Timken, a multi-billion-dollar global manufacturer of engineered bearings and power transmission products, had multiple foreign exchange currency hedging programs in place to mitigate their balance sheet and anticipate transaction risk.
They had already done a lot of work to understand their exposures and activities, but they were using a legacy homegrown system based on MS Access to create journal entries (a routine process that handled just the basics of their hedge accounting needs) and a lot of spreadsheets and manual effort to keep it all afloat.
These limitations were holding them back from expanding their hedging program and maximizing hedge effectiveness. They were looking for a stable and scalable software solution that would allow them to more fully automate their processes and unlock the ability to hedge additional exposures or activities. However, while they knew they wanted to find best-in-class hedge accounting software that would help them streamline their workflows, they didn’t want to just plug their existing process into another system.
The Treasury team at Timken saw this project as an opportunity to implement best practices and improvements around all aspects of their entire hedging workflow. By finding the right strategic partner, they could get a whole lot more than technology improvements; they could bring Treasury, Accounting, Audit, and Financial Reporting together to enhance their entire hedging ecosystem.
Treasury Management Systems Fall Short
At first, Timken’s Treasury team started looking at full treasury management systems (TMS) that had derivative accounting modules. But the desire to transform their FX hedging program both digitally and in practice meant most of the treasury management systems they reviewed fell short. While many of the systems had good tools, none of the TMS vendors had the level of expertise Timken desired to really assess what Treasury and Accounting were doing and how they were doing it.
What Timken really needed was more than just software. They needed a strategic partner that could help them evaluate their entire hedging program and not just copy over the same activities into a new software.
“With a TMS we’d be getting just a module embedded in a huge system with no intelligence or support,” said Kevin Beck, Assistant Treasurer at Timken. “Hedge Trackers had both CapellaFX, the software, and an incredibly knowledgeable team. Those other systems may have been able to do the work, but they just didn’t have the people.”
Beck formed a team–all of whom would be impacted by the change, including individuals from the treasury, accounting, external reporting, internal audit, tax and FinTech teams–and laid out a project plan with Hedge Trackers that would ensure there was agreement and engagement internally, as well as a clarity around security review protocols and any parallel path reporting that would have to take place.
Integration & Automation
Automation was one of the Timken’s biggest goals in moving to a new software. In the past, the entire process required a significant amount of manual effort from trading to getting marketing information to posting journal entries. With CapellaFX, Timken was able to automate four key areas that, to date, had been a burden to Treasury and Accounting.
Treasury would do the majority of their trading in their electronic trading platform, FXall, but they needed to re-key the trade into their Access database. CapellaFX was able to seamlessly integrate with FXall, eliminating the need to manually pull spreadsheets, and rekey information with risk for errors.
“The integration literally consisted of a one-hour phone call and some testing on our site to make sure the systems were feeding the right information back and forth,” Beck said.
#2 Market Information
CapellaFX has also automated the process of getting market trading information. Instead of Timken pulling market-forward rates, printing all the information out and manually updating spreadsheets, Treasury simply runs spot checks to verify the market information provided by Hedge Trackers market data partner is reasonable. Timken was also able to improve their derivative fair-value calculations by including interest rates and credit rates for discounting; all data points that were previously labor-intensive to attain in the past and now come with the CapellaFX license.
#3 Journal Entries
Additionally, Timken implemented an integration between CapellaFX and SAP, their global ERP system, to fully automate the process of posting journal entries. Like trading, posting journal entries was a manual process. By setting up an API that automatically feeds information from CapellaFX to SAP on a monthly schedule, Treasury and Accounting can focus more on analyzing hedge results before posting into production while also eliminating the risk of posting errors.
#4 Hedge Designation Documentation
“Capella not only eliminated 90% of the manual keying we were doing, but we now have a process that is much more auditable,” said Collin Mottice, Senior Treasury Analyst at Timken.
Timken previously updated templates manually to act as contemporaneous designation documentation for cash flow and fair value hedges. With CapellaFX their documentation is automatically created with the click of a button when executed trades are retrieved from the trading portal.
A Better Process with Back-to-Back Hedging
Automation with CapellaFX was also the first step in enabling Timken to handle more complicated, more effective hedging strategies like back-to-back hedging. As with many Treasury departments, Timken’s process was heavily reliant on spreadsheets and their former Access-based system was very rigid.
“Hedge Trackers helped us look at best practices in the market around each activity so we didn’t just myopically focus on what we thought we needed,” Beck said. “Plus, with Capella, we now had the ability to push the amounts out to the individual locations that have the exposures.”
Not only had the Timken team set up some general assumptions and programming that essentially ran on autopilot but, before CapellaFX, the burden of a back-to-back hedging process would have far exceeded their bandwidth. Hedge Trackers worked closely with the Timken team to retool their process to take advantage of CapellaFX’s robust functionality and create a more effective hedging program overall.
Creating a more dynamic back-to-back hedging program meant paying closer attention to when hedge results should impact their financial statements so they would better match the underlying hedge item.
The Timken team also leveraged Hedge Trackers’ expertise when it came time to field questions from the individual legal entities regarding how the entries would now be booked and why.
“We fielded a lot of questions about how the formulas were calculated, what it meant from a GAAP perspective and how it all translated for local statutory purposes,” said Beck. “If we couldn’t answer the questions, we were able to schedule calls directly with the Hedge Trackers team. That knowledgeable support was invaluable.”
A Partnership That Reduces Risk
“We chose Capella FX because it was great software and came with a deeply knowledgeable team,” said Beck. “Hedging carries a lot of risk, has a lot of complexity, and garners a lot of audit attention so the fact that every person we work with at Hedge Trackers has expertise gave us–and continues to give us–a lot of comfort.”
Timken officially booked their first journal entries using CapellaFX in May 2019 and is going through their first quarter end but they’re already seeing the impact of working with Hedge Trackers in time saved and efficiencies gained.
Hedge Trackers continues to work with Timken’s external reporting team on leveraging CapellaFX’s standard disclosure reporting for their 10Q disclosures and will be collaborating on documenting a process for adding new entities next.