Apac Treasurers Slowly Moving Away from Spreadsheets

Treasury management officials in the Asia Pacific region cite cash flow visibility and predictability as their top priority for the coming year, according to a survey conducted by Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofA Merrill) and SunGard.

The bank and the tech company partnered on the second
‘Asia Pacific Treasury Management Barometer Survey’
, which evidenced several distinct patterns among treasury officials in the Apac region

The survey found that about one in three treasury managers reported plans to use cloud-based or hosted treasury management solutions, which, according to SunGard senior vice president (SVP) of corporate liquidity sales Ash Khalek, suggests “treasurers recognise the role of these solutions to ‘leapfrog’ legacy technologies and achieve rapid implementation of a best-in-class treasury technology infrastructure.”

Among the other findings are that cross-border trade conducted by companies in the Apac region is increasing. According to the survey, 35% of treasurers said they are implementing results-based management to conduct cross-border trade, against only 16% who reported doing so in 2013.

In addition, 78% of corporations surveyed said that they conduct payments with three or more countries. Researchers also found that 41% of treasurers said they now use a mobile device, up from just 14% in 2013.

However, many of those surveyed in revealed an ongoing dependence on outdated tools, with 66% of treasury management officials reporting that they don’t use treasury tools to forecast cash flow. Instead, 69% of officials in both emerging and developed economies across the Apac region reported relying on spreadsheets to manage finances.

The survey suggests significant shortcomings within the workplace that prevent Apac companies from adequately managing their finances. Internal platforms, policies and procedures were cited as the reason so many treasury officials are unsatisfied with their cash flow visibility capabilities.

Cash flow visibility was named by 60% of enterprise treasury officials as their top priority for the next 12 to 24 months, above rationalising bank accounts, mitigating counterparty risk, or yield enhancement and interest expenses. However, only 14% expressed satisfaction with the tools available to gain visibility into and predict cash flow.

While the study concluded that a lack of internal support, namely a lack of adequate internal platforms, policies and procedures, are to blame for this dissatisfaction in cash flow forecasting capabilities, respondents are voicing a need for change. While just 7% already have cloud-based technology in place within their treasury operations, that figure is expected to reach 34% in the near future. More than half of those surveyed plan to boost their investment in treasury-focused technologies over the next 12 to 24 months.

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