31st January 2017

PwC: "A new ‘virtual reality’ is creating profound implications for treasury processes, technology and the profession itself"

PwC’s latest global treasury benchmarking report, reveals that the success of the treasury profession is dependent on how well it operates in an increasingly virtual environment.

PwC’s report The ‘virtual reality’ of treasury captures the views of over 220 treasurers and Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) from around the world and shows that only one third of people involved in treasury processes today report directly to the treasurer. Increased outsourcing of back office and payment factory processes and more involvement with local finance teams for exposure reporting create new complexities in implementing regulations, safeguarding liquidity and managing risks.

Commenting on the findings, Sebastian di Paola, Global Corporate Treasury Leader at PwC, says:

“Treasury’s scope continues to expand and should be seen very much as a process rather than a department. Treasury is becoming increasingly virtual and treasurers need to be jacks of all trades by collaborating more with the business, shared services and banks and raising their game in IT security, valuation and financial risk management. As a result, traditional management models may not be as effective as in the past. Instead, a consultative approach, better integration with other business processes and automation will generally be the best strategy.”

Key findings include:

The agendas of the treasurer and the CFO should be better aligned

Although the agendas of the CFO and the treasurer are aligned at a high level, CFOs are urging treasurers to take on responsibilities beyond the textbook definition of treasury, opening up opportunities for treasurers. However, treasurers do not appear to have the same sense of urgency as CFOs on topics like cybersecurity, compliance, working capital and financial risk management, as CFOs mention these 2-3 times more often as top priorities than treasurers do.

True focus on cash flow forecasting is needed

Cash flow forecasting is at the top of the treasury agenda for both CFOs and treasurers. More than 40% of the respondents mention this as a priority and 80% of these people rank it as high or of critical importance. However, there are a number of basic issues that need resolution, including accuracy of data, data mapping and proper tooling, before treasurers can truly benefit from the features that enable proper predictive and scenario analysis.

Treasurers need to take action to safeguard assets with rising cybersecurity threats

Treasury typically ‘owns’ payment infrastructures and bank communication. Both are key business functions and cannot be compromised. With cyber attacks and payment fraud regularly making headlines, treasurers must be vigilant in safeguarding financial assets. It is worrying, therefore, that only 19% of treasurers list cybersecurity as a critical concern. By contrast, 45% of CFOs name cybersecurity as a priority, pointing to a significant misalignment in CFO and treasury agendas in this regard.

Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) will bring tax and treasury closer together

New fiscal legislation means substance and transfer pricing will take centre stage. This may have a material impact on the location of treasury activities, distribution of decision power and configuration of systems. As a result, treasury will need to work more closely with tax to assess the impact and properly prepare their organisations.

Treasurers need the means to make their activities truly resilient and effective

The treasurer’s agenda is dominated by a wide range of high-effort compliance topics such as Know Your Customer (KYC) and accounting changes. In recent years, budgets have been flat and budget outlooks remain stagnant. Many treasurers find it challenging to balance budgets with the effort required to meet compliance requirements and make treasury more effective and resilient. Attractive business cases from increasingly innovative digital solutions may provide at least a partial solution to this conundrum.

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