We had the pleasure of interviewing one of FinMetrics’ most notorious multinational corporate clients, namely RTL Group, part of Bertelsmann. Sophie Depairon is its Senior Vice President Treasury, Corporate Finance and Enterprise Risk Management. Within her department consisting of just 7 people, she manages the cash flows and foreign exchange transactional and hedging operations (FX) for about 200 entities, located mainly in Europe but also in the US, in Australia and in the UK. The cash flow management being centralised in Luxembourg, they are the internal bank of the group, putting in place the FX best practices and preparing the relevant accounting IFRS9 bookings.
What was the problem you faced prior to working with FinMetrics?
We used a Treasury Management System (TMS)°in the way most Treasury departments do, which is an excellent tool, but, certainly at the time, it was not really flexible in terms of reporting. The problem of the accounting treatment is that you need different views on the same deal, in terms of timing or analysis. For every new reporting need or new perspective, analytical time and extra developments were required from the TMS provider. It took too long, and once developed, we were lacking the needed flexibility for future evolutions and adaptations.
Additionally, when you need something specific it is good to have advice. TMS providers are not the best at providing this specific advice. You can opt for the so-called Big 4s; they will give you advice but not the tools.
Therefore, we found that FinMetrics was a good solution combining both a good tool and good advice.
How did FinMetrics approach the problem?
One point I would like to highlight here is that the FinMetrics team is listening to their customers! It should be a given from all service providers, but it is not actually. The FinMetrics specialists we worked with, Hugues and Quentin, first listened to our issues and did not jump into conclusions before having a very good understanding of what our problem was and how they could fix it.
Then we developed a model, first on Excel, to do a sketch of the possible solution. Once we found the right solution, a more robust tool, FinBoard, was put in place that was adaptable to different variants and views we needed.
Looking at it today, did they solve the issues you faced?
Sure; we are using the solution daily. Also, as we have, like in any team, personnel turnover, it is important to have a very easy-to-use tool and this is the case with FinBoard. Moreover, the technology has evolved with TMS updates and APIs and FinMetrics has evolved too in the same direction.
What do you expect for the future?
On the short term we are very happy with the solution, but as we are changing the TMS, we might need FinMetrics to adapt to the new environment. Now with the new system, it will be even easier to access the database through APIs, which will make it easier for plugging FinBoard into the system and will make our IT department even happier.
On the longer term there is room for further improvements with AI with reporting and presentations.
Anything you would do differently?
At a certain moment you need to be able to stop the requests. Once you start you add reports and other reports because it is easy and feasible. But we do not use all of them. It is like a child in a toy shop that can choose all it wants: you take many toys, but in the end you have your favorite ones and mostly “play” with those. It is important to add that when there was a problem with a new entity added to the group or something changed, we could always count on the FinMetrics team, even under heavy stress from the Audit department, for immediate assistance.
What did you appreciate the most in the collaboration?
First, the advice, but also the time they spent. There was no chronometer for every request or report. We paid for the service rendered but it felt like it was a real partnership. We had a target to reach together, and everyone contributed till we reached it together. What was really appreciated is the knowledge of FinMetrics’ team. It is pleasant and efficient to discuss with the same understanding of the activity we do and find out together the solutions.