Next year our company, MANN+HUMMEL, will celebrate its 75th anniversary. Back when it was founded, I am sure that the business had just one bank account. The funds paid into this account came from customers, even if they were paid over the counter in cash. Suppliers then received their money and we employees were given our ‘pay envelopes’. All that money came and went via this one bank account, although I can’t rule out the possibility that there was also money located inside a safe that was in the care of Dr Hummel.
One of our oldest bank accounts is held by MHDE at the Kreissparkasse bank in Ludwigsburg. The account number is 17, although I was told by our advisor at the bank that the ‘7’ actually only serves as a check digit and that the actual number of the account is therefore ‘1’. So even back then we were no 1, which ties in well with our current position as the market leader in Filtration.
Since its creation, MANN+HUMMEL has grown nationally, internationally and globally. This, in turn, has led to an increase in the number of company bank accounts both here and abroad. A single bank account at the Ludwigsburg Kreissparkasse has now grown into over 200 accounts; one bank has multiplied into over 50 worldwide. I can tell you from experience that it is much easier to open a new bank account (when it is needed) than to close one, as you never know whether you will need to use it again.
We in the Treasury department believe we have a good handle on our responsibilities. Part of our role involves maintaining a transparent overview of all bank accounts and the money they hold. But bank accounts and account balances are only one side of the coin. Our role also entails making decisions that affect specific members of staff, such as:
- Who is authorised to sign off transactions? (For this, we consult a ‘specimen signature sheet’.)
- Who is allowed to approve payments and with whom? (All payments must be approved by more than one member of staff.)
- Do we have a copy of their passport? (This is required by the bank, e.g. for proof of identity or signature verification.)
For a long time, we were able to manage our bank accounts manually. But we then ran up against a problem: how could our Ludwigsburg-based team continue to centrally manage an ever increasing, locally-generated stream of information? We needed a solution that made life easier for everyone involved and that met our bank account management needs.
After examining a range of software options (with the help of a Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University student), we opted for a Cloud solution offered by TIS (Treasury Intelligence Solutions). A novelty in the financial sector, this software is not physically located in our offices but ‘on the Cloud’. However, this was only possible once our Corporate Information Security Officer had put the company, their IT processes and this new system through their paces. You can read more about this phase in the article on TIS’s success story that follows this piece.
The introduction and global rollout was managed by us centrally, and thankfully it worked out perfectly for everyone involved. Key to our success was the fact that we were able to process and upload approx. 80% of our bank account information centrally before launching the application. This saved a large amount of time, which we could then use for training. After completing these training sessions, colleagues based at the local sites were then able to input the remaining 20% directly into the new system. This was done in little to no time, which meant the global rollout could be completed rapidly.
This new solution has seen us take a quantum leap forward. Bank account information is accounted for locally and then managed by us centrally. We work with this system every day, and compared to how things were in the past, we are now kept updated on every single change that takes place in this area. We have also intensified our level of communication with internal auditors. Auditors are now also able to examine bank account information and use it for on-site audits.
Today our banking business is living in an age of lean and efficient management systems. We no longer need to worry about the future or our continued growth as there are no limitations on the number of bank accounts we can open or banks we can work with. Indeed, we know that working with more accounts and banks is the next logical step. But, at the same time, we feel safe in the knowledge that we will be able to manage these new accounts in a way that suits us best.