Circular economy champion L&T discovers ease of FX automation
Finland-based corporate Lassila & Tikanoja (L&T) has reinvented itself many times over since its founding in 1905. The environmental services company, a household name in Finland, has grown into a leading expert on circular economy, working with its customers to keep materials and properties in productive use for as long as possible.
Now, the forward-thinking company has also revamped its approach to liquidity management, embracing automation to manage its exposure to currency risk. L&T’s treasury department decided to start using Nordea’s AutoFX currency robot mid-pandemic, in the fall of 2020, after Covid-19 had shaken markets and upended businesses worldwide.
“We saw automation as an opportunity to reduce the manual work we’re doing in L&T treasury and avoid currency risks,” says Katariina Länsisaari, treasury controller in L&T. “AutoFX makes this so much easier.”
‘Leader of the regenerative society’
L&T was established at the start of the 20th century as a wholesale business, selling fabrics, knick-knacks and specialty goods. Morphing through many phases over the years, the company has developed into an international corporation focused on waste management and recycling services, property and plant maintenance as well as industrial cleaning services. It operates in Finland, Sweden and for now Russia, where its operations will be discontinued in 2021.
The company has fully embraced its role as “leader of the regenerative society,” committed to making circular economy a reality. Its overarching objective is to reduce the company’s carbon footprint and grow its “carbon handprint” – the positive climate impact of its operations. It does so by reducing waste volumes, extending the lives of properties, recovering resources and decreasing the use of raw materials and energy.
While the pandemic has had an effect on L&T, it’s been smaller than expected, according to Länsisaari. The company has adapted its operations to the changed circumstances. Covid-19 even created new business opportunities, with customers facing an increased need for disinfection services for their premises.
Controlling financial risk with FX automation
In the fall, L&T started to feel that its Swedish krone exposure required an increasing amount of manual handling to manage its FX risk, and the company began to explore FX automation solutions to ease that burden.
Before implementing AutoFX, Länsisaari and her treasury colleague Susanna Hovinen would have to monitor the currency accounts each week and manually exchange foreign currencies to EUR when needed.
“We suggested to L&T that they start using AutoFX Liquidity Management to eliminate this time consuming, repetitive task,” says Roope Parmasuo, Nordea Markets’ FX Sales representative who works with L&T. “Now, when the amount of SEK hits a certain threshold, the currency robot automatically sweeps the excess liquidity, and if there are any negative balances, it automatically tops those up. All monitoring, exchange and reporting happens automatically.”
Länsisaari says the move to FX automation has been a welcome change for her team.
“We were surprised by how easy it was to start using AutoFX. Now we don’t need to monitor the currencies each week. We can simply rely on AutoFX working automatically in the background, within the limits we as a company have set. It’s great that we can determine the boundaries and change them if there’s a change in the business,” she says.
What’s more, team members no longer have to remember to do the manual monitoring, and the robot minimises the risk of human error.
FX automation on the rise
The level of automation used by treasury and finance departments is expected to increase significantly in the coming years, according to Nordea’s Treasury 2025 survey of treasury and finance departments across the Nordics. FX is among the top three areas when it comes to automation expectations among those surveyed.
To help companies on their automation journey, Nordea built the first version of its liquidity management robot in 2015. While most corporates were in wait-and-see mode back then, the solution has since gained significant traction, and the number of customers using the tool climbs steadily each month.
The customer portfolio using AutoFX ranges from small startups to the biggest pension funds in the Nordics. Some have automated the entire process while others have automated the smaller, recurring tasks.
“AutoFX is suitable for a wide range of situations and can be tailored to the specific needs of different clients,” says Nordea’s Parmasuo.
Nordea’s AutoFX offering is also constantly evolving, with Nordea’s Next Gen FX team continuously developing new features to make the solution even more useful. For example, Nordea recently launched AutoFX Hedging, allowing companies to automate their FX hedging according to their own hedging policy. The bank has also launched AutoFX IQ, a new FX advisory tool that helps companies analyse and forecast their currency cash flows for smarter decision-making. That’s alongside a host of AutoFX APIs, which allow companies to fetch relevant data, such as FX market rates and historical trades, as well as execute FX trades when something happens in their own system.