Banks currently dominate the provision of treasury services for businesses in the United States, but they are beginning to face challenges to their long reign. Accenture conducted a survey of over 300 US businesses about their treasury functions and the findings in our new report, “Unlock the Treasury Management Treasure Chest,” will be of particular interest to banks and their CFOs.
Fintechs are offering competitive treasury services and businesses are taking note. Cost, ease of use and ease of integration are the primary reasons they would consider moving their treasury services to a fintech. Here is what our survey revealed:
- 60% of respondents are aware that fintechs offer treasury services that could reduce their reliance on their banks
- 44% have considered moving to a fintech provider in the past year
- Nearly 50% of businesses with less than $250 million in revenues considered switching
- 60% of businesses less than 20 years old are likely to move
In our current macroeconomic environment, however, banks have the stability, the strong balance sheets and the core banking capabilities to support customers facing cash management challenges and currency volatility. What customers appear to be looking for is the best of both worlds: the dependability of a bank and the convenience and cost advantages of a fintech.
Customer expectations have shifted
As consumer-facing financial tools have evolved to offer more real-time feedback, integration with platforms and ecosystems, and customization, businesses are expecting to see this evolution in their banking services as well. Although banks have offered a strong, effective treasury product in the past, that is no longer enough to stop businesses from looking for more cost-effective and flexible options.
A few important considerations are worth bearing in mind:
One size does not fit all: A range of tools and services will help businesses of different sizes and in different industries find the right fit for them. A treasury department with 20 staff members and sophisticated in-house systems will have different needs than a small business where a handful of people make up the entire finance department.
Real-time processes power decision-making: Nearly every leader we surveyed said it’s important that real-time processes and operations inform better business decisions. But only 16% of respondents said that more than 80% of their current finance processes and operations are real time. Getting that number up is a top priority for many businesses—44% of respondents expect more than 90% of their finance processes and operations to be real time within three years.
Customers use a variety of systems: Different customer preferences for back-end systems can create compatibility problems. Banks that offer omnichannel solutions that work with their bank portal, customers’ accounting systems, enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and treasury management system (TMS) will reduce complexity for their customers.
Banks have an opportunity to maintain their advantage in treasury services by leveraging fintech relationships and acquisitions to further solidify that advantage. There are new players in the game, and it’s up to banks to make their next move.
How can banks meet changing expectations?
Provide flexible options: Meet customers where they are. Some will want tools that integrate seamlessly with their internal systems. Others will be looking to their bank to provide a portal they can use for all their treasury management needs. Banks that can offer product configurations that are easy for businesses to use as they modernize and digitalize will be in a better position to keep them as customers.
Build an ecosystem of services: As they face growing competition for treasury customers, banks should play to their strengths by leveraging customer data to provide value-added services. According to our survey, customers particularly want real-time visibility into payables and receivables. Banks that also offer cash flow forecasting tools and advanced data analytics tools to allow companies to drive the maximum value from the available data will have an edge over the competition.
Transform pricing strategies: Fintechs are luring customers with the promise of lower costs than incumbent banks. With the vast majority of our survey respondents indicating that pricing structure and transparency are important to them, this is an issue that banks can’t ignore. Customers are looking for banks to consider their whole relationship when it comes to pricing. A transparent breakdown of pricing combined with offers for bundling or relationship discounts will appeal to customers. Highlighting the bank’s value-added services will also help customers to see what they’re getting for their money.
Put people first: In the digital age, banks cannot simply focus on technology and automation at the cost of human contact. Eight in 10 survey respondents cited a preference for human engagement when establishing new and maintaining existing treasury solutions. Banks that automate routine processes can free their employees to have more meaningful and constructive relationships with customers, offering business insights and support.
What might lie ahead for treasury management?
There’s no magic formula for banks to lead the pack in treasury services. It comes down to knowing and meeting customers’ needs and expectations. And it also means keeping on top of those needs and expectations as they inevitably change over time. Businesses will invest in new platforms and back-end systems, they will rely more on real-time data and analytics, and banks will have to keep pace with these shifts in order to hold on to those customers.
For most banks, providing tailored experiences, focusing on their platform of services, establishing ecosystem partnerships, optimizing pricing strategies and empowering client-facing talent will all be effective approaches to driving more treasury management business and ensuring that corporate customers are satisfied with their offerings.Read report