepayments situation – how do we make sure that the platform is immediately updated when there is a prepayment? If it is not connected, someone needs to take care of the reconciliation.”

There are some new markets and trade lanes to enter, as Van de Wijnboom concludes: ”We now see some trade lanes between Kenya and The Middle East. The flower farmers indicate that we can play an intermediate role if it is at low costs and if payments occur in US dollars. So, it helps us to have an international cash management bank that can easily do the transactions in US dollars.”

Zanders Transfer Pricing Suite

Would you like to hear more about the bank selection process or other treasury-related challenges? Then please contact Michal Zelazko.

Customer successes

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MODEC’s step to an automated FX hedging process

Revolutionizing Bolt’s Treasury: Efficiency, Reliability, and Growth


The floriculture market is changing to trading that increasingly occurs directly between growers and buyers. Our role is therefore changing too

Wilco van de Wijnboom, Royal FloraHolland’s Manager Corporate Finance

quote

Royal FloraHolland is a cooperative of flower and plant growers. It connects growers and buyers in the international floriculture industry by offering unique combinations of deal-making, logistics, and financial services. Connecting 5,406 suppliers with 2,458 buyers and offering a solid foundation to all these players, Royal FloraHolland is the largest floriculture marketplace in the world.

The company’s turnover reached EUR 4.8 billion (in 2019) with an operating income of EUR 369 million. Yearly, it trades 12.3 billion flowers and plants, with an average of at least 100k transactions a day.

The floriculture cooperative was established 110 years ago, organizing flower auctions via so-called clock sales. During these sales, flowers were offered for a high price first, which lowered once the clock started ticking. The price went down until one of the buyers pushed the buying button, leaving the other buyers with empty hands.


Challenge

The Floriday platform

Around twenty years ago, the clock sales model started to change. “The floriculture market is changing to trading that increasingly occurs directly between growers and buyers. Our role is therefore changing too,” Wilco van de Wijnboom, Royal FloraHolland’s manager corporate finance, explains. “What we do now is mainly the financing part – the invoices and the daily collection of payments, for example. Our business has developed both geographically and digitally, so we noticed an increased need for a platform for the global flower trade. We therefore developed a new digital platform called Floriday, which enables us to deliver products faster, fresher and in larger amounts to customers worldwide. It is an innovative B2B platform where growers can make their assortment available worldwide, and customers are able to transact in various ways, both nationally and internationally.”

The Floriday platform aims to provide a wider range of services to pay and receive funds in euros, but also in other currencies, and across different jurisdictions. Since it would help treasury to deal with all payments worldwide, Royal FloraHolland needed an international cash management bank too. Van de Wijnboom: “It has been a process of a few years. As part of our strategy, we wanted to grow internationally, and it was clear we needed an international bank to do so. At the same time, our commercial department had some leads for flower business from Saudi-Arabia and Kenya. Early in 2020, all developments – from the commercial, digital and financing points of view – came together.”


Solution

RfP track record

Royal FloraHolland’s financial department decided to contact Zanders for support. Selecting a cash management bank is not something we do every day, so we needed support to find the right one,” says Pim Zaalberg, treasury consultant at Royal FloraHolland. “We have been working together with Zanders on several projects since 2010 and know which subject matter expertise they can provide. They previously advised us on the capital structure of the company and led the arranging process of the bank financing of the company in 2017. Furthermore, they assisted in the SWIFT connectivity project, introducing payments-on-behalf-of. They are broadly experienced and have a proven track record in drafting an RfP. They exactly know which questions to ask and what is important, so it was a logical step to ask them to support us in the project lead and the contact with the international banks.”

Zanders consultant Michal Zelazko adds: “We use a standardized bank selection methodology at Zanders, but importantly this can be adjusted to the specific needs of projects and clients. This case contained specific geographical jurisdictions and payment methods with respect to the Floriday platform. Other factors were, among others, pre-payments and the consideration to have a separate entity to ensure the safety of all transactions.”

Strategic partner

The project started in June 2020, a period in which the turnover figures managed to rebound significantly, after the initial fall caused by the corona pandemic. Van de Wijnboom: “The impact we currently have is on the flowers coming from overseas, for example from Kenya and Ethiopia. The growers there have really had a difficult time, because the number of flights from those countries has decreased heavily. Meanwhile, many people continued to buy flowers when they were in lockdown, to brighten up their new home offices.”

Together with Zanders, Royal FloraHolland drafted the goals and then started selecting the banks they wanted to invite to find out whether they could meet these goals. All questions for the banks about the cooperative’s expected turnover, profit and perspectives could be answered positively. Zaalberg explains that the bank for international cash management was also chosen to be a strategic partner for the company: “We did not choose a bank to do only payments, but we needed a bank to think along with us on our international plans and one that offers innovative solutions in the e-commerce area. The bank we chose, Citibank, is now helping us with our international strategy and is able to propose solutions for our future goals.”

The Royal FloraHolland team involved in the selection process now look back confidently on the process and choice. Zaalberg: “We are very proud of the short timelines of this project, starting in June and selecting the bank in September – all done virtually and by phone. It was quite a precedent to do it this way. You have to work with a clear plan and be very strict in presentation and input gathering. I hope it is not the new normal, but it worked well and was quite efficient too. We met banks from Paris and Dublin on the same day without moving from our desks.”

Van de Wijnboom agrees and stresses the importance of a well-managed process: “You only have one chance – when choosing an international bank for cash management it will be a collaboration for the next couple of years.”

We have been working together with Zanders on several projects since 2010 and know which subject matter expertise they can provide

Pim Zaalberg, Treasury Consultant at Royal FloraHolland

quote

RfP track record

Royal FloraHolland’s financial department decided to contact Zanders for support. Selecting a cash management bank is not something we do every day, so we needed support to find the right one,” says Pim Zaalberg, treasury consultant at Royal FloraHolland. “We have been working together with Zanders on several projects since 2010 and know which subject matter expertise they can provide. They previously advised us on the capital structure of the company and led the arranging process of the bank financing of the company in 2017. Furthermore, they assisted in the SWIFT connectivity project, introducing payments-on-behalf-of. They are broadly experienced and have a proven track record in drafting an RfP. They exactly know which questions to ask and what is important, so it was a logical step to ask them to support us in the project lead and the contact with the international banks.”

Zanders consultant Michal Zelazko adds: “We use a standardized bank selection methodology at Zanders, but importantly this can be adjusted to the specific needs of projects and clients. This case contained specific geographical jurisdictions and payment methods with respect to the Floriday platform. Other factors were, among others, pre-payments and the consideration to have a separate entity to ensure the safety of all transactions.”

Strategic partner

The project started in June 2020, a period in which the turnover figures managed to rebound significantly, after the initial fall caused by the corona pandemic. Van de Wijnboom: “The impact we currently have is on the flowers coming from overseas, for example from Kenya and Ethiopia. The growers there have really had a difficult time, because the number of flights from those countries has decreased heavily. Meanwhile, many people continued to buy flowers when they were in lockdown, to brighten up their new home offices.”

Together with Zanders, Royal FloraHolland drafted the goals and then started selecting the banks they wanted to invite to find out whether they could meet these goals. All questions for the banks about the cooperative’s expected turnover, profit and perspectives could be answered positively. Zaalberg explains that the bank for international cash management was also chosen to be a strategic partner for the company: “We did not choose a bank to do only payments, but we needed a bank to think along with us on our international plans and one that offers innovative solutions in the e-commerce area. The bank we chose, Citibank, is now helping us with our international strategy and is able to propose solutions for our future goals.”

The Royal FloraHolland team involved in the selection process now look back confidently on the process and choice. Zaalberg: “We are very proud of the short timelines of this project, starting in June and selecting the bank in September – all done virtually and by phone. It was quite a precedent to do it this way. You have to work with a clear plan and be very strict in presentation and input gathering. I hope it is not the new normal, but it worked well and was quite efficient too. We met banks from Paris and Dublin on the same day without moving from our desks.”

Van de Wijnboom agrees and stresses the importance of a well-managed process: “You only have one chance – when choosing an international bank for cash management it will be a collaboration for the next couple of years.”


Performance

Future plans

The future plans of the company are focused on venturing out to new jurisdictions, specifically in the finance space, to offer more currencies for both growers and buyers. “This could go as far as paying growers in their local currency,” says Zaalberg. “Now we only use euros and US dollars, but we look at ways to accommodate payments in other currencies too. We look at our cash pool structure too. We made sure that, in the RfP, we asked the banks whether they could provide cash pooling in a way that was able to use more currencies. We started simple but have chosen the bank that can support more complex setups of cash management structures as well.” Zelazko adds: “It is an ambitious goal but very much in line with what we see in other companies.”

Also, in the longer term, Royal FloraHolland is considering connecting the Floriday platform to its treasury management system. Van de Wijnboom: “Currently, these two systems are not directly connected, but we could do this in the future. When we had the selection interviews with the banks, we discussed the prepayments situation – how do we make sure that the platform is immediately updated when there is a prepayment? If it is not connected, someone needs to take care of the reconciliation.”

There are some new markets and trade lanes to enter, as Van de Wijnboom concludes: ”We now see some trade lanes between Kenya and The Middle East. The flower farmers indicate that we can play an intermediate role if it is at low costs and if payments occur in US dollars. So, it helps us to have an international cash management bank that can easily do the transactions in US dollars.”

Contact

Would like to know more about our treasury system support in Asia? Then please contact Michiel Putman Cramer via +81 3 6892 3047.

Zanders listed on Swift Customer Security Programme (CSP) Assessment Providers directory 

July 2023
7 min read

Insurance Treasury is evolving into Treasury 4.x, a forward-thinking paradigm integrating advanced technology and strategic foresight to enhance efficiency and resilience in the digital era.

The CSP helps reinforce the controls protecting participants from cyberattack and ensures their effectivity and that they adhere to the current Swift security requirements.

*Swift does not certify, warrant, endorse or recommend any service provider listed in its directory and Swift customers are not required to use providers listed in the directory. 


Swift Customer Security Programme 

A new attestation must be submitted at least once a year between July and December, and also any time a change in architecture or compliance status occurs. Customer attestation and independent assessment of the CSCF v2023 version is now open and valid until 31 December 2023. July 2023 also marks the release of Swifts CSCF v2024 for early consultation, which is valid until 31 December 2024.   

Swift introduced the Customer Security Programme to promote cybersecurity amongst its customers with the core component of the CSP being the Customer Security Controls Framework (CSCF).​ Independent assessment has been introduced as a prerequisite for attestation to enhance the integrity, consistency, and accuracy of attestations. Each year, Swift releases an updated version of the CSCF that needs to be attested to with support of an independent assessment.  

The Attestation is a declaration of compliance with the Swift Customer Security Controls Policy and is submitted via the Swift KYC-SA tool. Dependent on the Swift Architecture used, the number of controls to be implemented vary; of which certain are mandatory, and others advisory.​ 

Further details on the Swift CSCF can be found on their website:

Our services 

Do you have arrangements in place to complete the independent assessment required to support the attestation?  

Zanders has experience with and can support the completion of an independent external assessment of your compliance to the Swift Customer Security Control Framework that can then be used to fully complete and sign-off the Swift attestation for this year.​  

With an extensive track record of designing and deploying bank integrations, our intricate knowledge of treasury systems across both IT architecture as well as business processes positions us well to be a trusted independent assessor. We draw on past projects and assessments to ask the right questions during the assessment phase, aligning our customers with the framework provided by Swift.  

The Swift attestation can also form part of a wider initiative to further optimise your banking landscape, whether that be increasing the use of Swift within your organisation, bank rationalization or improving your existing processes. The availability of your published attestation and its possible consultation with counterparties (upon request) helps equally in performing day-to-day risk management. 

Approach 

Planning 

We start with rigorous planning of the assessment project, developing a scope of work and planning resources accordingly. Our team of experts will work with clients to formulate an Impact Assessment based on the most recent version of the Swift Customer Security Controls Framework. 

Architecture Classification 

A key part of our support will be working with the client to formulate a comprehensive overview of the system architecture and identify the applicable controls dictated by the CSCF.  

Perform Assessment 

Using our wide-ranging experience, we will test the individual controls against specific scenarios designed to root out any weaknesses and document evidence of their compliance or where they can be improved.  

Independent Assessment Report 

Based on the evidence collected, we will prepare an Independent Assessment report which includes status of the compliance against individual controls, baselining them against the CSCF and recommendations for improvement areas within the system architecture.  

Post Assessment Activities 

Once completed, the Independent Assessment report will support you with the submission of the Attestation in line with the requirements of the CSCF version in force, which is required annually by Swift. In tandem, Zanders can deliver a plan for implementation of the recommendations within the report to ensure compliance with current and future years’ attestations. Swift expects controls compliance annually, together with the submission of the attestation by 31 December at the latest, in order to avoid being reported to your supervisor. Non-compliant status is visible to your counterparties. 

Do you need support with your Swift CSP Independent Assessment?  

We are thrilled to offer a Swift CSP Independent Assessment service and look forward to supporting our clients with their attestations, continuing their commitment to protecting the integrity of the Swift network, and in doing so supporting their businesses too. If you are interested in learning more about our services, please contact us directly.  

ESG-related derivatives: regulation & valuation

September 2022
7 min read

Insurance Treasury is evolving into Treasury 4.x, a forward-thinking paradigm integrating advanced technology and strategic foresight to enhance efficiency and resilience in the digital era.


The most popular financial instruments in this regard are sustainability-linked loans and bonds. But more recently, corporates also started to focus on ESG-related derivatives. In short, these derivatives provide corporates with a financial incentive to improve their ESG performance, for instance by linking it to a sustainable KPI. This article aims to provide some guidance on the impact of regulation around ESG-related derivatives.

As covered in our first ESG-related derivatives article, a broad spectrum of instruments is included in this asset class, the most innovative ones being emission trading derivatives, renewable energy and fuel derivatives, and sustainability-linked derivatives (SLDs).

Currently, market participants and regulatory bodies are assessing if, and how new types of derivatives fit into existing derivatives regulation. In this regard, European and UK regulators are at the forefront of the regulatory review to foster activity and ensure safety of financial markets. Since it’s especially challenging for market participants to comprehend the impact of these regulations and the valuation implications of SLDs, we aim to provide guidance to corporates on these matters, with a special focus on the implications for corporate treasury.

Categorization & classification

When issuing an SLD, it’s important to understand which category the respective SLD falls in. That is, whether the SLD incorporates KPIs and the impact of cashflows in the derivatives instrument (category 1), or if the KPIs and related cashflows are stated in a separate agreement, in which the underlying derivatives transaction is mentioned for setting the reference amount to compute the KPI-linked cashflow (category 2). This categorization makes it easier to understand the regulations applying to the SLD, and the implications of those regulations.

In general, a category 1 SLD will be classified as derivative under European and UK regulations, and swap under US regulations, if the underlying financial contract is already classified as such. The addition of KPI elements to the underlying financial instrument is unlikely to change that classification.

Whether a category 2 SLD is classified as a derivative or swap is somewhat more complicated. In Europe, this type of SLD is classified as a derivative if it falls within the MIFID II catch-all provision, which must be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Overall, instruments that are classified as derivatives in Europe will also be classified as such in the UK. But to elaborate, a category 2 SLD will classified as a derivative in the UK if the payments of the financial instrument vary based on fluctuations in the KPIs.

When a category 2 SLD is issued in the US, it will only be classified as a swap if KPI-linked payments within the financial agreement go in two directions. Even if that is the case, the SLD may still be eligible for the status as commercial agreement outside of swaps regulation, but that is specific to facts and circumstances.

Apart from the classification as derivative or swap, it is also helpful to determine whether an SLD could be considered a hedging contract, so that it is eligible for hedging exemptions. The requirements for this are similar in Europe, the UK, and the US. Generally, category 1 SLDs are considered hedging contracts if the underlying instruments still follow the purpose of hedging commercial risks, after the KPI is incorporated. Category 2 SLDs are normally issued to meet sustainability goals, instead of hedging purposes. Therefore, it is unlikely that this category of SLDs will be classified as hedging contracts.

Regulation & valuation implications

When issuing an SLD that is classified as a derivative or swap, there are several regulatory and valuation implications relevant to treasury. These implications can be split up in six types which we will now explain in more detail. The six types (risk management, reporting, disclosure, benchmark-related considerations, prudential requirements, and valuation) are similar for corporates across Europe, the UK, and the US, unless otherwise mentioned.

Risk management

As is the case for other derivatives and swaps, corporate treasuries must meet confirmation requirements, undertake portfolio reconciliation, and perform portfolio compression for SLDs. Additionally, regulated companies are required to construct effective risk procedures for risk management, which includes documenting all risks associated with KPI-linked cashflows. While these points might be business as usual, it must also be determined if and how KPI-linked cashflows should be modeled for valuation obligations that apply to derivatives and swaps. For instance, initial margin models might need to be adjusted for SLDs, so they capture KPI-linked risks accurately.

Reporting

Corporate treasuries must report SLDs to trade repositories in Europe and the UK, and to swap data repositories in the US. Since these repositories require companies to report in line with prescriptive frameworks that do not specifically cover SLDs, it should be considered how to report KPI-linked features. As this is currently not clearly defined, issuers of SLDs are advised to discuss the establishment of clear reporting guidelines for this financial instrument with regulators and repositories. A good starting point for this could be the mark-to-market or mark-to-model valuation part of the EMIR reporting regulations.

Disclosure

Only Treasuries of European financial entities will be involved in meeting disclosure requirements of SLDs, as the legislation in the UK and US is behind on Europe in this respect, and non-financial market participants are not as strictly regulated. From January 2023, the second phase of the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) will be in place, which requires financial companies to report periodically, and provide pre-contractual disclosures on SLDs. Treasuries of investment firms and portfolio managers are ought to contribute to this by reporting on sustainability-related impact of the SLDs compared to the impact of reference index and broad market index with sustainability indicators. In addition, they could leverage their knowledge of financial instruments to evaluate the probable impacts of sustainability risks on the returns of the SLDs.

Benchmark-related implications

In case the KPI of an SLD references or includes an index, it could be defined as a benchmark under European and UK legislation. In such cases, treasuries are advised to follow the same policy they have in place for benchmarks incorporated in other brown derivatives. Specific benchmark regulations in the US are currently non-existent, however, many US benchmark administrators maintain policies in compliance with the same principles as where the European and UK benchmark legislation is built on.
Prudential requirements

Since treasury departments of corporates around the world are required to calculate risk-weighted exposures for derivatives transactions as well as non-derivatives transactions, this is not different for SLDs. While there is currently little guidance on this for SLDs explicitly, that may change in the near future, as US prudential regulators are assessing the nature of the risk that is being assumed with in-scope market participants.

Valuation

The SLD market is still in its infancy, with SLD contracts being drawn up are often specific to the company issuing it, and therefore tailor made. The trading volume must go up, trade datasets are to be accurately maintained, and documentation should be standardized on a global scale for the market to reach transparency and efficiency. This will lead to the possibility of accurate pricing and reliable cashflow management of this financial instrument and increases the ability to hedge the ESG component.

To conclude

As aforementioned, the ESG-related derivatives market and the SLD market within it are still in the development phase. Therefore, regulations and their implications will evolve swiftly. However, the key points to consider for corporate treasury when issuing an SLD presented in this article can prove to be a good starting point for meeting regulatory requirements as well as developing accurate valuation methodology. This is important, since these derivatives transactions will be crucial for facilitating the lending, investment and debt issuance required to meet the ESG ambitions of Europe, the UK, and the US.

For more information on ESG issues, please contact Joris van den Beld or Sander van Tol.

A roadmap to becoming a data-driven organization

March 2022
3 min read

Everyone understands the importance of data in an organization. After all, data is the new oil in terms of its value to a corporate treasury and indeed the wider organization. However, not everyone is aware of how best to utilize data. This article will tell you.


Developing a data strategy depends on using the various types of payment, market, cashflow, bank and risk data available to a treasury, and then considering the time implications of past historical data, present and future models, to better inform decision-making. We provide a roadmap and ‘how to’ guide to becoming a data-driven organization.

Why does this aim matter? Well, in this age of digitization, almost every aspect of the business has a digital footprint. Some significantly more than the others. This presents a unique opportunity where potentially all information can be reliably processed to take tactical and strategic decisions from a position of knowledge. Good data can facilitate hedging, forecasting and other key corporate activities. Having said all that, care must also be taken to not drown in the data lake1 and become over-burdened with useless information. Take the example of Amazon in 2006 when it reported that cross-selling attributed for 35% of their revenue2. This strategy looked at data from shopping carts and recommended other items that may be of interest to the consumer. The uplift in sales was achieved only because Amazon made the best use of their data.

Treasury is no exception. It too can become data-driven thanks to its access to multiple functions and information flows. There are numerous ways to access and assess multiple sets of data (see Figure 1), thereby finding solutions to some of the perennial problems facing any organization that wants to mitigate or harness risk, study behavior, or optimize its finances and cashflow to better shape its future.

Time is money

The practical business use cases that can be realized by harnessing data in the Treasury often revolve around mastering the time function. Cash optimization, pooling for interest and so on often depend on a good understanding of time – even risk hedging strategies can depend on the seasons, for instance, if we’re talking about energy usage.

When we look at the same set of data from a time perspective, it can be used for three different purposes:
I.       Understand the ‘The Past’ – to determine what transpired,
II.     Ascertain ‘The Present’ situation,
III.   Predict ‘The Future’ based on probable scenarios and business projections.

I – The Past

“Study the past if you would define the future”

Confucius

quote

The data in an organization is the undeniable proof of what transpired in the past. This fact makes it ideal to perform analysis through Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), perform statistical analysis on bank wallet distribution & fee costs, and it can also help to find the root cause of any irregularities in the payments arena. Harnessing historical data can also positively impact hedging strategies.

II – The Present

“The future depends on what we do in the present”

M Gandhi

quote

Data when analyzed in real-time can keep stakeholders updated and more importantly provide a substantial basis for taking better informed tactical decisions. Things like exposure, limits & exceptions management, intra-day cash visibility or near real-time insight/access to global cash positions all benefit, as does payment statuses which are particularly important for day-to-day treasury operations.

III – The Future

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

Abraham Lincoln

quote

There are various areas where an organization would like to know how it would perform under changing conditions. Simulating outcomes and running future probable scenarios can help firms prepare better for the near and long-term future.

These forecast analyses broadly fall under two categories:

Historical data: assumes that history repeats itself. Predictive analytics on forecast models therefore deliver results.

Probabilistic modelling: this creates scenarios for the future based on the best available knowledge in the present.

Some of the more standard uses of forecasting capabilities include:

  • risk scenarios analysis,
  • sensitivity analysis,
  • stress testing,
  • analysis of tax implications on cash management structures across countries,
  • & collateral management based on predictive cash forecasting, adjusted for different currencies.

Working capital forecasting is also relevant, but has typically been a complex process. The predication accuracy can be improved by analyzing historical trends and business projections of variables like receivables, liabilities, payments, collections, sales, and so on. These can feed the forecasting algorithms. In conjunction with analysis of cash requirements in each business through studying the trends in key variables like balances, intercompany payments and receipts, variance between forecasts and actuals, this approach can lead to more accurate working capital management.

How to become a data-driven organization

“Data is a precious thing and will last longer than the systems themselves.”

Tim Berners-Lee

quote

There can be many uses of data. Some may not be linked directly to the workings of the treasury or may not even have immediate tangible benefits, although they might in the future for comparative purposes. That is why data is like a gold mine that is waiting to be explored. However, accessing it and making it usable is a challenging proposition. It needs a roadmap.

The most important thing that can be done in the beginning is to perform a gap analysis of the data ecosystem in an organization and to develop a data strategy, which would embed importance of data into the organization’s culture. This would then act as a catalyst for treasury and organizational transformation to reach the target state of being data-driven.

The below roadmap offers a path to corporates that want to consistently make the best use of one of their most critical and under-appreciated resources – namely, data.

We have seen examples like Amazon and countless others where organizations have become data- driven and are reaping the benefits. The same can be said about some of the best treasury departments we at Zanders have interacted with. They are already creating substantial value by analyzing and making the optimum use of their digital footprint. The best part is that they are still on their journey to find better uses of data and have never stopped innovating.

The only thing that one should be asking now is: “Do we have opportunities to look at our digital footprint and create value (like Amazon did), and how soon can we act on it?”

References:

  1. https://zandersgroup.com/en/latest-insights/data-analytics-for-treasury-dont-drown-in-the-data-lake/
  2. https://www.forbes.com/sites/chuckcohn/2015/05/15/a-beginners-guide-to-upselling-and-cross-selling/?sh=395a58042912

ESG-related derivatives: innovation or fad?

March 2022
3 min read

Everyone understands the importance of data in an organization. After all, data is the new oil in terms of its value to a corporate treasury and indeed the wider organization. However, not everyone is aware of how best to utilize data. This article will tell you.


Next to sustainable funding instruments, including both green and social, we also see that these KPI’s can be used for other financial instruments, such as ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) derivatives. These derivatives are a useful tool to further drive the corporate sustainability strategy or support meeting environmental targets.

Since the first sustainability-linked derivative was executed in 2019, market participants have entered into a variety of ESG-related derivatives and products. In this article we provide you with an overview of the different ESG derivatives. We will touch upon the regulatory and valuation implications of this relatively new derivative class in a subsequent article, which will be published later this year.

Types of ESG-related derivatives products

Driven by regulatory pressure and public scrutiny, corporates have been increasingly looking for ways to manage their sustainability footprint. As a result of a blooming ESG funding market, the role of derivatives to help meet sustainability goals has grown. ESG-related derivatives cover a broad spectrum of derivative products such as forwards, futures and swaps. Five types (see figure 1) of derivatives related to ESG can be identified; of which three are currently deemed most relevant from an ESG perspective.

The first category consists of traditional derivatives such as interest rate swaps or cross currency swaps that are linked to a sustainable funding instrument. The derivative as such does not contain a sustainability element.

Sustainability-linked derivatives

Sustainability-linked derivatives are agreements between two counterparties (let’s assume a bank and a corporate) which contain a commitment of the corporate counterparty to achieve specific sustainability performance targets. When the sustainability performance targets are met by the corporate during the lifetime of the derivative, a discount is applied by the bank to the hedging instrument. When the targets are not met, a premium is added. Usually, banks invest the premium they receive in sustainable projects or investments. Sustainability-linked derivative transactions are highly customizable and use tailor-made KPIs to determine sustainability goals. Sustainability-linked derivatives provide market participants with a financial incentive to improve their ESG performance. An example is Enel’s sustainability-linked cross currency swap, which was executed in July 2021 to hedge their USD/EUR exchange rate and interest rate exposures.

Emission trading derivatives

Other ESG-related derivatives support meeting sustainable business models and consist of trading carbon offsets, emission trading derivatives, and renewable energy and renewable fuels derivatives, amongst others. Contrary to sustainability-linked derivatives, the use of proceeds of ESG-related derivatives are allocated to specific ESG-related purposes. For example, emissions trading is a market-based approach to reduce pollution by setting a (geographical) limit on the amount of greenhouse gases that can be emitted. It consists of a limit or cap on pollution and tradable instruments that authorize holders to emit a specific quantity of the respective greenhouse gas. Market participants can trade derivatives based on emission allowances on exchanges or OTC markets as spots, forwards, futures and option contracts. The market consists of mandatory compliance schemes and voluntary emission reduction programs.

Renewable energy and fuel derivatives

Another type of ESG-related derivatives are renewable energy and renewable fuel hedging transactions, which are a valuable tool for market participants to hedge risks associated with fluctuations in renewable energy production. These ESG-related credit derivatives encourage more capital to be contributed to renewable energy projects. Examples are Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) futures, wind index futures and low carbon fuel standard futures.

ESG related credit derivatives

ESG-related CDS products can be used to manage the credit risk of a counterparty when financial results may be impacted by climate change or, more indirectly, if results are affected due to substitution of a specific product/service. An example of this could be in the airline industry where short-haul flights may be replaced by train travel. Popularity of ESG-related CDS products will probably increase with the rising perception that companies with high ESG ratings exhibit low credit risk.

Catastrophe and weather derivatives

Catastrophe and weather derivatives are insurance-like products as well. Both markets have existed for several decades and are used to hedge exposures to weather or natural disasters. Catastrophe derivatives are financial instruments that allow for transferral of natural disaster risk between market participants. These derivatives are traded on OTC markets and enable protection from enormous potential losses following from natural disasters such as earthquakes to be obtained. The World Bank has designed catastrophe swaps that support the transfer of risks related to natural disasters by emerging countries to capital markets. An example if this is the swap issued for the Philippines in 2017. Weather derivatives are financial instruments that derive their value from weather-related factors such as temperature and wind. There derivatives are used to mitigate risks associated with adverse or unexpected weather conditions and are most commonly used in the food and agriculture industry.

What’s old, what’s new and what’s next?

ESG-related credit derivatives would be best applied by organizations with credit exposures to certain industries and financial institutions. Despite the link to an environmental element, we do not consider catastrophe bonds and weather derivatives as a sustainability-linked derivative. Neither is it an innovative, new product that is applicable to corporates in various sectors.

Truly innovative products are sustainability-linked derivatives, voluntary emissions trading and renewable energy and fuel derivatives. These products strengthen a corporate’s commitment to meet sustainability targets or support investments in sustainable initiatives. A lack of sustainability regulation for derivatives raises the question to what extent these innovative products are sustainable on their own? An explicit incentive for financial institutions to execute ESG-related derivatives, such as a capital relief, is currently absent. This implies that any price advantage will be driven by supply and demand.

Corporate Treasury should ensure they consider the implications of using ESG-related derivatives that affect the cashflows of derivatives transactions. Examples of possible regulatory obligations consist of valuation requirements, dispute resolution and reporting requirements. Since ESG-related derivatives and products are here to stay, Zanders recommends that corporate treasurers closely monitor the added value of specific instruments, as well as the regulatory, tax and accounting implications. Part II of this series, later in the year, will focus on the regulatory and valuation implications of this relatively new derivative class.

For more information on ESG issues, please contact Sander van Tol.

Three major benefits of S/4 HANA Bank Account Management

September 2021
3 min read

Everyone understands the importance of data in an organization. After all, data is the new oil in terms of its value to a corporate treasury and indeed the wider organization. However, not everyone is aware of how best to utilize data. This article will tell you.


Bank accounts can now be created and maintained by the cash and banking responsible team, giving them more control over the timing of opening or closing of an account as well as expediting the overall process and limiting the number of users involved in the maintenance of the accounts.

Figure 1 – Launchpad BankApplications

The advantages of using the full version of BAM are multiple, but below we highlight three of the main reasons full BAM is a must have for the companies using one or multiple SAP environments.

Flexible workflows

Maintenance of bank account data can trigger workflows based on the organization’s requirements and the approval processes in place. With the workflows the segregation of duties can be enforced when maintaining a bank account.

Even though workflows are not a new functionality in S/4HANA, the fact that workflow templates are available and can be amended by defining preconditions, step sequences and recipients improves the approval process of bank accounts.

The workflows can be created and activated as completely new ones or based on the already existing templates . You can create a new workflow by copying an existing one and updating the parameters according to the new requirements.

All the requests to release or approve bank account changes are available as of S/4HANA 2020 in the My Inbox for Bank Accounts app, the dedicated inbox app where users can check the status of each request initiated by the users themselves or sent to them and act upon.

Easy data replication

One of the challenges multiple organizations have, especially those operating various SAP environments, is data synchronization and replication. We often come across situations when banks, house banks and bank accounts are not maintained in all relevant environments creating data inconsistencies and making processes more difficult than they already are.

One of the ways of avoiding these types of situations is by replicating banks, house banks and bank accounts from production to quality assurance and to development environments using standard Idocs.

Figure 2 – Bank data replication in S/4 HANA

If the organization is operating on multiple SAP and non-SAP instances and running processes in a S/4 HANA side-car solution, the challenge of maintaining banks, house banks and bank accounts grows exponentially. Distributing the data via Idocs will not only keep all the systems coordinated, it will also decrease the amount of manual work and avoid situations when processes fail because of delays in keeping the data up to date in all relevant environments.

Figure 3 -Bank data replication across multiple environments

Simple way of managing cash pools

Cash pooling structures can easily be set up by the user and in this way the BAM solution is integrated with the process of making cash management transfers.

Even though the cash pooling and cash concentration in S/4HANA are managed using five different apps (shown in the figure below), the actual structure of the cash pool is defined directly in the Manage Bank Accounts app (Cash Pool tab).

Figure 4 – Five apps to manage cash pooling and cash concentration in S/4HANA

In the Cash Pool tab, the user can define the cash pool structure as per each company’s requirements. It is important to keep in mind the fact that a bank account can be assigned only to two different cash pools: once as the header account of a cash pool, and once in a different cash pool, as a subaccount.

The cash pools created in the system are not restricted to one company code but can be defined using various currency accounts belonging to multiple company codes. For each of the bank accounts included in a cash pool, a target balance as well as a minimum transfer amount can be defined in the Cash Pool tab of the Manage Bank Accounts app, with the mention that both (target balance as well as minimum transfer amounts) must be defined in the bank account currency.

During the cash concentration process, when bank transfers are generated, the payment methods defined in this tab will be picked up. Therefore, if required, two different payment methods can be assigned; the first for the structure where the bank account is acting as a header account and the second for the one where the account in scope is a subaccount. To pick them up from the drop-down list, the assigned payment methods must be initially setup in the system.

To conclude

Maintaining banks, house banks and bank accounts can be a difficult task especially in large organizations operating with different SAP and non-SAP environments. It can be time-consuming; it can involve multiple people from different parts of the organization (IT, master data, cash and banking etc.) and it can easily be prone to errors and mismatches if not correctly maintained and synchronized. Having one single source of truth for the bank accounts – which is easy to maintain, user-friendly, with appropriate controls in place and reporting capabilities, easy to replicate the data across different environments and which allows the user to create and maintain not only the bank accounts but also the cash pool structures – can save time, resources and simplify processes.

Fintegral

is now part of Zanders

In a continued effort to ensure we offer our customers the very best in knowledge and skills, Zanders has acquired Fintegral.

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