The Austrian Corporate Treasury Association (ACTA) was formally established at the end of 2017 and began recruiting members in January last year – but its roots go back much further. A loose-knit network of treasurers had existed for some 20 years, and during recent years I was frequently asked at conferences and events why we in Austria had no incorporated national treasury association like those of almost all of our European neighbours. I began to discuss this possibility with several members of the European Association of Corporate Treasurers (EACT) such as Jean-Marc Servat, its Honorary President, François Masquelier, and some people in the National Associations, and decided to give it a shot.
The first task was draw up a list of the treasurers who had already been meeting informally and add those of us who would be interested to join. I compared notes with some of my colleagues who had in the past organised and hosted gatherings and events, and together we compiled a comprehensive treasury directory and sounded them out as to their interest in setting up an association. I contacted a number who offered active support and in December 2017 some 40 treasurers held an inaugural meeting to discuss how an Austrian association might be incorporated, who would qualify as members, what fees would be appropriate and where and how often we should meet. I was firmly of the opinion that it was vital that Austria, as a country, should have a voice in the increasingly important sphere of financial regulations and international treasury matters and this would be far more powerful and likely to be heard if we spoke through an association.
My fellow treasurers agreed whole-heartedly and once ACTA was set up and began recruiting, our membership grew at an incredibly rapid pace. We were greatly encouraged in our endeavours by several other treasury associations, those of Belgium, Hungary and Germany among many others. Special thanks go to my friends Robin Page at Treasury Management International and his team who greatly helped us in the early days, and Claus Schneider at Wolf Theiss who supports us in legal formalities. Regulations like the recent data protection rules do not make it easier to administer and run an association.
Within an astonishingly short time we have achieved a membership of over 180 individuals, representing over 60 corporates large, medium-sized and small, giving us a really good basis for a fruitful exchange of views and experiences among corporate treasury professionals from a wide range of different industries and sectors. We decided to have both company members and individual members, all of whom have voting rights. Once we had reached what we considered to be a ‘critical mass’ of roughly 120 corporate members, we opened associate membership to banks, service providers, law firms and so on who are active in the treasury area.