by Carole Berndt, Head of Global Treasury Solutions, EMEABank of America Merrill Lynch
As 2011 passes with alarming speed, it is worth pausing to reflect on the year so far and what the remaining months are likely to bring. Natural disasters in New Zealand and Japan dominated the first quarter of the year, reminding us that while there are many things from which we can protect ourselves and our businesses, there are some things that, sadly, we cannot. However, despite the tragedies that we all mourn, 2011 has also brought a renewed sense of optimism amongst the business community, with a focus on rebuilding, growing and investing.
The financial landscape for corporate treasurers no longer resembles pre-crisis days, and we recognise that the new environment we are creating together will not resemble those years gone by. Amongst the corporate community, board members are now astutely aware of the contribution that treasury makes to the business. This has enabled treasurers to take on greater responsibility and invest in projects that have perhaps been on the ‘to do’ list for some time, but which may have lacked a senior management mandate. Consequently, transformation and optimisation projects amongst our corporate clients are at an all-time high. Not only is the number of such initiatives burgeoning, but the type of projects has also changed since the crisis. Until 2008, most corporate activity in which we were engaged was transaction and price-driven. Today, however, information and education are primary considerations. Treasurers want to understand new developments and evolving trends in the market, and subsequently take advantage of innovative tools and processes that enable them to optimise their efficiency and performance. No longer can banks simply deliver transaction services, they now need to be advisers to their clients and implementers of relevant technology and solutions that help reduce counterparty, liquidity and operational risk, achieve efficiencies and enhance business performance.