Technology: Focus On Counterparty Risk, Private Clouds

AFP Exclusive

Global Finance sat down during the annual AFP conference in Washington in early November  with Paul Bramwell, SVP of treasury solutions, SunGard.

Global Finance: What are the key concerns emerging from this year’s conference?

Paul Bramwell: We are past the global financial crisis, when people constantly worried about access to credit. But there is a changing landscape of investment vehicles and regulations, so people are looking at where the cash is, how to use it, and how to manage counterparty risk.

GF: What do you see as the most interesting newest trends in treasury technology?

Bramwell: Whenever we talk to prospective clients, all of them are looking to the cloud, including private cloud hosting, as a way of removing their reliance on their internal IT infrastructure.

GF: What about mobile solutions?

Bramwell: Mobile was on everybody’s wish list for some time. But treasurers don’t necessarily want their people making payments and dealing foreign exchange from the train on the way home. What mobile is useful for is for deals approval, workflow. Also, there is a difference between an app and a web-based app. If you have an app on your smartphone and the data loads to it, then you have data residing on your device and that’s insecure. A web-based app that has a secure connection to a server that loads the information as you need and, when it drops the connection, unloads the data, so there is no information on the phone, is inherently more secure.

GF: Are Cybersecurity concerns high on the list for your clients?

Bramwell: I think they are lower now than they used to be. Companies have got over the hurdle of too much concern as people have become used to online banking. There is a host of security accreditations one can apply for, though there are always hackers trying to hack in. We go through all accreditations, do all sorts of testing to make sure that nobody can maliciously get in. But there is still a minority of clients that prefer to keep it all in house, or on a private cloud without exposure to the wider Internet.

GF: What regulatory reform is keeping treasurers awake at night?

Bramwell: The rollout of the Dodd-Frank financial reform in the US and the European Markets Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR) in Europe. Changes to the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), like IFRS 13 valuations to understand counterparty risk in companies’ derivatives position. The floating of money market fund [net asset values] and the question of what it means for a treasurer. Last year we had to address the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR), but we have gone past that hurdle as our clients successfully filed electronically.