Recovery, survival and security will be the main strategy drivers for most financial institutions in 2021, according to Krzysztof Rojek, with AI set to play a bigger role in credit assumptions, replacing instinct with data
As the world continues to navigate the impact of Covid-19, several prominent treasury trends facing Asian financial institutions have emerged – from liquidity management, security and regulatory changes to the rise of ecosystem partnerships.
One of the key questions for banking executives will revolve around readiness. Will current systems and processes continue to support the post-Covid working environment and how they will manage new challenges as they arise?
Recovery and survival will be the main strategy drivers for most financial institutions in 2021. As they seek to undo the negative impacts of the pandemic, many will be looking for ways to contain costs and manage profitability.
AI, for example, can process large amounts of data and then use historical inputs to predict future cash flows. AI and machine learning will also need to play a bigger role in credit assumptions, replacing gut feel with science and more accurate credit decisions.
As financial institutions turned to remote working in 2020, onsite deployments began to show their age, revealing vulnerabilities and security risks.
A report released by cybersecurity firm Sophos in March 2021 said that over half of the 900 businesses it surveyed in the Asia Pacific felt “unprepared for security requirements driven by the sudden need for secure remote working caused by Covid-19”. The number of cyberattacks suffered by the surveyed organisations was 56% in 2021 – up from 32% in 2019.
As remote or hybrid work environments continue into 2021, financial institutions will need to ensure secure means for connecting employees. Cloud-based services supported by Microsoft Azure, for example, incorporate two-factor authentication, offering greater security for employee collaboration and financial data.
The unparalleled credit flexibility offered throughout the Covid-19 crisis is bound to usher in a new era of regulation to ensure successful handling of treasury, particularly liquidity-type events. Adhering to existing and emerging regulatory agendas could stretch banking resources thin.
In Asia, for example, the transition from LIBOR continues. Regulators in Singapore and Hong Kong have issued updated timelines for their transition, with the banking industry continuing to press ahead with the adoption of local rates.
One trend that has most clearly accelerated is the rise of ecosystem partnerships. A look back at the past year reveals how quickly business environments can change and how easily current capabilities can become obsolete.
Coming into the Covid-19 crisis, many operations were held captive by outdated systems and software that could not be adapted to meet the needs of current remote work environments. As a result, we saw a rapid movement toward the cloud as businesses transitioned architecture and systems to secure off-premise environments.
In 2021, savvy financial institutions will take these lessons to inspire new business models focused on increased agility. Financial institutions are likely to continue the movement away from the standard and limiting time-based contract offered by most service providers in favour of partnerships with an open ecosystem provider.
Ecosystem environments are built to provide financial institutions with product choice, allowing for easy adoption supported by cloud-based APIs. In simplest terms, APIs provide a connection layer between the financial institution and the service provider, making it possible for banks to plug-and play the solutions necessary to meet current and future needs.
NEED FOR INNOVATION
The main advantage of this approach is flexibility. As the financial institution outgrows a product or service, they are free to unplug it and start with a new offering designed to better fit their needs.
Of course, ecosystem success depends heavily on the types of products and services offered by the platform provider. Leading providers realise the necessity of innovation and willingly partner with external sources to develop the breadth and complexity of financial offerings that banks need.
This approach positions financial institutions to be future ready, supporting continuous evolution with minimum effort and expense.
Enhanced data management lies at the heart of solutions like these. Currently, many banking treasury management systems are held together by independent data silos, making it difficult to consolidate data for comprehensive insights. APIs, on the other hand, provide a single access point to multiple sources of data, providing visibility across the entire banking landscape to reduce risk through real-time reporting.
Ecosystems also provide a way for banks to easily adopt solutions that can be offered to customers, kicking up revenue generation strategies. As the current low-rate environment continues and financial institutions face continuing regulation, ecosystem partnerships will open up fresh opportunities for financial institutions to reach new goals, despite the challenging environment in the year ahead.
Financial institutions that can adopt high-quality tools for liquidity management, fortify their security set-up, navigate regulatory changes and embrace an ecosystem approach stand to stay ahead of the treasury management game.
Understanding these trends will help financial institutions effectively steer their strategy and technology adoption as they navigate the changing environment.
- Krzysztof Rojek is a Senior Director at Global Solution Consulting, Finastra