First Class Bank Relationship Management Highly Commended: Omnicom Group

Published: Jul 2014


Photo of Gerard McGinnity, Omnicom Financial Services.


Not all groups are as decentralised and globally diverse as Omnicom. The company has demonstrated with this project that despite these constraints, it is still possible, with rigorous planning and execution, to manage and direct multiple autonomous entities, implement a centralised solution and avoid the redundancies and non-standard solutions that can result when many entities separately address the same problem.

Gerard McGinnity

Deputy Treasurer

Omnicom Group is a leading global advertising and marketing communications services company. It serves over 5,000 clients in more than 100 countries.

The challenge

In March 2013 Omnicom’s treasury set a key objective of having a single centralised solution for the migration of its 300 plus autonomous eurozone agencies to SEPA. An ambitious goal, given Omnicom’s decentralised operating environment, the multitude of accounting and payroll systems, the varying internal policies, practices and country legacy regulations and the number of banks involved.

As well as over 300 agencies, Omnicom had 16 banking partners in 13 different countries and more than 80 separate ERP/accounting and payroll systems.

The solution

“We put a dedicated project team together from treasury, IT and our financial institutions to design and manage the effort. The team’s first step was to draw up a detailed project plan,” explains Gerard McGinnity, Deputy Treasurer.

The plan encompassed:

  • Conducting a group-wide inventory of systems and outsourced services.
  • Securing strong senior executive buy-in to the project.
  • Achieving local responsibility through a network of ‘on the ground’ coordinators.
  • Creating a vibrant project community through the use of social technologies, primarily LinkedIn.
  • Creating a centre of excellence within Treasury and establishing a special purpose SEPA web portal as a resource, communications and control hub.
  • Rigorous project online reporting and tracking.

Multiple banks were involved in the design and rollout of the project. Among other benefits, this ensured the same consistent message was delivered to all its agencies.

Best practice and innovation

Not all groups are as decentralised and globally diverse as Omnicom. The company has demonstrated with this project that, despite these constraints, and with rigorous planning and execution, it is still possible to manage and direct multiple autonomous entities, to implement a centralised solution and avoid the wastage and non-standard solutions that can result when many entities separately tackle the same problem.

A unique feature of the solution was the company’s approach to fostering internal and external project communities. This created energy, engagement and a level of collaboration that contributed substantially to the ultimate success of the project.

In addition, by creating a centre of technical excellence, Omnicom’s treasury was able to provide significant support to its agencies. It was able to intervene on their behalf with system vendors and set up an internal file validation capability to perform payment file testing if bank file delivery channels were not ready.

“We also have the goodwill of our agencies thanks to the active support and assistance we gave them throughout the project,” concludes McGinnity.

Key benefits

The first benefit from the solution adopted was the early achievement of full SEPA compliance for all Omnicom’s agencies – all agency payment files have been in the PAIN XML standard format since October 2013.

“In addition, centrally managing our agencies’ transition to the new standard gave us the strategic opportunity to transform our payments infrastructure and provide a gateway to further cost savings and efficiency gains. We are currently designing a centralised payments solution for our SEPA agencies. Up to now our decentralised business model and proliferation of systems had been barriers to payment centralisation,” explains McGinnity.

The other significant benefit is the cross-over learnings Omnicom can apply elsewhere in the group. The company is building upon its experience with this migration project to roll-out a similar automated clearing house migration plan and centralised batch payment solution for Omnicom’s agencies across North America.

It is also now looking at ways in which it can centralise collections in the eurozone and looking to use its work on SEPA as a platform for HR to standardise payroll services.

The project has also yielded other benefits, including:

  • An improved communications infrastructure that can be leveraged for future projects.
  • A complete inventory of accounting and payroll systems across its agencies.
  • The upgrading or replacement of a number of agency systems.
  • Deeper understanding of individual payment processes.

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