Executive View: Lillian Sim, J.P. Morgan Payments

Published: Mar 2024
Sinagpore city skyline at dusk

Modernising treasury in APAC

Lillian Sim from J.P. Morgan Payments in Asia Pacific discusses the challenges presented by today’s operating environment, and explains how treasurers can use technologies such as AI and APIs to improve risk management and make more strategic decisions.

Lillian Sim, Managing Director and Head of Sales for Corporate and eCommerce Sales, J.P. Morgan

Lillian Sim

Managing Director and Head of Sales for Corporate and eCommerce Sales
J.P. Morgan logo

Could you give me an overview of your current role?

I have spent my whole career in banking, working my way up to my current role as Managing Director and Head of Sales for Corporate and eCommerce Sales for J.P. Morgan Payments in Asia Pacific. Based in Singapore, I am responsible for the business results and the end-to-end corporate sales strategy in APAC, driving client momentum for APAC-headquartered large corporates in their local and international portfolios.

The region is a huge draw for multinational companies, so my team and I also support global companies from North America, EMEA and LATAM that are operating in the region. We offer full service to all our clients, and work closely with our Payments and Corporate Banking teams to support client needs across core cash management, liquidity management, foreign exchange, trade finance and merchant services.

Throughout my career I have had a passion for diversity initiatives, and I drive this agenda through my sponsorship of J.P. Morgan’s ‘Women on the Move’ network in the region and J.P. Morgan’s ‘Next Gen’ network in Singapore. My job is always interesting, but having the opportunity to bring your passion into your day-to-day business really takes it to the next level.

How would you describe the landscape for corporate treasurers in 2024? How much has changed in the last year?

Last year was very active for corporate treasurers. Interest rates continued to rise across the US, Europe, and several Asian economies in response to inflation, while rates in countries such as China and Japan remained stable. At the same time, APAC saw new developments in cross-border payment rails, such as the UPI-PayNow linkage. Of course, we can’t talk about 2023 without mentioning the arrival of Generative AI to the mainstream, which was the true ‘hot topic’ of the year.

Our clients indicated that their top three key priorities in 2023 were working capital optimisation, treasury innovation and liquidity management. With the evolving macro-environment and uncertainties in the market, I also expect to see a greater focus on treasury resiliency this year, in addition to the themes from 2023.

What sort of challenges will your clients be focusing on this year? Which trends should they be monitoring?

We expect 2024 to be another year of rapid change in the operating environment for our clients, coupled with continuing uncertainty in the economic outlook. Working capital needs will continue to heighten, given the interest rate environment, and may be compounded by the impact of various geopolitical situations on supply chains.

The focus on centralising and extracting liquidity where possible will be ever-more critical to support more efficient ways of funding and investing for corporates. Supply chain financing needs for suppliers and customers will also continue to be a focus.

In addition to this, other key trends that we see having an impact include cybersecurity and fraud risk, alongside a desire to further understand ESG disclosure rules. Artificial Intelligence (AI) also continues to spark the imagination of the payments world. In the coming months, we expect to see more applications of AI in simplifying the treasurer’s common challenges – such as reconciliation, gaining visibility over balances, and conversational AI.

Last but not least, continued advances in technology will bring a strong case for businesses to modernise their treasury operations.

To what extent will treasurers be looking to harness new opportunities in technology?

There is an increased focus on leveraging more technology in strategic decision-making, risk management, and creating higher value within treasury operations:

  • Increased automation in treasury and finance processes remains a focus, as treasurers look to improve efficiency with more digital solutions.

  • Real-time information with technology like APIs will become the norm going forward. This will increasingly enable a more real-time treasury. Treasurers will be better able to make rapid decisions, pinpoint where their cash is, and decide how to deploy cash effectively.

  • Technologies like machine learning and Generative AI will be leveraged to further enhance risk management and strategic decision-making, using tools like cash flow forecasting which J.P. Morgan solutions support.

How will J.P. Morgan Payments support its corporate clients in the next 12 months?

In APAC, J.P. Morgan Payments works closely with clients from around the world and across different industries, such as Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT), healthcare, energy, power, renewables, mining, aviation and automobile.

Whether the focus is on progressing into e-commerce, addressing varying regulatory requirements, accessing working capital or overcoming supply chain disruptions, we believe each client is unique. It is our responsibility to support our clients with data-driven insights, payments expertise, and elevated support in every aspect of their payments ecosystem. Our primary goal is to help our clients manage their payments better, faster and cheaper.

Meanwhile, our advisory approach and industry-tailored solutions allow clients to focus on growing their businesses while we help them navigate their complex payments, liquidity and working capital needs relevant to their industries.

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