Best in Class Treasury Solution in India Highly Commended: Hindustan Unilever Ltd

Published: Jan 2024
Photo of Saurabh R Gupta, Citi and Payal Hindocha, Hindustan Unilever Ltd.

Photo of Saurabh R Gupta, Citi and Payal Hindocha, Hindustan Unilever Ltd.

Payal Hindocha

Senior Finance Manager, Treasury
Hindustan Unilever Ltd logo

Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) is India’s largest FMCG company with a market capitalisation of US$75bn. Its operations span 29 manufacturing locations, works with over 2,000 suppliers and reaches nine million retailers.

in partnership with

Citi logo

Swiss GTC helps with ambitious project to transform HUL treasury in India

The challenge

HUL’s treasury team manages net liquid funds of more than US$1bn with average daily investments of US$36m for four legal entities. It works with a multi-layered liquidity management structure involving daily investment activities with 20+ banks, fund houses and market brokers, five investment instruments, 22 bank accounts and exposure in 19 currencies. The process is complex with data distributed across transactional systems, disparate IT and ERP platforms of counterparties and non-uniform report formats received from different sources.

To cope with complex computations, reporting requirements and distributed data, the team deployed huge manpower including the use of outsourcing partners. The result was costly, onerous, error-prone, lacked an efficient audit trail, was manually intensive, with tight timelines pegged to financial market hours. There was a need for transformation that would bring about greater efficiency, real-time visibility of cash positions, enhanced working capital management and strengthened risk governance.

The solution

HUL’s treasury team worked together with Unilever’s Global Treasury Centre (GTC) in Switzerland leveraging strategic global and local partnerships with financial institutions and fintechs for an ambitious project of end-to-end automation; the first of its kind for any Unilever entity across the globe.

The team deployed an extensive suite of next generation solutions including an AI-enabled working capital management tool, Unilever’s core treasury management system (TMS), ERP connectors, API and data integration software together with best in class practices.

Laborious and complex processes of liquidity computations, counterparty exposure monitoring, multi-source data collation, fragmented market interactions and physical investment instructions are now fully automated and streamlined, generating more accurate liquidity positions. Automation has enabled tool-based data analysis, one-click bank account balance pull from multiple entities, automated computations, digital investment instructions enabled via approval workflows, no-touch accounting and customised reconciliation.

Migration from labour-intensive routines to automated processes has delivered savings of 1,200-man hours annually enabling reassignment of highly qualified staff to professionally rewarding tasks. “It’s a story of remarkable transformation driving excellence,” says Payal Hindocha, Senior Finance Manager, Treasury.

Best practice and innovation

HUL’s treasury has catalysed a transformative process harnessing cutting-edge technology and collective know-how of its entire fund management ecosystem. The company undertook a multi-faceted project of integrating diverse third-party platforms with Unilever’s core TMS resulting in highly streamlined and automated treasury operations. The low-cost innovative solution has delivered holistic cash management, enhanced control over liquidity, increased investment efficiency generating higher yields, real-time transaction visibility and reporting. There has been a marked shift from batch processes to real-time processing resulting in timely and accurate data availability to support informed decision making.

Synergistic amalgamation of treasury best practices and technology innovations are evidenced through the solution architecture that comprises:

  • Standardised bank connectivity using automated MT940, SWIFT and API-based solutions.

  • Automated data exchange for cash flows and centralised computation of liquidity position in CashForce, a cash forecasting and working capital management solution.

  • Fully automated asset allocation management report delivered in the mailbox using a technology service provider.

  • Centralised mutual fund investment execution capability through the Liquidice tool.

  • Microsoft’s power automate tool used for automation of recurring tasks, workflows and file synchronisation.

This solution is flexible and scalable providing replication opportunity across the company’s other treasury departments.

Key benefits

  • Cost savings.

  • Headcount savings.

  • Process efficiencies.

  • Return on investment (ROI).

  • Increased automation.

  • Risk mitigated.

  • Improved visibility.

  • Errors reduced.

  • Number of banking partners/bank accounts reduced.

  • Manual intervention reduced.

  • Increased system connectivity.

  • Future-proof solution.

  • Exceptional implementation (budget/time).

“Our core modus operandi has been identification and prioritisation of processes for simplification and digitisation, developing automated routines and implementing system linkages.”

Payal Hindocha, Senior Finance Manager, Treasury

Ganesh Balshetwar

Solution Sales, Treasury and Trade Solutions, Citi India

Simplification through digitisation has been a key goal for the HUL treasury team. To achieve this, the team set out to re-evaluate and digitise manual processes with minimum or no manual intervention and involvement. With Citi’s support, computation of liquidity positions was completely automated – including automated reports and an improved reporting process that resulted in greater efficiency, real-time visibility of cash positions, enhanced working capital management and strengthened risk governance. These efforts also strengthened HUL’s investment process, leading to incremental tangible return benefits.

in partnership with

Citi logo

The Adam Smith Awards Asia is the industry benchmark for best practice and innovation in corporate treasury. The 2023 awards attracted 450 nominations. To find out more please visit treasurytoday.com/adam-smith-awards-asia

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