NeuGroup members want simple but powerful improvements to banking services.
In a recent meeting of treasurers for high-growth companies, sponsored by Bank of the West BNP Paribas, representatives from the bank opened a session with a question: how can banks improve treasurers’ experience? While not directing their response to Bank of the West specifically but rather to banks generally, the answer, overwhelmingly, was clear: simplify the day-to-day experience.
- NeuGroup members outlined how banks can streamline basic authorization and documentation processes that corporates find overly clunky or time-consuming, which could reshape their overall experience.
Back to Basics. As banks continue to announce new initiatives with fintechs, some members expressed frustration that their highest priorities weren’t being addressed.
- One member suggested banks first work with corporates to figure out their priorities. “A lot of the announcements really don’t apply to a good number of us,” he said. “I think that’s one thing we struggle with, that there’s a lot of interesting stuff, but we can’t use it.”
- “Help us out with the nuts and bolts that all of us deal with here,” one member said. “Just get back to basics, that can go a long way.”
Portal to a new future. Though members find the goal of fully electronic bank account management (eBAM) unrealistic, one member proposed small but meaningful upgrades to banks’ online portals.
- “I have not seen a bank actually provide who they have as the account signers on the banking portal,” the member said. “Even something like that seems like a relatively easy thing to implement, but every one of us could benefit.”
- One member said providing that information would put the onus back on the corporate to update outdated information and provide the supporting legal documents.
- Another member shared similar issues getting in touch with banks on issues he thought could be solved by an improved online portal. “I can’t tell you the number of emails I’ve submitted over the last 10 years and had to chase down banks to get the simplest thing out there, like confirming a balance,” he said.
Documentation. A member described KYC documentation as a “horribly problematic” issue with banks and said an improved process “would be the biggest value add from a corporate treasury perspective.”
- “Don’t ever send a PDF that’s not editable and fillable,” one member said. “If I have to hand-write validation on a PDF, it’s ridiculous in this day and age. If every PDF is at least editable, all I have to do is print and sign it.”
- In another recent NeuGroup meeting, members also identified signatories as an area with “a lot of work left to do.”
- One member described “a very positive example” of a bank anticipating corporates’ needs in this area. Though the bank required wet signatures, it sent the member a pre-printed shipping label to return the document with ease.
- Another member has pivoted to digital signatures. “I don’t see that there’s a need to revert back and move away from e-signatures (after the pandemic),” the member said. “Our counterparties do what they need to ensure that they’re verifying and validating but I couldn’t imagine why we’d resort back to manual, printed documents.”
- But for a member who already largely uses e-signatures, there are still efficiency issues with the compatibility of different systems fitting into the company’s existing security protocols. “Most of our banking partners adopted e-signatures, so that made it a lot easier, but we use single-sign on,” he said. “So if there’s an application or a new system, that’s going to be the first hurdle: why aren’t we using single sign-on or multi-factor authentication?”
Authorizations. Members also found banks’ authorizations cumbersome, having to get approval for small tasks which build up, “consuming an inordinate amount of time for banks, the corporates and the auditors.”
- One member, a treasurer attempting to complete an audit process, found many hurdles prolonging the process. The member’s team reached out to a bank via email and was told the treasury team wasn’t authorized to “sign off on our own audits, we would have to go to the CFO and the board.”
- The member continued: “Banks need to educate their customers and proactively reach out and say ‘Here is your account base with us, this is what your auditors can do for confirmation, here is a template letter and here is a workflow on how to submit it.’”