The Future of Treasury
The EACT Summit featured an expert panel who discussed some of the changes in treasury over recent years, and how issues such as digitisation could impact on the role of treasury in the future.
Maciej Müldner, Finance Director, Skanska Property Poland
What do you see as the biggest changes in corporate treasury over the past five years?
Pierre Fersztand, BNP Paribas
I would note three changes: the increasing role of the treasurer; the importance of compliance, and the opportunities presented by technology. The treasury role has changed since the global financial crisis: the search for liquidity intensified and cash became king. More recently, we have seen considerable uncertainty in interest rates, including negative rates. Treasurers have played a critical role in managing the impact of these developments, and are engaging with the business more actively than ever to help manage the company’s liquidity and risk requirements. The role of the banker has also increased, with greater recognition of the value of long-term partnerships, particularly at a time when some banks are exiting certain products or geographies.
The second change is regulation. While it may seem a long time ago now, the introduction of SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) was a major initiative, creating a huge migration burden for some corporations. At the same time, it has created significant opportunities for centralisation and rationalisation, and many are still at the start of this journey. Regulatory compliance is also becoming a more important, and more challenging area, and both banks and corporate treasurers are tasked to manage the regulatory burden as consistently and cost-effectively as possible.
While regulation may pose challenges, technology is creating opportunities, such as the growth of eCommerce and mCommerce, which implies major changes in the way that companies interact with their customers. Furthermore, within treasury itself, the past five years has seen a major increase in the potential for increased centralisation, rationalisation and efficiency, improved connectivity and standardisation and better liquidity planning and forecasting. However, with new opportunity comes new risks, particularly with the increase in fraud and cybercrime, which will be a major challenge for the months and years ahead.
John Colleemallay, Dassault Systèmes
I would add just one thing to the excellent points that Pierre has raised, in particular around the role of the treasurer. Treasury is becoming a real business partner to senior management and the wider business, and more closely involved in strategic decision-making. To fulfil this role effectively, treasury needs to be more efficient, with rapid access to complete, accurate information on which to base decisions. As a technology company, this has been an important focus for us: harmonising our systems and processes for example, and securing our payment flows, providing better support overall to our internal and external clients.