Top US Corporate Payment Trends Shaping 2022 and Informing 2023
Elizabeth Allen November 23rd, 2022
As a momentum leader in G2’s Fall 2022 leaderboard, MHC strives to not only keep on top of trends in the AP world, but to actively use that information to create forward movement that will positively impact our customers and the industry overall.With that, we are committed to encouraging thought leadership, inviting some of the most respected experts in the payables field monthly to speak on their favorite accounts payables topics.
Having hosted some of the brightest minds in accounts payable, we have been able to get a grasp on the most informative trends we’re seeing in US corporate payments in 2022. And as we’re always looking to the future, we’re eager to discuss the payment trends we believe will have the biggest impact on AP teams in 2023. Lastly, learn how AP managers and CFOs can use this information to ensure agility in the coming years.
Top Corporate Payment Trends Shaping 2022
1. Moving away from check payments
When speaking to Recharged Education’s Lynn Larson in September 2022, she shared some of her 20 years of business-to-business payments experience, specifically on the topic of where US corporate payment methods are headed as we move towards a more digital landscape. While checks seem outdated in our personal lives, the number of checks corporations still use to pay suppliers is astounding.
Estimating approximately 12,000 checks written annually (and including the costs associated with the physical check, printing, postage, and labor), the costs to continue this antiquated payment method can cost an organization almost $10,000 per year- on top of the payments being made to suppliers. According to Lynn, US organizations are getting wise and have started to move away from check payments and into electronic methods that reduce time, labor, and required resources.
While ACH (automated clearing house network) payments remain a preferred method once an organization graduates past writing manual checks, there is a high cost demanded of both the payer and payee and it leaves the business open to be a target of fraud. Physical credit cards can be provided to employees responsible for making purchases and results in convenience, reduction of invoice and expense reimbursement requests, and can provide potential rebate opportunity to the organization as a whole.
Yet, US companies must keep in mind that not all suppliers are eager to receive payment via credit card, due to the associated processing costs. And one thing that must be considered is that if you are to provide credit cards to employees, a corporation will have to install a staff member or team to manage the program. Virtual cards are also another option, allowing the payment to be made by the AP team. Note that the same pros and cons associated with the physical card can largely be expected if you were to pursue this payment method.
WATCH WEBINAR RECODING
Speaker: Lynn Larson
Watch our webinar to see B2B payments veteran Lynn Larson identify what can trip up an organization in its quest for upped efficiencies and cost savings.
2. More negotiated discounts
Inflation is a topic we just can’t seem to escape. We see the proof of inflation at the grocery store, in our retirement portfolios, and even at the gas pump. Regardless of industry, inflation has hit the entire globe and only appears to be getting worse. And unsurprisingly, this will increasingly impact organization to supplier payments.
Brian Rosenberg of The Rosenberg Group joined us in September to discuss how to move toward an advanced way of thinking about your accounts payable process. As someone with 20 years’ experience in AP automation and process design, Brian has had the opportunity to be the chief architect for many AP and procure-to-pay shared service centers. And with that experience has come true insight into what we can expect to see due to changes in the economic climate in the United States.
As inflation continues (or, unfortunately, intensifies) and borrowing becomes more expensive, US suppliers will start to feel more pressure than ever to offer discounts. Pressure from their own accounts receivables teams will entice them to collect money faster. And AP teams can take advantage of this upcoming trend in US corporate payments. Negotiating payment discounts will improve your company’s cash flow during a time when the health of that cash flow is of the utmost importance. And as this same inflation will cause vendors to be less likely to waive late payment penalties, it is in AP’s best interest to pay early, receive any offered discounts, and avoid late fees.
WATCH WEBINAR RECODING
Speaker: Brian G. Rosenberg
Sharpen that pencil, open that notebook, and watch our our webinar and graduate to the next level of AP and P2P management as we talk about techniques to address the largest challenges in AP.
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3. Leveraging metrics and KPIs
In July 2022, Brian Rosenberg of The Rosenberg Group was kind enough to share his thoughts on how metrics and KPIs can be used to improve your US corporate payment process. Analyzing the differences between KPIs and metrics, Brian painted a concise picture as to how all the data available to AP teams can be optimized to meet organization-wide goals and objectives.
KPIs are made up of leading and lagging indicators. Lagging indicators are information about past performance. While useful, measurable information, this data no longer allows you the opportunity to influence future performance. On the other hand, leading indicators, while more difficult to measure, give companies a chance to use present data to achieve future goals.
When it comes to US corporate payment trends, more companies are starting to lean on leading indicators as a way to ensure more timely and accurate payments. For example, your company’s backlog is a lagging indicator that shows your AP team is having some issues with moving invoices quickly from receipt to payment. This information only tells you that there are delays. However, using data to obtain invoice processing times can indicate where the bottlenecks are in the process and allow you to use that information to reduce those delays. And with the ability to reduce payment delays, you’ll reduce backlog. And as you reduce backlog, your organization is more likely to obtain early payment discounts, rebates, and avoid late fee penalties.
WATCH WEBINAR RECODING
Speaker: Brian G. Rosenberg
Metrics matter. Join us for this in-depth examination/analysis/breakdown overview of how AP and Procure-to-Pay operations can be transformed through metrics.
4. Mobile access to make payments
A very interesting and timely topic, Mark Brousseau of Brousseau & Associates joined MHC in June 2022 to discuss The Great Resignation and how it’s impacting the US accounts payable world. While this uptick in employees voluntarily leaving their companies has resulted in one-third of AP pros working longer hours, we’re still seeing 57% of AP departments with only partially automated processes. Manual processes are frustrating and time-consuming, leaving many payables professionals to question their satisfaction with their careers. As companies try to mitigate this by being more flexible with work-life balance (offering a remote or hybrid work environment, allowing for non-traditional work hours), the functions and needs of the department will evolve.
In his research, Mark found that 35% of workers are more likely to begin a job search if they are required to work in an office full-time. This increases the call for automated process workflows along with electronic payment options and convenient mobile access. Organizations will need to stay competitive by allowing their payables team to make vendor and supplier payments, regardless of where they’re sitting, regardless of the time of day. Automation, mobile access, and electronic payment options are a US corporate payment trend we expect to see if companies want to retain a talented and experienced pool of employees.
WATCH WEBINAR RECODING
Speaker: Mark Brousseau
Watch our webinar to discover how AP automation can help you survive the Great Resignation by creating a more digital and fulfilling workplace!
5. Avoiding duplicate payments
In the best of times, companies want to avoid making duplicate supplier payments at all costs. Not only does it impact your cash flow, but it takes valuable time and resources to determine the cause of the duplication and to right the initial wrong. However, as we head into a more uncertain economic time, companies will not be able to afford to make extra payments to vendors. And as it stands, one to two percent of all payments are duplicates. While an annoyance usually, duplicate payments could seriously hamstring an organization’s ability to do business during an economic downturn.
In April 2022, Mary Schaeffer of AP Now hopped on a webinar with MHC to discuss just how detrimental duplicate payments can be to a company. She went over what a duplicate payment is, how to identify that duplicate payments have been made, how to resolve the issue when discovered, and how to avoid making duplicate payments going forward. In 2022, it is even more imperative to create a standardized, team-wide policy- ensuring all parties are following a process that will avoid payment duplication. Teams will have to begin committing to utilizing a centralized location for the receipt of invoices. AP departments will also likely have to become more assertive with their suppliers- requesting that duplicate invoices are not sent unless and until the payment deadline has been exceeded. These are just a few steps that will keep companies from making additional payments they simply can’t afford to make in times of financial crisis.
WATCH WEBINAR RECODING
Speaker: Mary Schaeffer
Vendors don’t automatically return duplicate payments, so preventing them is your best option. Find out how from AP Now’s Mary Schaeffer!
What’s Coming in 2023 +
How AP Leaders Can Be Prepared
While it’s become more important in this digital landscape, automation has become the name of the game when it comes to US corporate payments. All of the US corporate payment trends our thought leaders have identified in 2022 can be accomplished through the use of an automation solution- leveraging data capture, configurable approval workflows, and automatic payments. Ensure that your company is meeting the world where it is while preparing your company for the unexpected, allowing automation to empower your agility.
Gina Armada, CEO of MHC and winner of Aragon’s 2021 Women in Tech award, has spent her career analyzing what’s to come in the accounts payable space. And as we look ahead to a time of economic hardship, it is even more important to pay attention to those who have always been paying attention.
CEO of MHC Automation
“ Simply put, automation is the key to an agile and scalable AP automation operation. As technology advances, finance leadership will further understand the importance of investing in a solution that allows their AP team to go from transactional to strategic.“
HOW AP LEADERS CAN GET PREPARED
- Explore payment methods outside of manual checks or ACH payments. Consider the use of employee payment cards or virtual credit cards for your AP team.
- Negotiate now with your vendors for improved early pay discounts or rebates.
- Create benchmarks and analyze incoming data to ensure that you catch problems before they become a problem.
- Ensure your payment policies are standardized, centralized, and that your entire organization is committed to following them.
- Train staff on fraud detection and implement organization-wide policies to avoid fraud altogether.
- Implement AP automation solutions to ease the flow of receipt to invoice, allowing your team increased flexibility and productivity. For companies already using an AP automation solution, tighten up your workflows and approval processes so they can accommodate the unforeseen.
The knowledge of trends is only worthwhile if you use that knowledge to inform further action. Use 2022 as an education, internalizing what we learned about US B2B payments. Be prepared for 2023 by taking advantage of automation and payment technology. And use all you learn in 2023 to build a strategy for how to succeed in 2024.