When face-to-face events aren’t an option, a virtual conference is the next best thing. That’s something that the Fides Community Conference 2020 – Virtual Edition registrants could all agree on.

The virtual event, held in lieu of the usual day-long conference, took place on September 15. More than 200 Fides customers and partners signed up for the 3-hour interactive webinar, which paired presentations with polls and Q&A. Conference sessions included a Fides business overview, a product roadmap and strategic outlook update, and guest presenters from EY and Credit Suisse.

Fides Business & Product Updates

CEO Andreas Lutz focused on the company’s many achievements in 2020, including being named Best Performing Multi-Banking Solutions Provider for 2020 by The European. He talked about the business changes Fides has made — such as restructuring and consolidating departments — to better meet client needs. And he stressed that global business challenges presented by the pandemic are also opportunities to change the way we work, and the way we communicate.

The numbers are particularly impressive in the light of those challenges. With 134 client projects started year-to-date, and a 45 percent increase in payment initiations, the company is on track to exceed both expectations and 2019 results. In addition, while the customer support team has processed more than 25K client requests, that number is holding steady from last year despite the increase in clients and projects — a sign, Lutz said, that product enhancements and increased self-service functionality are reducing customers’ need for support.

He also talked about the need for finance professionals to stay relevant in a changing world, which means understanding legal and regulatory compliance requirements, and taking a lead role in strategy and treasury technology. While APIs are on the rise, the pace is still slow, he said, predicting that multibank connectivity will remain complex, further driving the need to streamline via automation.

Lutz closed the business update by promising that Fides will continue to find new ways to support its clients, including rolling out a new financial partner ecosystem to drive real, end-to-end processing and offer new solutions to meet customers’ needs in areas including FX, money markets, and liquidity.

Next, Rod Gabriel, head of products and services, talked about Fides’ short-term and long-term product strategy and customer-first approach, with a focus on innovation, security, product enhancements and scalability. He delved into the top challenges faced by corporate treasury professionals, such as fraud, liquidity management, and the geopolitical environment, and talked about some of the ways that Fides plans to help customers address these challenges today and in future.

EY Talks Corporate Treasury in the Time of COVID

Guest speaker Roger Disch, Partner/Principal with EY Global Treasury Services, Switzerland, presented on corporate treasury in the time of COVID — and what to consider for the future. Roger led with the premise that the world is suffering from VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity), driven by economic, financial, operational and business risks, but now more than ever, cash is king – and that Treasury is pivotal to lead through the pandemic and more so beyond. As he put it, “Cash and liquidity management should be in the DNA of every organization.”

Disch also shared data from EY’s Global Risk Survey where almost 80% of the Board members mentioned not be sufficiently prepared for crisis situations, along with a 12-step checklist to help organizations rapidly stabilize their cashflow within a mere two weeks. He said that treasury has the power to identify and diminish any risk or exposure, provided it is caught early enough, and stressed the need for proactive communication to mitigate risk, recommending treasurers engage with their counterparts in a company such as procurement/sales, tax and the businesses per se. “We need to position treasury as an in-house consultant to C-level and the board,” he said. “That’s the empowerment of treasury.”

Credit Suisse Global Markets Outlook

The closing guest speaker was Dr. Burkhard P. Varnholt, chief investment officer, Credit Suisse (Switzerland) Ltd. and vice chairman of the Global Investment Committee. He opened his presentation by saying that a crisis — such as the COVID-19 outbreak — creates new business models, and consolidation. “The crisis creates losers, survivors and thrivers,” he said. Right now, we are in a situation he referred to as TINA – there is no alternative. That, coupled with another acronym – FOMO – or fear of missing out — is driving the current bull market, he said. But as equity allocations are still depressed from the 2008 market crash, the only way to raise future returns is going to be to raise equity.

“The internet remains the most effective and formidable price check that exists,” Dr. Varnholt said, talking about digitalization driving price discounts due to a high supply-to-demand ratio. He predicted that U-unraveling globalization will add to prices, but it will be more than compensated for by the deflation from COVID and the pricing transparency driven by the internet.

Final Thoughts & Key Takeaways

The conference wrapped up with a recap of the key takeaways from all the presentations. The common themes throughout all four sessions were:

  • Treasury is more important than ever
  • It’s important to position yourself well within the company – be the trusted advisor
  • Learn from the knowledge of third parties
  • Move ahead with best practices

Next year’s Fides Community Conference date will be announced in spring 2021.