Treasury teams have an unprecedented need to streamline their activities, given the growing demands on time and resources. The Global Treasurer spoke to Timo Hämäläinen, CFO at Analyste about the treasury solution provider’s drive to solve the major challenges the sector faces through technology.
Analyste, the rapidly growing cash management and treasury specialist, is well aware of the issues faced by today’s treasury teams. The well-documented requirement to do more than ever before with fewer resources, has led to an acute need to streamline and automate processes – something the ambitious firm has at the core of its activities.
Talking to Timo Hämäläinen, CFO at Analyste, it’s clear that the firm knows treasury inside out. “I’ve been working with treasury for close to 30 years, so I’ve seen the changes that have happened to the profession,” he says. “At the moment, I think the biggest challenge is that treasury departments are getting smaller and at the same time, the responsibility is getting wider. Technology is therefore required if they are to handle everything they need to.”
This itself can be a challenge for treasurers, according to Timo, who explains that a major problem when it comes to tech procurement is that treasurers aren’t professional buyers of technology.
“They often rely on their IT departments or sourcing departments, which can lead to the wrong decisions being made. For example, they may end up with a typical one-stop-shop type of solution from a single vendor, which isn’t always the most suitable solution. In some cases, it just doesn’t solve the real challenges of the evolving treasury function. Treasurers are having to become technology buyers and advisors, yet they are not experts. That leaves them in a tough position.”
When asked what the solution is, Timo says it’s about treasury taking control of their own destiny and focusing on what’s right for their needs – on a company by company, case by case basis – which increasingly means looking for experts in each respective area covered by treasury.
“If treasury is able to decide who they buy from, they can start to lean on experts in their respective areas. If you need a cash forecasting solution, then why not turn to a cash forecasting specialist? Surely that makes sense?
“The other point that’s vitally important here is that treasurers should look for solutions that are easy to implement and use. Treasuries don’t have the resources to implement solutions that are difficult to use. And the same goes with installing or implementing the solution. It needs to be easy and fast to implement, especially where there are lots of users within the organisation. Cash flow forecasting is a good example of a solution that may be treasury-led, but which can be used company-wide, in different countries where the organisation is established. Easy-to-use solutions tend to be used more too as they’re easier to embrace. If it’s difficult for business units to forecast their cash position, for example, the level of quality will drop dramatically and so will the usage.”
Timo continues: “The funny thing is that when I started in the Treasury in the mid ‘90s, improving cash flow forecasting was high on the agenda. It was one of the things that all corporations needed to do. Fast forward to 2019 and it’s still one of the biggest issues. Some organisations are still on the wrong track with it. My view is that this is happening because people rely on their treasury management system providers for solutions, or they rely on their ERP provider, neither of which are experts in cash flow forecasting. I believe that in most of the cases they have tried with the wrong partners and that’s why they have failed.”
Timo’s comments particularly resonate at a time when the treasury technology market is being disrupted by the rise of fintechs. However, finding new entrants to the market with the experience to truly understand and therefore help treasurers – like Analyste has – is rare.
The Finland-based company has a history that dates back to the ‘80s and payment transactions and the solutions around them have always been the core business. Part of Basware for 12 years between 2006 and 2018, Analyste once again became proudly independent in March 2018, when Basware divested its Cash Management business. Until August 2018, the CashForecast solution was white-labelled from Exidio’s Trezone, but soon after becoming independent, Analyste acquired Exidio in August 2018 in order to provide the full Trezone solution portfolio to its customers.
Today, the company focuses on solving the bread and butter challenges of treasury, helping to streamline treasury processes in organizations of all sizes and shapes. Alongside cash forecasting and management, the company focuses on risk management and trade finance.
“Our customers are really diverse and cover 13 countries,” explains Timo. “We have large multinational customers who are using our cash flow forecasting tools alongside smaller corporations who are building rapidly and need a quick, scalable solution.
“That’s the way future technology-led treasury solutions need to work – they have to be flexible enough to meet needs, whether you have a couple of hundred million Euros of turnover up to a few billion Euros.
“Because the Analyste solution is cloud-based and scalable, it’s equally suitable for companies that don’t have a treasury department as it is for those using it as an add-on to large bespoke systems. Our customers may operate in multiple countries, have a lot of bank accounts, use multiple ERP or other business systems, so their problem is how to collect data based in one place. Equally, we have customers who have one single ERP system, but they don’t have a view of their cash position and so on from a treasury perspective. Going forward, flexibility is going to be key to success – and that’s what we’re all about.”
This article was originally posted in the Global Treasurer's web page. You will find it here.