Photo of Benno Zentriegen and Stefan Windisch, Roche.
Founded in 1896, Switzerland-headquartered Roche is the world’s largest biotech company. It employs over 94,000 people across more than 100 countries. In 2018 it spent CHF11bn on R&D annually and posted group sales of CHF56.8bn. It is the world’s largest biotech company.
Although straight through and ERP integrated payment processing are established at Roche, many manual payments still need executing. The group’s treasury’s visibility over such manually processed payments depends heavily on manual communication between the local affiliate and the HQ.
A clear need for greater liquidity transparency to ensure more effective cash management, especially in times of negative interest, had arisen. Additionally, there was growing concern that attempts to execute fraudulent payments typically target manual payments processes, as they are associated with fewer controls or reviews.
Also, the risk for the entire group associated with allowing manual payments being executed through non-group tools and platforms needed to be mitigated.
Roche treasury developed and implemented an e-banking portal that is accessible via Roche’s intranet using latest authentication technology.
The tool allows payment requests to be created with the same information set as external online banking platforms require. The solution is connected to Roche’s in-house bank and accommodates ERP roles assigned to individual authorised employees.
The solution ensures payments pass through internal filtering and review processes and that the group’s liquidity outlook is updated before payment is triggered. Segregation of duties is processed according to group standards and can be controlled centrally.
Access rights are controlled via a standard workflow enrolment process without cumbersome paperwork; all that is needed technically is a Roche email account and the appropriate level. The solution offers greater flexibility and access is granted much faster versus any registration request through a commercial bank.
Overall, the hurdle to execute a payment manually has become higher, while the amount of duplication has decreased. More colleagues are involved in reviewing the underlying payment requests now, including payment specialists in the shared service centre, who are the only ones being allowed to create the payment instruction.
With this solution, Roche treasury has demonstrated its innovative mindset. The solution helps mitigate risk associated with manual payments and use of online banking portals, while increasing the transparency of both. The process is standardised for all entities and is centrally controlled, as is access by participants.
With this e-banking tool Roche has made the processing of manual payments bank independent, compliant and more secure.
The tool and process implementation created a new level of transparency and flexibility. Awareness across the organisation that manual payments are critical, risky and inefficient when online banking portals are used was achieved.
Implementation of the e-banking tool means individual account access to the commercial bank’s portals has been reduced by hundreds over the last year. More than 15% of the group entities decommissioned their access to banks completely, as the tool removed that need and turned those companies into bank-free affiliates.
The overall amount of manual payments was reduced, while a higher level of control and filtering were made possible. Duplications have been reduced and communication dependencies between local entities executing high volume manual payments and the cash management team in the HQ have been standardised and automated.
The manual payment process now involves the SSC’s, which has helped increase the efficiency of the after-payment processing and avoids the investigation of individual items executed outside the standard process.
Thanks to greater transparency in short-term cash needs, cash management has become more efficient and credit balance costs, in negative interest environments in particular, reduced.
The risk of unauthorised people having access to group bank accounts has been mitigated. Joint signaturing is controlled centrally while the ability to execute changes in authorisation levels has been improved versus what banks can offer.