To achieve these aims, the treasury team has worked on a range of big projects that included building a new Asia shared services centre (SSC) in Shanghai, developing pioneering cross-border liquidity structures, creating an automated single platform solution for FX payments, driving greater working capital efficiency, centralising the transaction processing centre and more broadly helping the company thrive in a period of restructuring.
The work of the General Electric team is truly at the forefront of innovation through the use of market-leading solutions, logical execution and business ownership. The company’s new multi-faceted treasury structure also paves the way for a more robust, nimble, and agile treasury function to support the wider General Electric enterprise on an ongoing basis.
Another notable winning solution was that of Alibaba in the Harnessing the Power of Technology category. Much has been made of how many treasury operations in Asia still rely on spreadsheets to manage operations. But, with rapid business expansion, a complex treasury infrastructure, resource constraints and the need to be agile, Alibaba could no longer rely on such primitive technology.
The Alibaba treasury team therefore decided to develop a treasury management platform in-house. The treasury management intelligence (TMI) platform is a web-based treasury management solution which provides cash visibility, transaction based liquidity, investment and financing management systems, with standardised operation process controls in place and support for management decision-making.
Comprised of several key modules including a management dashboard, liquidity and cash forecasting, investments, financing, transaction and auto accounting and a mobile approval function, the solution is all-encompassing. Also, through offering multi-banking, automation, real time based data analytics, secure and reliable technical infrastructure, and a user-friendly interface, the solution perfectly fits the ever-changing needs of the treasury.
The One to Watch category aims to highlight those that may shape the future of treasury. Quite often these are at the cutting edge of innovation and highlight real ingenuity. This year was no different and Intel’s Asia treasury team based in Penang, Malaysia have created something very special.
Intel historically, for numerous reasons, had a low take-up of its early payment programme. The company, however, was sitting on large pools of liquidity earning low interest yield due to the market interest rate environment. Intel therefore wanted to implement a more flexible and attractive early payment solution that suppliers would want to participate in and which would generate higher returns on Intel’s excess cash without taking additional risks.
To achieve this the treasury has re-engineered its early payment discount programme. The key to this has been the use of an innovative digital marketplace that has enabled Intel to provide liquidity support to their supply chain whilst driving significant returns on excess capital without any credit risk.
The real significance of Intel’s early payment programme is in the results. Intel approved pilot suppliers’ bid for invoices at discount rates which were approved for payment early by Intel and still generated an average return several multiples higher than the heritage in-house programme during the first pilot launch.
Treasury is now much more than a back office processing centre. The function has become truly engaged in how the business operates and in facilitating further growth. The winning Best Foreign Exchange Solution from Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific perhaps highlights this best.
The airlines’ solution is all about giving Cathay Pacific’s customers choice when paying for bookings in a currency other than Hong Kong dollars, the airlines’ home currency. It saw Cathay Pacific review its existing global payments processes, which resulted in the implementation of cheque outsourcing and lockbox solutions across suitable geographies. This has enabled the treasury to automate the high volume of online currency conversions from its customers.
The project is part of a three-phase, multi-year deliverables roadmap to prioritise the implementation of solutions for treasury management enhancements, payment outsourcing and online payment card needs.
Pushing the boundaries
As these few short case studies highlight, winning an Adam Smith Award comes from challenging the status quo and pushing the limits of the treasury profession. But it can also come from pushing the limits of societal norms and breaking glass ceilings. This is epitomised by the 2016 Treasury Today Asia Woman of the Year, Sonam Donkar, Associate Director Head of Treasury at PepsiCo India.
Sonam is living proof of how perseverance, drive and passion can break down barriers and remove glass ceilings. Her journey has been a roller-coaster ride from growing up in difficult conditions to becoming a teacher at the tender age of 14 and graduating from the University of Delhi, despite facing real financial difficulties. She joined PepsiCo in May 2013 and in less than 18 months was promoted to Associate Director – Treasury Head where she has led numerous regional treasury initiatives and cross-functional projects to enhance efficiencies and improve visibility.
Professionally, Sonam has mentored trainees, management and summer interns and trained her young managers into well-rounded treasury professionals, nurturing potential candidates and ensuring they consistently exceed in their performance. Over two years, her team has been recognised with at least eight awards for their performance excellence.
Are you at the cutting edge?
The class of 2016 has set a high bar and we challenge you to do better. This is what the Adam Smith Awards are all about: recognising the creativity and ingenuity of the treasury community, and in doing so, inspiring treasurers (and their banking and technology partners) to think creatively and develop even better and more innovative solutions.
Treasury Today Asia will again be running the Adam Smith Awards Asia in 2017 and nominations open in mid-June this year. We look forward to receiving your submissions and seeing once again the very best the region has to offer.