FinTech Interview with Victoria Blake, CPO at GTreasury

FTB News DeskAugust 22, 202324 min

Join us for an insightful conversation with Victoria Blake, Chief Product Officer at GTreasury, as she discusses the role of innovative products in optimizing treasury management and financial operations.

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Victoria Blake, Chief Product Officer at GTreasury.

Victoria Blake is the Chief Product Officer at GTreasury, a treasury and risk management platform provider. Blake has more than 20 yeas of experience in product leadership roles across several SaaS and technology companies, including Zapproved, Metal Toad, and WebMD Health Services. As GTreasury’s CPO, BLake leads the company’s global product and UX teams in developing and delivering new solutions for GTreasury’s customers and partners.

Fintech is a new industry for you, career-wise. What excited you about the opportunity?

Fintech is a really broad category. Though I’d put GTreasury in there, I think about my job more about serving the needs of the Treasurer, who sits inside the office of the CFO, who themselves sit inside modern, complex businesses.

And that’s my niche. I’ve focused my career on B2B SaaS, and I love it. Show me a workflow, show me a spreadsheet, and together we can come up with 100 ways to make that process faster, easier, more accurate, and more scalable for modern business needs. It’s fun. And it’s meaningful because we spend most of our lives at work, and if a tool that I help build can itself help users go home happier and less frustrated—and hopefully more successful in their role—then I’ve contributed just a little bit to the total level of happiness / non-irritation in the world.

But back to GTreasury… What’s interesting to me about this particular company and this particular product at this particular moment in time is that the Office of the CFO seems to be one of the last major functions in the enterprise that hasn’t moved over to digital tooling. A full 70% of the market is coming off of spreadsheets. That’s crazy! There’s so much room to make so many parts of the Treasury work faster, better, more accurate, etc. Which brings us back to the happiness project, and contributing in my own way to the total level of happiness in the world.

And finally, of course, the most important part of the opportunity was working for this amazing CEO and with this incredible collection of people. I’m learning a lot from the team here, and I love it.

What problems does GTreasury solve for finance and treasury professionals?

We know that Treasurers are struggling with increased complexity, with a greater need for cash visibility, as well as with reductions in treasury staff and in a constant struggle to gain more mind-share at the business. Fundamentally, the GTreasury platform unleashes the potential of treasury by creating connections between and among different parts of the treasury workflows. That means increased automation, decreased risk and human error, improved ability to manage cash, improved transparency and controls, as well as lower banking costs, and improved returns.

We do that through capabilities like seamless real-time banking connectivity, process automation, and clear and accurate visibility into their current cash and risk positions, as well as hedge accounting, financial instrument workflows, payments, etc. The best thing about the GTreasury platform is that it can grow as the treasury needs grow. Many customers start with us by just buying our cash visibility solution set, and then add in payments, or reconciliation, or financial instruments as their needs grow and change. It’s really incredible to be able to help customers over multiple years of growth at their companies, and be able to solve the problems with them as they grow.

How has GTreasury adapted its products and services to help corporate treasurers navigate ongoing volatility, such as supply chain issues and inflationary pressure?

This is going to sound hyperbolic, but I really don’t know how a Treasurer could do her job without a modern tool like GTreasury. Especially today. Since the 2008 financial crisis, we’ve gotten hit after hit of “once in a lifetime” events. Just a few months ago, everyone with a Treasury title got a phone call in which their boss asked, “How much counterparty risk do we have with Silicon Valley Bank?”

All of the pressures of this particular economic climate are felt acutely by the Treasurer. We help by, initially, letting the Treasurer know with their single morning log-in where their cash is and what their current cash position looks like. This already helps with things like FX exposure, because Treasury can now see how exposed they are to, say, the Rubel rising or falling or, gulp, having all Rubel assets frozen. We also help with interest rate visibility and forecasting, and then with identifying excess cash reserves and moving those to where they need to be operationally, or into a higher yield money market fund. And finally, let’s not forget the ability to quickly get answers to questions that the organizational leaders are asking. We allow Treasury to easily harness data from many sources, run analyses, and support C-suite decision-making.

How did the pandemic affect the priorities and challenges of corporate treasury teams? Has there been a lasting impact?

The pandemic was a shock, but it wasn’t the first and won’t be the last. The ongoing impact on the Treasury function is that, incrementally, Treasury is being asked to participate in higher-level strategic decision-making. When the system gets shocked, the first question is “How are we on cash?” Enabling Treasurers to answer that question—and to keep on top it—is the best way organizations have to protect themselves in the future.

I’m new to the industry, but what I’ve heard from customers is that the Covid shock opened the door a little bit more inside their companies to Treasury having a seat at the strategic table. I personally don’t think this trend will stop, and bit by bit that door will continue to open, now that organizations see how valuable—how crucial—the Treasury function is. That, plus the macro trends aren’t slowing down… Global M&A activity is still at record highs, which increases organizational complexity, FX and IR are still volatile, which increases the need for forecasting and quick decision-making, and the drive toward enterprise digitization will continue to push Treasury forward.

What are the biggest challenges treasury teams face right now?

Many treasurers find cash forecasting challenging due to the limitations of the outdated technology and manual processes they rely on. Without effective automation, treasury teams simply can’t match the pace required to complete forecasts at their desired frequency—and therefore can’t navigate market conditions optimally. Antiquated data systems further limit treasurers’ ability to centralize and translate crucial data into valuable insights. Treasurers grappling with traditional cumbersome banking connectivity methods struggle as well; they spend significant time and resources to complete basic transactions while leaving cash on the table as a result of errors, fees, and poor optimization. Fortunately, organizations can directly address these challenges with the right treasury modernization strategy.

What are some of the more exciting industry-wide developments that you think will have a big impact on treasury and finance teams in the near future?

I’ll mention three key fronts where treasury teams should look at outsized opportunities to modernize their technology:

The first is centralized and instant (or nearly instant) access to the data required for cash forecasting, predictive analysis, and scenario planning capabilities.

The second is API-based banking connectivity. Harnessing APIs offers night-and-day advantages over time-consuming and error-prone manual methods, making it possible to complete and confirm transactions in real-time.

Finally, treasury teams are increasingly seeing benefits by leveraging business intelligence and data lakes. The analysis, insights, and reporting these initiatives deliver can render an organization’s strategic decisions that much more timely and accurate.

What’s next for GTreasury in terms of new products or features that are on your roadmap?
We’re excited about the recent launch of ClearConnect Gateway, our out-of-the-box global bank API connectivity suite. With ClearConnect Gateway, our customers now have a uniquely-comprehensive solution for instant API connectivity and data integrations into their preferred banking partners.

Looking forward, we’ll continue to launch new features that bring simplicity and interoperability to treasury functions. Increasing our AI/ML capabilities, including real-time analysis and predictive modeling, is also on the horizon.

Digging deeper there, how do you see the role of AI and ML evolving within treasury management? How is GTreasury incorporating these technologies into its products?

AI/ML capabilities—whether via AI-powered predictions of liquidity needs, AI for process automation, etc.—are promising and will deliver increasingly important optimization and productivity benefits within treasury teams. I do think it’s worth noting, however, that AI/ML tooling is only as advantageous if the data it has to work with is complete and accurate. We want our utilization of AI/ML to sit atop very solid foundations from a data perspective; that is top of mind with any AI/ML-integrated solution we bring to market.

What advice would you give to other technology leaders and entrepreneurs considering moving into the fintech industry, as you have?

Great question! I think my advice would be “never lose sight of the customer or the user.” It’s easy in FinTech to get distracted by the big data, by the very exciting industry standardization, and by the thrill of solving complex problems. But at the heart of every great product is a deep understanding of customer needs. FinTech is no different than any other category in that regard. We all survive or die based on our ability to understand and answer customer needs, whether those needs are “help me with cross-currency netting” or “help me add a note to a journal entry.” To bring that sentiment full circle, this is what I meant by the “happiness project” concept at the start of the interview. Let’s make it our mission to let our customers and users go home at the end of the day a little bit happier, a little bit less frustrated, with a little bit more pride in a job well done. That’s what we’re here for, after all.

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