Keeping authority profile records for accounts up to date is a similarly inefficient process for both banks and organisations. “Many of our clients do not have a centralised location for accessing this information,” explains Linda Haddad, the bank’s Global Product Head for CashPro Assistant. “It’s difficult for clients to determine their total bank account population, let alone who has which authorisation on those accounts.”
Compounding the challenge, treasury teams don’t always remember to keep their banks informed about changes to their authorised signers – as Boussuge points out, “the question of who is authorised is very much a part of a client’s own process and policies. Inevitably the bank can become a second thought, which means we get out of sync very quickly.”
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 a pool of clients to help 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 thought, ‘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 now give that individual an authority profile card and then add or remove the ten accounts. The beauty of this solution is the signer only provides their required information and signature specimen once.”
As well as being more efficient than traditional methods, a signer-based approach also addresses privacy issues that can arise when using standard signature cards. “If you pass a signature card within your company to collect signer information and signature specimens, everyone who is on that signature card will see each other’s potentially private information,” says Boussuge.
When authority profiles are organised by signer and stored in an accessible database, individual signers can give the bank their details without sharing them across multiple channels and people.
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 authority profile card then becomes a data collection device synced through CashPro,” says Boussuge. “The data is stored on a centralised, secure database, which allows us to grant access to necessary teams within the bank, enabling access to a single set of data.”
For example, this means that when a signature needs to be verified, a bank employee can pull the specific information from the database – and the bank can control the details users are entitled to view, protecting potentially sensitive information, such as a driving license.
“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.
As Haddad explains, the ability to connect the client-facing and back-end applications is key to the development and success of the solution. “Often, bank portals aren’t connected to the back-end operation,” she says. “The portal may be great for the client to interact with, but it stops there – and at the back-end, the bank is still operating in the traditional way using paper.”
Bank of America’s approach, conversely, involves directly linking the back-end and client-facing applications, while digitising both of these components. “This means that when the client sends a request to add an authority profile, it is auto-cased and completed often without delay,” says Haddad. “The client can see it in CashPro Assistant at the same time.” She explains that this integrated approach makes the solution scalable for the future, as well as reducing both the need for manual processes and the risk of error.