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Harnessing Innovation to Enable Internationalisation

An Interview with Philippe Messager, President, Association Française des Trésoriers d’Entreprise (AFTE)

Attracting 1,100 treasury professionals, AFTE’s annual conference takes place on 18-19 November 2014 at the Palais Brongniart, Paris. As in previous years, the conference is the flagship event for the treasury community in France, with an impressive line-up of speakers and 55 partner organisations, including leading banks, fund managers and technology vendors. Ahead of the event, Helen Sanders, Editor, talks to Philippe Messager, President of AFTE, about some of the conference themes, and wider treasury priorities in France.

What are the major themes of the 2014 AFTE Conference?

The themes of this year’s event are Internationalisation and Innovation, which together sum up the priorities, challenges and opportunities of the corporate treasury community today. With negligible growth in traditional markets such as the Eurozone, companies of all sizes are exploring new regions in their pursuit of growth, and therefore need to explore new approaches to managing cash and liquidity, financing, foreign exchange, market and credit risk. On the first day of the conference, for example, we have sessions on emerging markets, and specific workshops on Africa and China.

In this fast-changing environment, treasurers are constantly challenging themselves – and their partner banks and vendors – to find better ways of managing the demands of internationalisation. This is a major reason why treasurers attend the conference: to share, discuss and discover ways to improve operational and financial efficiency and control. Innovation is therefore a theme closely linked to internationalisation. This does not simply involve finding new gadgets or techniques: it is about the constant search for ways to do things better, using existing tools and leveraging partner relationships more effectively. Innovation is not simply a ‘nice to have’, it is essential to keep up with, let alone surpass, the competition. For example, treasurers are working with partners to find ways to improve processes and integrate them more closely to enhance working capital. Meanwhile, they are exploring the debt markets to identify suitable funding solutions given market conditions and the needs of the business.