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Travelex Improves Efficiency in 50+ Countries Across the Globe

Since its launch in 1976, Travelex has built a market-leading retail network of specialist foreign exchange stores, helping customers easily spend and send money across the globe. Today, Travelex is one of the most widely recognised brands in foreign exchange.   Head-quartered in London, UK, its expert finance department helps Travelex smoothly operate 50+ countries, with over 115 different business units, spread from Sydney to Brazil.

The Challenge

Since its launch in 1976, Travelex has built a market-leading retail network of specialist foreign exchange stores, helping customers easily spend and send money across the globe. Today, Travelex is one of the most widely recognised brands in foreign exchange.  

Head-quartered in London, UK, its expert finance department helps Travelex smoothly operate 50+ countries, with over 115 different business units, spread from Sydney to Brazil.

Why BlackLine

Their Finance teams were dealing with over 2,500 account reconciliations on a monthly basis, so BlackLine’s quality risk assessment was a key differentiator.

“At Travelex, we follow a process of rationalising our balance sheet. Anything that is cash (in bank, vault, tills, or in transit) is labelled as a high-risk reconciliation for us and completed monthly. All other reconciliations are classed as non-key and sub-divided in medium or low risk. Medium risk reconciliations are prepared monthly and low risk on a quarterly basis. This risk-based approach is critical to our close,” says Heather.

‘’BlackLine’s unique approach to risk-assessment enabled us to make an informed decision on how we approach our many different reconciliations. It forced us to think about the frequency and timing of our monthly-close process,’’ adds Rory Suckling, Group Finance Director at Travelex.

With BlackLine, Travelex can track when key reconciliations have been prepared, approved and reviewed, which was not previously possible with Excel.

The implementation of BlackLine was kickstarted in three pilot entities in Italy, Australia, and the UK, with three different general ledgers, taking the team only six weeks to complete. After this successful initial implementation in 2018, the team at Travelex sought to train an additional 240 users across all entities, in the space of just eight to nine months. According to Heather, the BlackLine implementation process was seamless and efficient. “Training users and involving them early in the process was key. The BlackLine consultants’ advice to start small and build into the platform has ensured a better quality of process over time.”

“What really stood out for us was the efficiency of the BlackLine consultants, who even trained our own BlackLine champions in our Shared Service Centre in Mumbai. This group is now able to train onsite users, therefore maximising the onboarding process. This was a significant win for us and has saved a considerable amount of time.’’

BlackLine also allows Travelex to reconcile back to their own group consolidation tool, which assures the team that they’re picking up all the right balances and their reporting is correct

The Results

Increased visibility and control. Using BlackLine, Travelex now has greater visibility into the company’s processes and the status of tasks.  

External auditors have access to BlackLine, so they too have real-time visibility wherever and whenever they need it. Previously, all reconciliations were saved on local networks across the globe, and now they’re in one centralised platform.

Auditors can be confident that all reconciliations have gone through the full review cycle. They can see who prepared the reconciliation, who approved and reviewed a specific reconciliation, so they know who to ask when they have a question, saving both parties time.

Standardised processes that free up valuable time. According to Suckling, thanks to BlackLine and the significant reduction in manual, spreadsheet-based processes, some tasks have become a 20-minute job rather than a three-day job.

What’s more, having one central command centre for executing and tracking all tasks means that Travelex can easily standardise processes, helping reduce variability between business units.

“Using BlackLine, we are able to standardise processes and run training sessions on what a cash, bank, or accruals reconciliation should look like. This standardisation has saved time by providing guidance for what is required from a reconciliation,’’ says Heather.

Greater visibility into tasks requires greater accountability, and this brings additional benefits. “BlackLine has forced teams to put more effort into their reconciliations, and with this new control aspect from BlackLine, we’ve noticed an increased level of reconciliation substantiation,” Heather adds.

Achieved a seamless virtual close. The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged finance and accounting teams across the world to quickly adapt to closing the books with a distributed workforce.

BlackLine’s cloud-based technology enables finance and accounting teams to seamlessly adapt to changing circumstances, enabling collaboration, visibility, and control. BlackLine is helping companies like Travelex close with confidence during this crisis and beyond.

‘’Because BlackLine is cloud based, we’ve been able to leverage the platform from wherever our teams are working,” Suckling explains.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, every worker at Travelex was able to complete all of their work from home without visiting the office, because everything they needed is accessible in BlackLine’s centralised platform. Despite shifting to a virtual close, Travelex reported that no time was lost, and the finance team did not experience additional pressure while closing with a distributed workforce.

Reduced errors. Having real-time, automated software enables the leadership team to access the status of reconciliations from each business unit in Travelex, with all information accessible per user level.

“All levels of users have access to relevant dashboards for their functions, accessible in real time from anywhere. Tasks are set for each user, so everyone knows what is expected from them. From a leadership perspective this is extremely useful, as we have a single unified platform guiding us throughout the month on what should be done and by whom,” says Heather.

Teams can now measure timeliness with reconciliations, see why reconciliations were not prepared, and whether they required an adjustment. This allows Travelex to report on elements that were not possible to measure before. In turn, this helps improve the overall close process and ultimately reduce error and risk.