Treasury Practice

Rolling out next-generation authority management with CashPro

Published: Mar 2021

Identifying and maintaining authorized resolution and account signers is a common challenge for treasurers – but Bank of America’s new CashPro Assistant skill for authority management turns the traditional approach on its head. Jennifer Boussuge and Linda Haddad explain why the tool is needed, how it works, and how the launch is progressing so far.

Jennifer Boussuge, Global Head of Treasury Fulfilment Service Operations within Global Technology & Operations, Bank of America

Jennifer Boussuge

Global Head of Treasury Fulfilment Service Operations within Global Technology & Operations

Bank of America

Linda Haddad Global Product Head for CashPro Assistant

Linda Haddad

Global Product Head for CashPro Assistant

Bank of America

“Simple, secure, digital signer management is revolutionary for clients – and the bank,” says Jennifer Boussuge, Global Head of Treasury Fulfilment Service Operations within Global Technology & Operations at Bank of America. “Traditionally across the industry, the whole process is very difficult, very manual and very paper-based. It’s been that way for a long time, but we’ve created the solution.”

When companies open an account, they must inform banks who their authorised signers are for actions such as signing documents and cheques. Typically this is done using a paper signature card which is passed to the bank. The bank then scans it and adds it as an image onto a repository or database that can be accessed internally.

“Many clients have multiple accounts with us, with the same set of signers for every account,” Boussuge explains. “So if you have 100 accounts, a bank can request the same signature card, with the same signature samples, 100 times.”

With no means of automatic records synchronisation by the bank and by the company, challenges can arise when companies need to request signer details from the bank, for example when an audit is required. Traditionally, accessing this information from a bank can take days or even weeks – and when banks do provide signer information, it will often be inaccurate. In today’s global economy, the complexity can be all the greater when reviews encompass different regions.

Rethinking the process

To tackle these issues, Bank of America engaged interested client partners to design a new approach. The result: CashPro Assistant authority management, a new skill that will ultimately be available to all CashPro clients.

“We had been hearing feedback from clients and operations about the manual, paper-based aspect of signer management, and we decided to do something about it,” says Haddad. “We formed a cross-business team that included some of our key clients, with the objective of simplifying the tracking, modifying and reporting of signatory authorisations. CashPro Assistant authority Management is that re-imagined solution.”

Crucially, the new approach involves organising authority management not by account, but by signer. “Rather than having one signature card with a list of signers for each account, we said, ‘What if we create one signer profile per person, and then add and remove accounts that are assigned to that person?’” says Boussuge.

“Instead of one person providing their signature specimen ten times for ten different accounts, we can give that individual an authority profile card and then add or remove the ten accounts,” she explains. “The beauty of this approach is the signer only provides their required information and signature specimen once.” This approach also addresses privacy issues that can arise when using standard signature cards.

Digitising the process

Replacing an account-based process with a signer-based process is one part of the new approach. Another piece of the puzzle involves digitising the signature card process and storing signer profile cards not as PDF images, but as data.

“The next step is to make the data visible to our clients,” says Haddad. “Through CashPro Assistant, a client can now view their authority profiles we have on file, allowing them to essentially pull a report on all their signers with the click of a button, saving everyone days or possibly weeks.” She adds that when clients want to make a change, they are able to submit simple, digital requests to make changes to their data.

Looking further ahead, Bank of America plans to extend the concept beyond the parameters of signature cards to include other types of authority – such as the authority to submit phone wires, or the named contacts for failed payment files. Finally, the project will see clients being given full control over their data, with the ability to manage their own authority information in real-time and without the need for paper signature card documents to effect changes.

Progress so far

Bank of America first released CashPro Assistant authority management in March 2020. The EMEA rollout was completed last year and the bank’s focus is now on North America, with all clients in the US and Canada set to be added by the end of 2021. As such, in the coming months Bank of America will focus on launching the changes and the new skill. Looking further ahead, Latin America and Asia Pacific clients will benefit as well.

Boussuge says that feedback from clients has been very positive. “They love the entire concept and digital focus,” she says. “The transparency, control and ability to overcome challenges of manual signer management is revolutionary.””

Haddad agrees, citing the example of a large retail chain that has high staff turnover, and consequently makes frequent updates. “They were very excited about the idea no longer needing to complete signature cards manually, that they can do so in a digital way through CashPro Assistant and with eSigning,” she says. “Seeing and hearing how our services solve real-world problems is valuable feedback. It’s the reward we get when we use innovation to help our clients.”

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