Interview: TIS CEO and Ex-treasurer Sees Sunny Future in the Cloud

“I worked at SAP treasury for most of the noughties from 2003 up until I set up TIS in 2010, and was mainly responsible for building up the team. It truly became a value-added service centre to the business, which was SAP’s definition of a real treasury,” explains TIS CEO, Joerg Wiemer. “SAP believes that treasury should be a business partner to the chief financial officer (CFO), procurement employees, shareholders and everyone else, so they have a very board definition of treasury – as do I – and I have taken this approach into my new firm TIS.”

Necessarily, traditional cash management activities were not at the top of Wiemer’s agenda when he was employed as a treasurer at SAP. He believes that much of this activity can be automated, freeing up time for more value-added work such as foreign exchange (FX) or other kinds of hedging or risk work, which can proactively help the business. “During my time at SAP I was mainly focused on building up the team to align with SAP’s value-adding service definition of treasury. Cash management wasn’t my main focus. I also rolled out SAP’s Core Principles document covering how treasury operations should work,” he says.

Wiemer has taken this value-adding service philosophy into his new company TIS, which offers a cloud-based platform for managing corporate payments, liquidity and banking relations. This cloud platform sits in the middle between banks and corporates in the cloud, offering a low cost, more functionally rich shared service to its end users.

The CEO of Treasury Intelligence Solutions (TIS) believes that cloud computing Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings such as his firm’s are the future, allowing traditional cash management and payment tasks to be automated at a lesser cost via economies-of-scale savings, freeing up treasurers to do more interesting value-added work. It’s not enough to just process payments anymore: businesses also want to be able to track them dynamically; to ‘sweat’ the financial supply chain and investigate it for any risks; and keep a tight eye on liquidity, he maintains, while also asserting that TIS’ platform can do all of these things in the cloud.

“We are not a treasury management system (TMS) vendor,” adds Wiemer, “as we have a clear strategic focus on payments, liquidity and bank fee management: that is TIS’ raison d’etre. We sit in the middle between banks and corporates managing their payment connection points in the cloud. TMS’ do other things, but we stick stubbornly to our core mission. We have quite a few customers so far, in several different industries, including Fujitsu, Bosch Siemens Hausgeraete, Bearing Point, Dachser, OTS, as well as many small-to-medium sized business (SMB) customers, so our approach is working well.”

Cloud Computing Is Here Now and Is the Technology of the Future

Cloud computing and the SaaS operational and delivery model is the single biggest technology game-changer during my career, asserts Wiemer, insisting that “it is a more flexible, scalable, quicker-to-market and better model compared to the traditional software and hardware build-outs of old.

“Technology, such as the cloud, is helping treasurers to do more of the value-adding and risk-related work that is now expected of them and I believe this is a good thing. More automation and efficient straight-through processing (STP) can be achieved via SaaS and cloud-based solutions that can cut costs and increase reporting and control over cash positions,” says this ex-treasurer, who also believes that because the cloud is an on-going operational (opex) expense it is often easier to install than the capital (capex) expenditure of old build-out systems, which often came with expensive associated internal staff.

“It’s great to be independent of the IT team. In my experience they can slow you down in terms of servicing the CFO and other internal business units, which has to be the main priority of any treasurer,” he maintains. “It is all too easy to get involved in unnecessary turf wars over internal budget but, in reality, the IT department is a service centre just like the treasury – both should be focused on providing the best service they can to ‘front-end’ departments. Enlightened IT teams realise that TIS can help them introduce innovation or automation more quickly in the cloud and act accordingly.”

Standardisation and Interoperability

Wiemer admits that you need to have standardised processes and interoperable technology to get STP efficiencies and effective cloud solutions, but he thinks this is increasingly prevalent, adding that TIS works on SWIFT as an example of the trend. In addition, TIS offers the customer already existing direct connections to most banks and is continuously adding new bank connections. “Placing payments in the cloud and not having to have lots of separate proprietary tokens or passwords for standalone bank systems and electronic e-tools is what we’re all about, so I believe we are right on trend in this regard.

“It’s not good for transparency or compliance to have so many potentially vulnerable end points in existence,” he adds, before going on to point out that TIS is ISO certified for its security procedures, which should help to alleviate any fears about moving sensitive payment data into the cloud. TIS is also a SAP certified partner.

“Linking in to the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, especially for medium to large-sized corporates, is crucial in attaining efficiency so our status as a SAP partner and the ability to use our plug-in service are key attributes of the TIS platform.”

The ‘New Normal’ Environment Favours The Cloud

Wiemer was working in SAP’s treasury when the 2008 crash happened and he cites this as the other big game-changer during his career, alongside the rise of cloud technology. “Before Lehman Brothers and the 15 September 2008 the best way to streamline was to consolidate on one or two universal multinational banks, but this is no longer the case in the ‘new normal’ working environment in which treasurers operate these days,” he says. “Indeed, treasurers now have to think about counterparty and bank risk and to diversify their operations to some extent in the search for resiliency, while still seeking consolidated efficiencies.

“It’s a difficult balance to maintain,” says Wiemer, reflecting on the challenges facing his old treasurer colleagues, “but one thing is for sure and that is that diversifying a treasury’s bank partners means you need a cloud provider such as TIS to ensure effective oversight and control. Maintaining numerous standalone connections is not an option.”

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