Global TMS providers are stepping up to help treasurers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s how.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced corporate treasuries to manage liquidity and ensure the continuity of service while employees work from home. To get a sense of how treasury management system (TMS) providers are helping their customers address this unprecedented situation, Redbridge spoke to 15 European and U.S. treasury software providers between April 3 and April 10. We asked them how they are adapting their services and offerings to address current challenges and about what they anticipate the short- and medium-term consequences of this crisis would be on treasury operations.
Our survey highlighted the resilience of hosted TMS solutions, even though providers have had to quickly adapt and strengthen their service levels to help clients manage their liquidity and risk. Providers revealed that they have adopted a range of measures to support companies in a variety of ways since the start of the confinement. New practices include offering access to TMS versions with reduced functionality free of charge, discounts on implementation fees, and billing deferrals.
Activating business continuity plans
When the pandemic struck, companies activated their business continuity plans (BCPs). The sudden upheaval had a major impact on cash flow, the essential lifeblood of a company’s operations. “Fortunately, today’s technologies and solutions allow most treasurers to continue their activities, even when they are confined to their homes,” said Jérémy Cocqueel, director of channel sales Europe at FIS. Guillaume Douarre, senior account executive at Serrala, added, “companies that were best prepared are those that have embarked on projects to optimize and digitize their processes. This has allowed them to maintain a constant rate of activity despite the absence of certain staff.”
For Jérôme Brun, VP of strategic advisory at Kyriba, the difficulties encountered have been concentrated on companies “less well connected, who may have experienced a slowdown, or even halt, in systems availability due to insufficient bandwidth.” This is particularly the case for companies hosting their treasury systems on-site and, as Thierry Miskaoui, VP of strategy and operations at TreasuryXpress, observed “whose technical architecture does not allow remote access due to the absence of VPN, servers that may have been overloaded, slower connectivity, etc.”
Jérôme Brun also noted that cloud and SaaS cash management solutions seem to have passed the test of remote working because “clients with cloud solutions have been able to function normally.” For David Freulon, sales director at 3V Finance, TMS solutions “allow for remote access and are therefore conducive to the teleworking imposed by the crisis.” Alexandre Bromberg, sales director at Diapason, added that TMS services are “already based on secure and remote infrastructures, accessible outside corporate networks.” However, the suitability of their solutions did not prevent some providers from “reinforcing certain SaaS infrastructure to meet the demand,” as José Teixeira, senior market manager at Sage, noted. Sage had to “speed up its processes and show flexibility to enable its clients to migrate quickly to the cloud environment.”
An employee at 3V Finance reported, “Some of our clients have taken advantage of the crisis to use the web versions of our SaaS offering or accelerate the migration from their on-premises infrastructure to our private cloud.”
TMS providers are definitely well prepared to respond to this type of situation
Like the majority of companies in Europe and the U.S., TMS providers have had to adapt to the difficult situation to maintain the availability of their systems, customer support, and associated services at satisfactory levels. “We also had to activate our BCP to cope with the measures introduced by the government to combat the spread of COVID-19,” said Olivier Bastin, sales director at ACA. He added that his company’s “level of service is identical to that before they triggered the BCP.”
Jérôme Brun indicated that work-from-home mandates have had a limited impact because “teleworking is a common practice at Kyriba, whatever the function.” For Benjamin Knierim, sales director EMEA at Bellin, “the crisis has demonstrated that many services can be provided remotely.” This is particularly true for consulting services and the implementation of treasury systems, which have been carried out almost entirely remotely in recent weeks.
Managing liquidity is the highest priority for treasurers. As a result, Olivier Rathouis, executive sales manager at Finance Active, has seen an increased level of treasury systems use since mid-March, “particularly in terms of accessing market data, but also in the use of the numerous simulation tools such as, for example, on drawdowns of confirmed credit lines, stress tests, and the impact of banks activating covenants.” Alexandre Bromberg, chief product officer at Act Trader Technologies, emphasized that some clients, “aware of the strategic challenges associated with managing liquidity, are currently requesting us to implement the medium- and long-term cash forecasting modules.”
Some providers have had to adapt their solutions to meet new requests from their clients. Regarding the extension of debt maturities that banks have proposed to companies, Rathouis shared that Finance Active was “canvassed widely on the technicalities of putting this in place and of integrating the capabilities into our debt management modules” and has “initiated the necessary developments” to meet the need.
At the service of companies
The vast majority of the providers we spoke with indicated they have reinforced their support measures since the start of the crisis by extending opening hours, expanding and enhancing third-party maintenance contracts, broadening consulting services, expanding helplines, and making similar adjustments.
These measures often complement such commercial gestures as selling certain services at cost. Some providers even made their platforms available free of charge for a limited period – often for three to six months. These offers are mainly related to basic systems, where only certain functionalities are accessible (cash management, cash forecasting, financial instruments, etc.). They are also more prevalent among cloud solution providers, whose business model is more conducive to this type of commercial approach.
Lastly, some system providers are offering more flexibility on contractual commitments, such as delaying invoicing, providing financing options, or reducing contract lengths to one year or a few months (compared to the typical three years for cloud-based applications).