Windy City Summit Recap

By Sylvia Rodee, VP, Treasury Management

See what's trending in Treasury

Can you imagine Alexander Hamilton’s reaction to cash management in the 21st century? Payments are speeding up, interest rates are heating up and IT departments are gearing up to protect their networks from attack. Over 1,200 financial professionals gathered at the 31st Annual Windy City Summit, sponsored by The Treasury Management Association of Chicago (TMAC), to learn about the state of cash management. And it may seem to some that the world has been turned upside down.

If you were not able to attend the conference at Navy Pier this year and are wondering “What’d I miss?,” here are some highlights:

  • Faster Payments - will we ever be satisfied? Many attendees filled sessions focused on Same Day ACH or the emerging Real Time Payments network. While practitioners appreciate the opportunity to collect receivables on a same day basis, they are wondering how they will manage their accounts if payments move to a 24x7 settlement model. There also remains significant interest in integrating receivables and remittance details that allow businesses to automate the settlement of their receivable accounts. But check remains a very popular payment method, even with all of the innovation in electronic payments.

  • Managing Liquidity – what comes next? After years of low and stagnant interest rates, the Federal Reserve has begun hiking rates. And cash managers are working in a new environment where faster payments also mean their accounts can be credited or debited later in the day, making liquidity positions even MORE liquid.  Businesses have decisions to make about where to keep their funds to maximize interest for the first time in almost 10 years. Asset allocations need to consider how to segment between Operating Cash, which should be in low-volatility funds with lower returns, and longer term strategic funds, which can be invested in vehicles with higher rates of return but will tie up funds for longer.

  • Fraud Prevention – is the fight against fraud helpless? Sessions on security remain popular. Even the keynote address was focused on this topic as Devon Bruce, lawyer for the City of Dixon in the infamous fraud case, reviewed how the City of Dixon, the auditors and the bank missed signals of the $54 million embezzlement. But the danger is not only from internal sources. According to 2017 Association for Financial Professionals (AFP) Payments Fraud and Control Survey, 63% of companies experienced attempted or actual fraud that originated from outside their organization. The trend in ransomware is Ransomworms, like the recent WannaCry virus that created havoc on a global scale. All businesses are urged to backup important data, keep up-to-date on any software/software patches and educate their employees on how to detect and avoid business e-mail compromise

After a long period of few cash management innovations and stagnant interest rates, the environment is changing rapidly. These changes give businesses opportunity, but there are pitfalls to avoid. And underlying all of these changes is the need to continually enhance security to stay ahead of increasingly sophisticated fraud attacks. As always, Windy City Summit offers excellent resources to educate and inform on the trends in cash management. If you are in the Chicago area next year during the last week in May, you’ll want to be like Alexander Hamilton and be in the room where it happens for the 32nd Annual Windy City Summit.