When the world can’t travel to your event, what do you do? Hold it virtually, and plan an in-person event for the following year. But as the poet Robert Burns said, “the best laid plans of mice and men aft gang agley” — and thus the in-person will have to wait yet another year. But the Fides marketing team took it all in stride, and determined to make this year’s virtual event more engaging, more entertaining, and more interactive.

The virtual Fides Community Conference 2021 was held on September 15. More than 200 Fides customers and partners registered for the 3-hour livestreamed webcast, hosted by finance.swiss video producer and anchor Tanya König. Conference sessions included a Fides business overview, client success panel, product roadmap and strategic outlook update, and guest presentations from Credit Suisse, PwC, and SIX.

Fides Business Update

One thing has become clear over the past year — the way we work, and the way we communicate, have radically changed in many ways since pre-COVID-19. CEO Andreas Lutz opened with a frank discussion of the need to adjust and adapt in order to keep both clients and employees fulfilled, and touched on some of the changes Fides has made.

Despite the challenges of the past year, the Fides business has continued to excel, starting more than 200 client projects and realizing a 10.1% increase in statement processing and a 25.5% increase in payment initiations (that’s more than 5 trillion US)! These figures reflect a continued year-over-year increase in all areas — and double-digit growth for client implementations. Fides also won the coveted TMI award for Best Bank Connectivity Solution, as well as once again taking home The European award for Best Performing Multibanking Connectivity Solution.

In the past year, Fides has invested heavily in its people and its products. Examples include new hires including CIO Bernhard Kaiser; recognizing internal talent through promotions, such as that of Simon Kaufmann to the newly-created role of Chief Revenue Officer; restructuring the client-related teams to be even more tightly aligned; extending the company mandate for risk and compliance as led by Chief Risk and Compliance Officer Jan Hugelshofer; increasing research and development; and ensuring that its customer-centric vision and collaborative culture can thrive in any environment.

Lutz said it was clear that transformation, and digitalization, would continue. And another constant: the support that Fides will continue to provide to its clients.

An Environment for Client Success and Product Excellence

This provided the perfect segue to a panel, led by Fides’ CRO Simon Kaufmann. The group, which included Daniel Balogh (Client Relations), Philip Anklin (Business Development), and Patric Leone (Project Management), discussed how Fides can support any size of business, in any environment, and how they are working together to grow the company’s customer and partner communities.

From initial contact with client relations and business development through project implementation, project management, and eventually marketing, all groups believe in the importance of communication and collaboration and have worked hard to ensure that not even unplanned remote work could disrupt their team. A recent client satisfaction survey report bears this out: 100% of respondents said that they would recommend Fides to their peers.

This may also be due in part to the Fides products: more than 400 product improvements were made in the past year — primarily feature enhancements, but some fairly exciting ones. Included among these, Senior Product Manager David Lehr shared, are grids that can be used to dynamically filter views; a mobile-optimized sign-off process; and the launch of the Fides Multibanking Ecosystem with digital money market platform provider Instimatch Global as the first partner participant.

The Fides team has also been hard at work restructuring and harmonizing its products to be able to soon deliver a fully integrated, single product that will be even more powerful than the Multibanking Suite available today. The unified product will feature a brand new, intuitive graphical user interface, contain new dashboards, new functionalities, and new layouts as well as include all of the features and functionality currently available — plus, it will offer access to brand new services, including cash pooling as-a-Service.

Fides’ recently hired CIO, Bernhard Kaiser, stressed that keeping it simple is of the utmost importance both to Fides and to its clients. His remit: to ensure the data clients transmit is as safe and secure as possible through Fides’ reliable, proven services, with the goal of making everything easy and care-free for all Fides clients.

Global Treasury Benchmarking

Every two years, PwC conducts a survey to take the pulse of treasury and finance, and compares it against historical data. Nearly 350 treasury representatives from all over the world participated in the 2021 edition. Guest speakers Tobias Thayer, Senior Manager, Corporate Treasury Solutions, and Michiel Mannaerts, Partner and Leader of Corporate Treasury Solutions Switzerland at PwC Switzerland shared the insights generated from the survey results, including key trends and the top five priorities for corporate treasury in 2021.

It should come as no surprise that cash and liquidity management ranked highest in priorities for treasurers, with funding/capital structure and financial risk close behind. For more details, see the full survey results on the PwC website.

The 2021 survey report theme is “seize the strategic opportunity” — which can also be reflected in the theme of this year’s Fides Conference. Corporate treasury is at an inflection point, where its value is recognized and a seat at the table is available. All treasurers have to do is take advantage of this opportunity to further prove their strategic value. Equally, companies like Fides are perfectly positioned to achieve their goals of becoming a strategic business partner for their clients.

Credit Suisse: Corporate Banking / Global Outlook

Fides clients can opt to benefit from many additional services provided by Credit Suisse, leveraging the relationship that Fides holds as an independently-operated subsidiary. Andreas Glaus, Managing Director and Head Swiss Multinational Groups shared information on Credit Suisse’s Swiss Universal Bank division and its Corporate & Institutional Clients business, which serves large corporate clients, small and medium-sized enterprises, institutional clients, external asset managers and financial institutions.

Credit Suisse also prides itself in being a leader in market strategy and trend forecasting. Philipp Lisibach, Credit Suisse’s Chief Global Strategist/Head Global Investment Strategy talked about the current state of the economy and how it is impacting investors. While the economic recovery is in process, Lisibach cautioned that it may not be linear — headwinds will continue to blow. Challenges such as lack of inventory and supply chain gaps caused by the pandemic mean that while there is greater potential for more sustainably elevated fiscal spending and corporate investments, economies may be slower to rebound while inflation can stay elevated compared to the pre-pandemic trend.

Transforming Payments Messaging to the New Reality: ISO 20022

Martin Walder, Head Billing & Payments Standards, SIX and Fides Chief Operating Officer Roman Müller discussed the growth of ISO 20022, the role that industry standards play, and suggestions for how treasurers can build a plan of action for their own migration.

SWIFT is migrating to ISO 20022 — and the market will follow. While not yet a global standard, Walder believes it is only a matter of time. “Standards act as a bridge,” he says. “That bridge [can be] between client and bank or bank to bank. You have to be able to consume what is coming [from the other side of the bridge]. Now the standards define its characteristics so that you are prepared and sure, that it works. ”

Key Takeaways

The overall outlook for treasury and finance going into 2022 is positive overall. Lutz says that Fides plans to focus on market challenges, expand its services and innovations, including entering new markets, but most importantly, continue to deliver the reliable, market-leading services that its clients have depended on for decades.