Best in Class Treasury Solution in ASEAN Highly Commended: Asahi Beverages

Published: Apr 2022


Photo of Michael Ewison, Group Treasurer.

Michael Ewison

Group Treasurer

Asahi Beverages is one of the leading beverage companies in Australia and New Zealand. Asahi Beverages operates across Australia and New Zealand with three Business Divisions: Asahi Lifestyle Beverages (non-alcohol in Australia), Carlton & United Breweries (alcohol in Australia) and Asahi Beverages NZ (alcohol and non-alcohol in NZ). It has manufacturing plants in all Australian states and in New Zealand.

Asahi Beverages looks to the cloud for its ASEAN operations

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The challenge

The treasury team was limited by inefficient manual processes and a desktop-based treasury system. Performing daily cash flow calculations required access to five different banking portals, download bank statements from each, and then assemble the daily cash forecasts using spreadsheets. FX deal capture was an equally challenging process that involved myriad shared services addressing different components of deal settlement.

“The treasury team was pulling deal information out of our treasury tool and into spreadsheets to complete hedge accounting documentation and journals. Settlements, confirmations, and treasury reporting were also cumbersome and largely manual processes,” explains Michael Ewison, Group Treasurer.

The on-premises nature of the legacy treasury environment presented issues as well. On one occasion, the database ‘crashed’ and the internal IT team was unable to restore it. That incident spurred interest in moving to a more reliable cloud-based treasury system that could be implemented and administrated by an external provider. Given its existing challenges, Asahi Beverages needed to upgrade its treasury processes and streamline operations to automate cash forecasting, risk assessment, payment functionality, and banking interfaces. If they could achieve this, the company could eliminate the need for several time-intensive and manual treasury processes.

The solution would need to address a broad geographic footprint including the ASEAN region; international sales managed out of Australia included Cambodia, Vietnam, UAE, Singapore and Malaysia.

International sales for North America, the Philippines, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Pacific Islands, Ukraine and South Korea are managed out of New Zealand.

The solution

Asahi Beverages spearheaded a month-long initiative to expand its treasury and risk management system (TRMS) with its technology partner by introducing cloud functionality, automation, and API-based bank connectivity. For assistance with implementation, Asahi Beverages worked with an Australasia-based treasury consulting firm familiar with the new treasury platform.

Asahi Beverages structured the project to deliver improvements into two phases.

  • Phase one – focused on enhancing the existing treasury system implementation with new modules to increase the treasury team’s capabilities around risk. This included eliminating as much day-to-day manual work as possible by automating regular tasks such as monthly treasury journal preparation, reporting, and hedge accounting.
  • Phase two – then improved functionality by expanding usage of the cloud-based TRMS. Through this phase, Asahi Beverages automated workflows and treasury tasks, including treasury payments and cash forecasting. The company also eliminated manual efforts around EFT payment requests, deal tickets, and third-party settlement instructions.

“Importantly, our small treasury team was able to strengthen its control environment – enforcing robust system controls and clear segregation of duties,” says Ewison.

The TRMS technology also now links Asahi Beverages directly to banking portals and payment APIs, enabling instant access and functionality. The project included full documentation of all the new treasury processes that the Asahi Beverages team is leveraging moving forward.

Best practice and innovation

Rather than a team largely occupied with manual work, streamlined cloud-based workflows and the massive efficiencies they offer now empower Asahi Beverages with the full benefits of a strategic treasury.

This large-scale treasury modernisation endeavour enables the team to transition from a reactive treasury to a strategic treasury. The new cloud strategy has not only improved the efficiency of the treasury work they do but has improved the quality of the treasury team’s working day.

Key benefits

  • Time savings of two to three hours per day per person.
  • Increased automation.
  • Spreadsheets removed.
  • Manual tasks eliminated.
  • Strategic focus rather than transactional focus.
  • Risk mitigated.

The Adam Smith Awards Asia is the industry benchmark for best practice and innovation in corporate treasury. The 2021 awards attracted a record-breaking 497 nominations. To find out more please visit treasurytoday.com/adam-smith-awards-asia

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