Fides: Streamlining corporate treasury management

Fides CEO Alain Schmid explains the time-sinks plaguing corporate treasurers and how to avoid them


Fides Treasury Management aims to remove administrative obstacles for today’s corporate treasurers, giving them more time for important strategic work. CEO Alain Schmid walks European CEO through the perils of modern financial administration, detailing the common time-sinks and explaining how they can be avoided. For example, simply taking care of banking compliance management can take several full time employees – and the more banks a business is using, the more complex these tasks can become. The solution? Treasury management software that standardises and automates different banks’ processes, while also future-proofing against changing regulatory requirements.

European CEO: Are you working for your money, or is your money working for you? For today’s corporate treasurers, daily administrative obstacles often stand in the way of far more important strategic work. Fides Treasury Services offers the tools to sidestep those time-sinks. Its CEO Alain Schmid joins me now.

Alain, explain for me why simple multi-banking tasks can take so much time.

Alain Schmid: You might know that the Swiss people are full of train enthusiasts, so I would like to take that as an example for illustrating my answer.

Nowadays, passengers travelling from Zurich to Milan don’t have to change the train. But you know, it wasn’t always so. Passengers had to change trains at borders; their luggage had to be reloaded. Obviously this brought with it the risk of damaged or lost goods, and it also increased the travel time.

So, coming back to multi-banking: while some banks still do not operate electronically, most of the banks obviously do. But they have different standards, different channels in place.

In addition, all these internet banking tools have their own logic, and user administration is very complex. So all this adds to the complexities of a corporate treasurer’s day to day work.

European CEO: So how does Fides connect those different channels, those different networks, and how much time can you save?

Alain Schmid: It’s actually a very easy business case. We usually encounter situations where at least a whole FTE is spent just to gain cash visibility. Automation can reduce this time to a push of a button. Not to speak of the costly mistakes which might result out of human errors.

Just as a fast train transports passengers – very secure, very fast – from one place to another; Fides multi-banking services ensure that information between the bank and the corporates are transported in a very reliable, fast, and secure way.

European CEO: Regulatory compliance can also take up an enormous amount of time. How can you help with this?

Alain Schmid: I recently spoke to a CFO, and he told me that he needs two FTEs just to take care of banking compliance management. These days a corporate treasurer has to ensure compliance with various regulations all over the world. The more banks he’s working with, the more complex these tasks become.

So he has two possibilities. Either he’s doing it by himself, documenting all the kinds of different jobs or tasks and compliance standards, or he uses Fides services, which reduces the processes to actually one standard. So, a lot less to document, a lot more efficiency if you have to control these processes.

European CEO: And outsourcing this business need must also help with future-proofing against changes to regulation.

Alain Schmid: You know, technology in treasury changes very quickly. Also, the rules governing financial transactions, usually within a few years you see some changes.

So again, there are two possibilities for a treasurer to react. First, he can invest in his own IT infrastructure: he has to hire specialists, business people who are familiar with, for example, SWIFT rules. And last but not least he has to take care of all these technology tasks.

This is usually very costly, a lot of dependencies, so he usually chooses the second possibility, which is outsourcing the business to Fides, reducing dependencies, and being much more cost-effective than the first solution.

We see more than 70 percent of companies going for the second kind of solution.

European CEO: What other benefits does automation bring? You mentioned cutting down on manual errors earlier: give me some examples.

Alain Schmid: Fides multi-banking services releases the corporate treasurers from manual, IT, technology-related tasks, which don’t add value to his business. Fides also offers all kinds of value-added services, so increasing the pass-through rate for the corporate is quite an easy thing.

We also have to mention the negative interest rate environment these days. So you know, a few years ago, if you had too much cash on your account, it wasn’t that much of a mistake. Because you still earned money on your cash.

But these days, you might lose twice. First you lose because you might not be covering a debit balance, and secondly you have to pay on your excess cash.

European CEO: So what is the future of Fides’ multi-banking platform? What are the next challenges you’re going to be tackling?

Alain Schmid: It’s all about centralisation. And it’s actually not a new trend, it’s a trend which has been lasting for several years. So, you need scalable solutions in place to follow this trend. You can’t do it with just one regional solution. You really need a global solution: that’s where Fides comes in.

And then you have all these different digitalisation initiatives. I’m convinced that we will see some disruption, especially in the cash market, peer-to-peer business. And when I’m talking with my clients and potential clients, it’s usually the traditional values which stay absolutely core. So for example: knowing where your data is, data security. In professional businesses, these won’t change that fast.

European CEO: Alain, thank you very much.

Alain Schmid: Thank you; you’re welcome.