In today's podcast, you will learn more about “Gratitude Infusion” and how you can make this a part of your leadership culture.
Mike Harbour and Kerry Wekelo discuss how you can make gratitude a successful process in the workplace, a few ways you can use gratitude to build your teams and finally how frequently should you be using gratitude as a tool.
Listen to the podcast here.
Actualize Consulting's Chad Wekelo and Priscila Nagalli, along with Christian Kochan of PVH Corp, discuss the benefits of rationalization in this TMANY Webinar. Learn how to re-evaluate all aspects of your Treasury operations, the underlying technology supporting it, processes, roles and responsibilities, and third-party services.
Watch the webinar here.
Paul Baram, Director, Actualize Consulting
“With the march of technology gathering pace, will traditional transaction banking still have a role to play in the longer-term future of treasury?”
Technology advances are undoubtedly key to the changes we see in how services that were once exclusively performed by a bank’s transaction banking division are increasingly available from other sources. Two examples beyond the broader list of fintechs in the market are illustrated below.
Trade finance is a great example of where the bank’s offering can be taken entirely in-house by a corporate to directly offer its customers trade finance solutions. In many respects this was always a better option than going through a third party (the bank). The corporate would already have collateral in terms of goods from the supplier and access to key data from that supplier such as payment history and trading pattern. Several treasury management systems (TMS) now have trade finance solutions as an additional module, and when integrated with the main cash management functionality allows a complete view of liquidity in one place.
As globalisation continues for corporates, so does the need for foreign exchange transactions. Although the banks still ultimately execute the trades (for the most part), today’s rise of dealing platforms means banks are forced to compete more acutely for business that used to come directly on a relationship basis. Again, technology advances, in this case via integration from TMS systems, means corporates are able to streamline a process and capture better pricing to such an extent that the savings from just a few months of transactions can recoup the project cost to implement.
In fact, to some extent, the vast technical infrastructure that most of the global transaction banks have developed is actually a disadvantage to their progress in this new world. The commitment to build systems to run at a massive scale with efficiency developed through siloed processes runs contra to the way smaller and nimbler fintechs are able to develop.
Extrapolating from this point leads us to conclude that the one-stop-shop model of traditional transaction banking cannot be the most cost-effective solution for a treasury. The key to exploiting these new options is to pick the right solution for each specific business process, as part of an overall treasury strategy rather than a set of individual disconnected choices. Investing in developing such a strategy for corporates takes expertise, time, and commitment. In that sense, one can see where for some corporates the traditional transaction banking model offered by one financial institution may still be of benefit for now.
This response and additional responses were originally published in Treasury Today. To read the full article, visit http://bit.ly/PLTrBk.
Our Treasury team of expert advisors will assess your current Treasury functions and deliver transformational solutions. Our strengths are our global experience, execution, modernization, and dedication to your success story.
Jason Blumstein, Senior Manager, Actualize Consulting
My 98-year old grandmother recently asked me what I do for work. She doesn’t know anything about technology or corporate finance, so I had to think about my response carefully and translate it in terms she would understand. Breaking my job down into a palatable reply, I said, “I’m hired by many companies to help them improve their processes and support them as they learn to adopt these improvements."
As simple as this answer was, I’m sure she still doesn’t fully understand my job. The truth is, my job can be very complicated, even to those in my network, because it depends on the needs of our clients. The longer answer is that I work for Actualize Consulting, a financial services consulting firm that has been around for over 17 years and has many specialties in the Mortgage and Fixed Income and Treasury space. I work in Treasury Management as a part of our Capital Markets team. Many of my projects have a central theme involving either selection, implementation or enhancement of a Treasury Management System (TMS).
As a team, we go in and analyze a client’s current operations across departments, and determine a plan to make sure it is best-in-class or establish a plan to get them there. We set up a plan and timeline that clearly outlines the steps needed to achieve and implement all best practices, setting Treasury departments up for success. Think of Actualize as an advisor, transforming your finance functions to accommodate the future and keeping you prepared for new advancements down the line. Lately, we’ve even been developing RPA solutions for clients and internal purposes.
Together, our team experience is our strength to help clients actualize their success story.
More specifically, some of my own accomplishments are:
• Incorporating Payment Factories that streamline AP payment processing and reconciliation
• Establishing In House Banking structures to facilitate optimized tax structures
• Creating documentation for auditors – including UAT test plans, process workflow and security review.
• Implementing new systems for FX trading/settlements
• Enhancing banking structures collaborating with your banking partners and modern technology
But in this reflection on the nature of my position, I realized the answer I gave my grandmother could be broken down even further. What do I do? I learn. I learn from the best in the industry, who work beside me at Actualize. I learn from my clients, who have turned into friends. I learn from my team, who have taught that innovation can only thrive in a supportive environment, and one willing to attempt to solve tough problems. I learn from the firm’s leadership, who set the example and intention to always be our best in how we show up each day.
I’d like to extend this reflection to you – either DM me or comment below:
Kerry Wekelo, COO, Actualize Consulting
Stress is a non-negotiable part of life. Recently, though, in the midst of the pandemic, it seems especially unavoidable. Life had to be adjusted to match our new reality, which included many new problems for our employees, like taking on the role of teachers for their children and caretakers for sick family members on top of a full-time job. According to a recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than half of adults in the U.S. believe the pandemic has negatively impacted their mental health. As a part of our annual September wellness program, I decided there was no better time to dedicate a week to combating stress – particularly, what to do when it strikes. The trick to overcoming stress comes in three parts: Accepting stress, identifying how you currently react to stress, and trying alternative, health-seeking behaviors to cope.
1. Accept Stress: We often think of stress as negative – which exorbitant amounts of it can be. But from a biological perspective, stress is important for survival. Our “fight or flight” response comes from the need to make quick decisions for life-threatening situations. While we hopefully never encounter a need to run from another mammal, this response does help us think on our toes and raises the stakes for us to do well on, say, a high-pressure work project. For this reason, we must accept stress for what it is; our body doing its job. We can simultaneously thank our sympathetic nervous system for doing its part and recognize that it isn’t beneficial to our overall health to worry about things we can’t control. I created a Mindful Minute Meditation as a tool for helping you accept what each day brings.
2. Identify Your Reaction to Stressful Situations: We all have existing coping mechanisms in place, whether we realize it or not! When the higher blood pressure hits, our body works hard and drains our immune system. Based on how our body and mood changes, we can easily pinpoint activities that may help ease anxiety. For example, do you become overexcited – angry, agitated, overly emotional? If so, do activities that quiet you down. If you become under excited – depressed, withdrawn, or spaced out, do things that are stimulating and energizing. Knowing this, are the habits you currently have beneficial in your times of panic? One of our team members mentioned they often snack when they are feeling overwhelmed, and has to make a conscious choice to focus on a coping mechanism that is more productive.
3. Find Alternative, Health-Seeking Solutions: There is no one-size fit all method to combatting stress – the best coping mechanism is the one that works best for you. Here are a few to try:
a. Breathing: Breathing is proven to lower blood pressure and relax your muscles. Paul Baram, Director of the Actualize UK office, has noted that his Apple Watch always pings him to take deep breaths and that he immediately feels relaxed once he follows the prompt. The great thing about breathing is that it is quick, easy, and effective, so often one deep breath will do the trick.
b. Journaling: Some on our team cited journaling as a practice that helps to get the jitters out – Maddie Yaskowski, Senior Consultant, notes, “when I write down my worries, I am able to shift the perspective and see that I am often making the stakes higher than they actually are.”
c. Getting Some Exercise: Stepping away from the task at hand to do some quick exercises will bring a fresh perspective and give you a wave of endorphins that encourage a state of overall wellbeing. Theresa Santoro, Actualize Director of Human Resources and Operations, often plays field hockey, one of her passions, in times of stress.
d. Avoiding Caffeine: Did you know high doses of caffeine are proven to induce anxiety, especially in individuals who already have anxiety disorders? Small doses are fine, but if you find yourself feeling anxious, caffeine might be the culprit.
How do you handle stress? Have you found a coping mechanism that works well for you?
Kunle Aladewolu, Manager, Actualize Consulting
The pandemic has changed the landscape of the current market environment, highlighting key issues within the traditional approach to treasury management. Many businesses are still in the process of reevaluating daily operations, trying to find a balance to manage their Treasury going forward. This webinar discusses the present landscape and offers solutions to remote treasury problems, setting you up for future success and helping mitigate repetitive, manual tasks.
Hosted by Actualize Consulting's Kunle Aladewolu and Bellin's Lena Pennington, can now be viewed here
Chad Wekelo, CPA, CFA, of Actualize Consulting, Nadia Corbett of Kantox, and Craig Jeffery of Strategic Treasurer discuss the immediate and ongoing impact of the pandemic and Treasury’s recovery efforts. Data collected from 14 surveys are examined.
In response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, the Treasury Coalition formed to assist treasury and finance professionals in examining the impact the industry.
Through weekly, biweekly, and now monthly surveys, data has been collected, analyzed, and distributed for the good of the industry. Specifically, the survey looked to gather concerns, response plans, and monitor economic preparations and impact changes throughout the pandemic life cycle.
This webinar will review the results to date, dive into cross cuts of the data, and discuss what organizations can do as we recover.
Watch the webinar here
Theresa Santoro - Director of Operations & Human Resources, Actualize Consulting
At Actualize, our consultants are trusted advisors, always using a sharp eye to identify clear areas for improvement for our clients. Since continuous improvement is always top of mind for everyone on the Actualize team, it occurred to me that they would be the best people to gather in small group meetings with our partners and operations team. Their perspectives help our people grow, thrive, and accelerate the betterment of ourselves and our clients. Engaging trained, critical lens to help you assess your current operations, identify process improving transformations, and inspire your team can help you accommodate and plan for an easier tomorrow.
We start conversations from a place of gratitude by identifying what works and what our people are passionate about. It was fascinating to hear from our leaders. What trusted advisors do you seek advice from?
Director Geran Combs, Mortgage and Fixed Income Practice
Whenever we are able to help clients automate and improve existing processes, it’s incredibly rewarding. Companies of all sizes benefit from an outside perspective. For example, anytime there is a need to integrate systems, a data mapping exercise is essential to understand how the systems communicate. Companies are accustomed to dedicating considerable resources to map the data from the two systems and then repeat the same function again once a new system is introduced. This is a repetitive and unnecessary translation; instead, we advise our clients to map to the MISMO model. This standardized MISMO view can then be easily consumed by the other company in minutes, assuming both companies communicate in MISMO. This switch saves money, time, and reduces operational dependencies while increasing data quality across the systems.
Director Priscila Nagalli, CFA, CTP, Capital Markets and Treasury Practice
It is so rewarding to help our clients achieve the most effective and efficient Treasury operations. My background is in Investment and Corporate Treasury, so I know the time constraints that exist simply to keep operations running smoothly. As an advisor, I have the opportunity to review the current Treasury functions and devise a plan on how each function can be performed more efficiently through process redesign and better utilization of technology. After reviewing each department that interacts with Treasury, such as Accounting, FP&A, Accounts Payable, and Information Technology, we recommend a future state design and road map for execution. This process ensures that our clients are always actualizing their highest capacity.
Partner Matt Seu, Mortgage and Fixed Income Practice
Actualize Consulting's Mortgage and Fixed Income Practice has industry-leading expertise in identifying solutions and implementing technologies for our customers. When we combine that with our knowledge of MISMO, the language of digital mortgage integration, we are unparalleled. A large regional lender selected us to do an assessment of their document management needs and to implement a new solution. New technology providers quickly find us and want us to better understand their products so we can recommend them to our customers. It is incredibly meaningful for everyone on our team to see the positive changes our clients implement as a result of our consulting.
COO Kerry Wekelo, Culture Infusion Practice
At Actualize, we believe our success as an organization is due to our people-centric focus. For a firm to be successful, it should not only care about profit but also support its team’s wellness and happiness. Happy people produce great work – the equation is that simple! We use our first-hand experience of taking our attrition rates from 33% to less than 4% as a guide and case study to inspire your teams, strengthen team connection, and incorporate a wellness-focused balance. The Culture Infusion and Gratitude Infusion programs have been incredibly rewarding for me as an author and speaker. I love sharing the simple tools from our program with others and hearing how they make a real difference in how teams show up each day.
Manager, Brian Stitt, CTP, FP&A, Capital Markets and Treasury Practice
Actualize’s culture of putting people first is evident internally and drives our approach to how we work with clients. The most rewarding aspect of treasury advisory, in addition to helping teams transform Capital Markets functions, is having meaningful impacts on the lives of our clients. Ultimately, we are here to help others address and resolve challenges. When we can remove obstacles to free up a client’s time to focus on the activities they are passionate about, we add value to the individual and the organization. When we see our clients identify and begin to build on their strengths, the Treasury and Capital Markets teams can truly elevate their positions in the enterprise.
We have seen the value a third-party can bring to analyzing and enhancing existing operations, especially those commonplace procedures that tend to be overlooked. Our niche practices offer expertise and guidance to make the most of your business while automating and providing for an easier tomorrow.
Our advisors assess the current state of your financial functions and provide future state transformation. Our strength is our global experience, execution, modernization, and dedication to your success story. To learn more about us, please visit our website at https://www.actualizeconsulting.com/.
TMS HEALTH CHECKS: HELPING YOU ACTUALIZE A BEST-IN-CLASS TREASURY TEAM
Priscila Nagalli, CFA, CTP, Director of Capital Markets and Treasury
How much time and resources has your firm planned to invest (or already invested) in your Treasury Operations and Technology? Will you be able to make the full extent of your initial vision a reality, achieving the streamlined processes, automation and enhanced analytics desired without any outside help? Unfortunately, more often than not we find that the answer is an unequivocal no. So, what are the key factors preventing companies from obtaining more value from their people and tools?
In the video below, we explore how TMS Health Checks can help you actualize your vision for a best-in-class Treasury team. Think of a TMS Health Check just as you would a visit to the doctor when you are sick; we will help you identify the key issues facing your current processes and prescribe a treatment plan to get your operations up, running, and adaptable for the future.
TMS Health Checks on YouTube
Key Tips from the Video:
As the video explains, here are some signs your organization should consider getting a health check:
For optimal Treasury Operations, processes need to be simple, scalable, consistent and have minimal manual intervention. We will:
1. Document the current state and highlight the inefficiencies, helping to discuss and select alternatives.
2. Prioritize based on risk mitigation, time for execution, and resources required.
3. Create a matrix with the plan to communicate with management and get the necessary approval.
4. Help your organization understand the options available and create a plan to move forward. Some tasks can likely be done within a couple of weeks with the existing system users, and some may take a month or more and involve external teams.
What are some areas in which you think you could be using technology more efficiently?
Our Treasury team of expert advisors will assess your current Treasury functions and deliver transformational solutions. Our strengths are our global experience, execution, modernization, and dedication to your success story. If you have any questions, please reach out to me.
In this article, Top 12 AI Use Cases: Artificial Intelligence in FinTech, author Claudio Butticé writes, “The most advanced programs such as the ones employed by Actualize Consulting will use business trends to pull valuable insights, optimize business models, and forecast a company’s activity.” https://bit.ly/2X8nozF
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