What we learned about signatory lists

For many governance professionals, managing, distributing and updating their authorised signatory lists can be painful. In many instances, the process is manual, therefore time consuming and costly. In addition, outdated signatory lists can expose your organisation to the risk of signatory fraud.

At Cygnetise, we have worked with dozens of companies authorised signatory lists, and learned a few things that we thought could be interesting for professionals like you to know.

1. Ensure that your lists are up to date and your counterparts have the most recent version

Trust plays a huge part in business and fortunately 99% of people working in them are trustworthy. Even if your procedures and processes are exploitable, people won’t. However, that doesn’t mean that someone won’t try at some point so keeping your list up to date greatly reduces that risk.

2. Keep the signatory rules and categories simple and understandable. Your counterparts are not mind readers.

People can’t be expected to parse your complex and bewildering rules. Lists are often documents that have evolved over time and been passed down through multiple employees. Often it leaves a bloated and confusing set of rules that are impossible to decipher. Make sure you have your list reviewed periodically.

3. Keep the details of the people on the list to a minimum.

The information provided on each signatory needs to only be relevant to your signatory rules. For instance, if I need to know that Jill Smith is a category A signatory but I don’t need to know that she is the Global Head of Sales for Europe (EMEA region).

4. Keep the numbers on the list manageable.

While being on the lists is a somewhat dubious honour, not everyone who reaches a certain status needs to be on the list. The number should be enough to ensure business can be performed with no interruptions but not so long that management of the list is impossible and unwieldy where everyone who becomes a manager automatically is added to the list for example.

5. Ensure the right people have access to your list.

This is true of both internal and external sources. Do you know who has your list now and do you know they have the most up to date copy? Having a digitised online version of your lists can help greatly in that respect.

In summary, the lists should be easy to maintain and update, distributed regularly and efficiently and therefore both your counterparts and you are always working from accurate up to date data. A little effort goes a long way to an aspect of your business that can be exploited either internally or externally causing both financial and reputational losses for your organisation.