Corporate representatives attending the Swift banking conference have told banks that they must develop a deeper insight into treasury back-office and IT processes if they wish to play a bigger role in the financial and physical supply chain.
The call for banks to show their appreciation of corporate requirements was delivered during Swift's inaugural corporate forum. While the treasurers in attendance accepted that banks could add benefit to the supply chain process, they laid out a number of stipulations that must be met first.
"Banks must understand our processes," said Walter Boileau, vice president and corporate treasurer, Sanmina-SCI, an electronics manufacturer. "Unless you get to know our back-office and our IT, you are making any technical issues our problem and we become the square peg to your round hole."
Boileau also demanded more end-end solutions rather than component products and suggested that treasury departments would prefer one-stop shop solutions, "as long as the pricing is competitive".
In other suggestions, Boileau added that treasurers were unwilling to act as test cases for banks' innovations. "Don't make the client the guinea pig, otherwise we are all at risk. We don't want to deal with problems that happen down the line. We want to be told up-front.
"And we need someone who is involved in the implementation from start to finish. If you follow all of these suggestions then there is a role for banks in the supply chain and corporates will react very quickly."
Boileau's comments were supported by Doug Gerstle, assistant treasurer at multinational Procter & Gamble who also stressed the importance of the back-office, especially in any treasury service offered by banks. "The back-office is just as important as the front-office."
He added that he was willing to outsource various elements of the supply chain to banks, provided that it did not impinge on his control of the process: "I can't afford an army of rocket scientists or economists so I am willing to go to the banks for certain things but I don't want any stewardship issues. If there are, then we just stop and I make this clear when I scorecard my banks."
Gerstle's final words of advice for corporates was to listen closely. "As a company that manufactures many health and beauty products we spend a lot of time listening to our customers. In fact, I know more about menstruation than anyone in this room. In this context I'm the customer, so listen to me and what I am trying to achieve and we can turn it into a joint business plan."