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The Association for Financial Professionals’ annual conference is an event that financial industry stakeholders always look forward to as the opportunity of the year to connect with and learn from one another. We missed this opportunity to be in person in 2020, and it was energizing to be back together connecting with corporate treasury practitioners, banking professionals, and financial technology provider peers.

While this event was expectedly and understandably different from past annual conferences, attendees embraced the opportunity to see colleagues, customers, partners, or friends they hadn’t seen in a while. And, it didn’t hurt that Washington DC is a fun and meaningful place to visit.

A smaller scale AFP 2021 enabled deeper conversations that left practitioners and solution providers alike with better insights into the treasury, cash management, and accounting landscape.

My own interactions at AFP left me with four key take-aways

  1. Treasury and Finance professionals are more focused than ever on enabling and empowering their teams with technology. Cost savings and efficiency have long been drivers of transformative initiatives driven by technology, but beyond these traditional ROI measures, many finance and treasury leaders have simply realized that their legacy processes won’t work in the new work environments and operating models they are striving to create for their businesses, internal teams, and customers.
  2. Because of the pressures and desires to evolve their business processes, treasury and finance practitioners expect more out of their banks and technology providers. Relationships are still important, but best-in-class solutions that best address business requirements ultimately win.
  3. Every financial process is on the table for transformation. Finance leaders know that the nimbleness required for businesses to thrive in today’s world demands inspection of all aspects of how payments, cash, banking relationships, and teams are managed. Historically, practitioners and providers talked a lot about optimizing outbound payments and cash management. AFP 2021 drew an outsized presence of solution providers with product capabilities that spanned so many critical parts of the CFO office. Accounts Receivable Automation, Payables Automation, Cash & Treasury Management, Financial Close and Cash Forecasting were some of the key areas that were represented.
  4. Fintech/Bank partnership announcements have made headlines for years, but we are starting to see a positive evolution of these relationships. Conversations have moved beyond how these two different types of solution providers can partner to deliver the best payments and cash management products to corporate customers to how fintechs and banks can partner to effectively educate customers on best practices and innovations.

Looking ahead to 2022, the continued realities of distributed financial teams, increased digitization of payments and processes, and economic uncertainty will undoubtedly further accelerate CFO and treasury-led transformation. DadeSystems is working with these financial leaders to optimize the way that customer payments are received and reconciled, driving mission critical capabilities for faster access to cash and customer credit replenishment, reduced DSO, and more scalable teams. For further reading, check out this guide co-authored by IOFM and DadeSystems, How Automated Cash Application Delivers the Benefits CFOs Need.