Recently on AFP’s discussion list corporate treasury and finance professionals discussed where they store bank account data.
A treasury professional asked:
Currently, I store about 70 bank account documents (signature cards, opening documents) in folders in my office. Then I have a master spreadsheet that is password protected with all the bank account numbers, names, signers, etc., stored on my computer. My CFO has requested to see if there was a way to put this online that is secure, or try to find out how other companies store this information. If the way I am doing it now is the best way, that is okay too. Can anyone provide some general guidance on how you store this data?Dan Blumen, CTP, partner with the Treasury Alliance Group, replied:
One idea is to use the same entity management software used by your corporate secretary or, possibly your tax folks. There are a number of vendors for this type of software but the point is that most companies already own/license something like this. So it won’t cost you much, if anything.
The software is used to track legal entities and their various registration, compliance requirements and tables of authorities. Most packages have lots of additional fields that can be used for associated information such as bank accounts, currencies and other useful information that make a very functional bank relationship management database. They also allow you to attach documents. The systems are secure and robust.Bob Stark, vice president, strategy, Kyriba, replied:
The good news is: what your CFO is asking for is, indeed, possible. Most treasury management systems (or treasury workstations) have a bank account management module, which does exactly as you were asking about. There are also a couple systems dedicated to this area as well.
Generally, the best practice is to offer a single consolidated system for bank account data, signatories, and account-related documentation—for both audit purposes as well as to ensure you have the proper controls in place (e.g. ensuring linkage between your HR system and your signatories).Judy Bouchard, banking coordinator, ConocoPhillips, replied:
We have a customized tool for SAP for bank account administration—contains pertinent information for each bank account. We are in the process of making electronic copies of all the information in each bank account file folder and posting this on a controlled Livelink site. A controlled SharePoint site could be used as well. Our goal is to eliminate the paper files.Bob Stark replied:
Judy’s example of their use of SAP is a perfect example of best practice for managing bank accounts, documentation, and signatories. Every treasury system, including SAP or a full-blown treasury workstation, has a bank account management module that can be individually subscribed to without having to invest in other capabilities if you don’t want. As mentioned, there are also systems dedicated just to bank account management.
I would encourage you to look around and compare all the different options—what your CFO asked for is possible and I’ve worked with hundreds of companies that do exactly what you were asking about.
I believe there should be a collaboration with treasury with respect to the impact to cash and liquidity and have encouraged that dialog with the head of procurement over the last few years. As I am currently sitting in as interim procurement director, I guess it’s a bit like talking to myself!Amy Lipe, CTP, treasury systems manager, Arby’s Restaurant Group, replied:
I agree with a lot of the things said here regarding available software, but I would like to add that spreadsheets are not a safe way to store this type of information. They are easily hackable (even when password protected) by anyone who really wants to get into them.
This article appears in the June edition of AFP Exchange.