As previously published on In Business Wisconsin May 1, 2013 issue
BY MELISSA FELLOWS
It’s no secret that the current economic environment has created many challenges for businesses. Limited resources have forced company executives to take on expanded roles. In some cases, this may include a heavier workload of financial administrative functions, such as managing companies’ cash-flow cycle, analyzing accounts receivable procedures, processing payables, engaging in information management, and ensuring that fraud risks are mitigated wherever possible. There has also been no shortage of regulatory change, which has the potential to affect all these functions and more.
As businesses work to adjust to the changing times, it is important not to overlook the resources provided by your financial institution. One resource that’s not always used to its fullest potential is the expertise of your financial institution’s treasury management specialist. You should expect specialists to work with your internal financial or treasury team, and rather than simply recommending financial products or services, they’ll evaluate your current situation and help generate ideas for process improvement. Then, depending on your organization’s needs, they may help you explore ways to improve cash flow and limit fraud exposure. Ultimately, treasury management specialists allow your leadership to devote more time and attention to generating income for your company.
That said, what exactly should you be looking for when selecting a treasury management specialist? First, you want to look for a professional who will facilitate your business banking relationship for the long term. Other key characteristics to look for include:
- A willingness to do their due diligence before making any recommendations. An effective treasury management specialist will look to understand prevailing trends in your industry segment, key aspirations and differentiators for your business, and details of your unique financial operations and protocols. They will want to know your staffing model, determine your technological capabilities, understand your account structure, and evaluate your fraud loss risk exposure. Their recommendations will need to take all of these considerations into account.
- A willingness to seek comprehensive solutions, not just short-term fixes. Once he or she has a fuller understanding of your business’s situation and goals, an effective treasury management specialist should be able to offer a host of integrated solutions that are tailored to your business’s unique needs. They may include automating and improving your payment and receivables processes, limiting reliance on paper checks (or at least better managing deposits and cleared check storage), improving general financial processing efficiencies, and correcting any potential exposure to fraud loss.
In addition to general financial and accounting knowhow, your treasury management professional should be just that – a professional. He or she needs to be responsive and respectful of you and your organization and needs to ensure that the financial products and services he or she recommends truly address your specific needs. In this ever-changing environment, the need for treasury management professionals has never been greater. Managing cash flow and profitability is critical, and partnering with your local treasury management specialist can provide an invaluable resource.
Melissa Fellows is vice president of commercial deposits and treasury management for Associated Bank.