Automation 101: Technology is Expanding Financial and Banking Services

October 31, 2018 by Comerica Bank

Automated financial services have revolutionized the business and banking management experience. Convenience and speed are what people want most, and the ever-improving capacity of technology delivers on what individuals have come to expect, particularly from financial institutions, to accomplish their everyday tasks quickly and efficiently.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is fueling these advanced capabilities. It’s easy to consider AI as the wave of the future, but in reality, it’s the here and now. According to Gallup polling, 85 percent of Americans regularly use products or services that contain AI capabilities, a proportion of the public that's only expected to grow as the digital train gains momentum. With more service channels readily available, online banking is now the preferred method consumers use to take care of their account management errands, based on survey data from Accenture Research.

Business owners especially want these expeditious capabilities to keep pace with their competition and make the most of their human capital to help improve the customer experience. Legacy systems once had their utility, but with back-office operations more voluminous and time-consuming than ever - such as payables and receivables - they're no longer efficient, especially when advanced technologies are available to streamline payment processes.

Accounts payable automation solutions enable business owners to improve productivity by taking care of tasks that are important to handle without sacrificing human capital, which is better used in other more personalized capacities - the kind AI can't handle. Companies that invest in AI and human-machine collaboration have the potential to increase their earning power by 38 percent, according to calculations from Accenture Research. Boosts in revenue stand to be even greater among specific industries - as much as 28 percent growth in automotive, 34 percent in professional services, 41 percent in retail and 49 percent in health care.

Automated financial services come in many forms, but here are a few of the ways they can benefit your company from a perspective of payment processing:

Enhances speed

Manually processing paper-based invoices takes excessive amounts of time and energy, just to process one, never mind several as is usually the case for business owners, particularly in health care. Automation speeds up the process and saves time through paperless payments, which more companies are assiduously pursuing. According to the Association for Intelligent Information Management, companies that reported "actively seeking" ways to eliminate paper went from 9 percent in 2014 to 16 percent a year later.

Improves accuracy

As fastidious as your staff may be, they're bound to make mistakes or miscalculations when transcribing or using manual key entry. Robotic process automation and intelligent machines help to reduce the potential for error by rendering manual entry unnecessary.

Reduces clutter, disorganization

Work processes get bogged down when papers and invoices get misplaced. According to the ILM Corporation, when documents get misfiled, tracking them down averages an hour, and three hours if someone has to recreate it. Paperless invoices filed and logged electronically makes for easier access by reducing clutter and the potential for productivity delays caused by mishandling.

Strengthens compliance capabilities

Every industry is affected by compliance protocols, which can change at any given time. Accounts payable automation can give you and your staff the extra time needed to make the appropriate modifications when and if compliance regulations change, freed from the constraints and monotony of manual processing that automated financial services are capable of handling.

Whatever industry you happen to be in, from health care to dealer services, Comerica Bank has a complete offering of payable solutions that can help your business thrive. An experienced Comerica Bank Treasury Management Officer will evaluate your payables and receivables so that your method is customized to your preferred format. Using your company's own data helps to make customization possible. The all-in-one payment processing services available through Comerica Bank allow for a more in-depth, immersed degree of automation.

Comerica ranks first nationally among the top 25 U.S. financial holding companies, based on commercial and industrial loans outstanding as a percentage of assets, as of June 30, 2018. Data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

This information is provided for general awareness purposes only and is not intended to be relied upon as legal or compliance advice for your business.

 

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Mitigating Risks in Exporting

October 19, 2018 by Comerica Bank

Across the globe, countries that dot the map are united in their desire for growth and development. Imports and exports help make this possible, with companies accessing trade opportunities in a variety of industries.
Between 2006 and 2016, according to the World Trade Organization (WTO), agricultural-related exports rose by an average of 15 percent each year. Exports of commercial services reached $5 trillion from $2.9 trillion over the same span, and among WTO members, the overall value of merchandise trade reached $15.4 trillion from $11.7 trillion.

With figures like these, it's little wonder why the United States, the largest economy in the world, is also the largest trading nation.

As opportunity-rich as imports and exports may be for the businesses and consumers that exchange and use them, engaging in trade isn't without its risks, be they financial, political or contractual in nature. Taking a risk management approach in the goods and services you export to trade partners can help you and your company avoid running into issues that could derail your long-term goals. Here are some of the potential obstacles to be aware of when engaging in foreign trade, and what can help you mitigate risk.

An overvalued currency

The United Nations recognizes approximately 180 different currencies, and their relative values are rarely in alignment with one another. Nowhere is this more evident than when exchange rates become overvalued. When this occurs, the purchasing power of the money used in transactions weakens, making exporting a costlier option because it doesn't buy as much as it used to. This incentivizes the purchasing of domestic goods - or those from a country where there's greater currency parity - because exports become more expensive.

While overvalued currency can't be avoided - often influenced by market dynamics and political upheaval, among other contributors - you can mitigate the effects by doing your homework on the exchange rate and taking a preemptive, precautionary approach to international trade transactions. These steps may include obtaining letters of credit that are structured for various business applications. How they're composed depends on the risk factor(s) in question. Financial institutions, where these letters are traditionally available, also frequently work in consultation with the federal government to assist with risk mitigation depending on the risk factor. These government exports programs and affiliations can be found at the International Trade Administration's website devoted to export education and global trade information.

You may also want to consult with a financial manager who specializes in foreign exchange and international business transactions. A professional can give you a rundown of the current and historic political environment and the economic system of governance.

Different legal structures

From banking regulations to determining what constitutes the proper transferal of funds, you can easily run into legal complications with international trade because laws aren't universal. How are contracts handled in China? What compliance protocols must be adhered to in Mexico, and how do they compare and contrast with those in the U.S.? Wading into foreign exchange transactions, without having an understanding of the laws that exist, can be a recipe for disaster, leading to reputational consequences that harm your bottom line and your future trade opportunities, whether with a specific company or country overall. That's why it's important to choose a global transactions partner whose expertise and familiarity with the processes involved can serve as your guide.

From the analysis of currency risk exposure to financing solutions in foreign currencies, Comerica Bank offers business solutions, not just banking products. Our dedicated team of advisors will help you navigate international business practice waters.

Comerica Bank is the Leading Bank for Business1, and our global solutions savvy can take you places that you never thought possible. Find out first hand by requesting a free consultation with us today.

1Comerica ranks first nationally among the top 25 U.S. financial holding companies, based on commercial and industrial loans outstanding as a percentage of assets, as of June 30, 2018. Data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.
This information is provided for general awareness purposes only and is not intended to be relied upon as legal or compliance advice for your business.

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