by François Masquelier, RTL Group Head of Treasury, Corporate Finance & ERM, and Honorary Chairman, EACT
Often the treasurer is viewed as a technician providing a service to the financial department. S/he is considered as a kind of specialist serving the company, at a central level, by performing specific, well-defined tasks. Yet within multinational groups the treasury is becoming increasingly centralised, and structured as a service centre. Today, the majority of groups consider that the treasury should be a centre of expertise, providing a service both to other departments within the finance group and to its subsidiaries. Increasingly companies employ a hyperspecialist technician, who must, however, serve the entire group, offering financial advice and proposing appropriate financial products, along with the relevant accounting procedures. When we speak of service, we cannot escape its quality aspect, or the level of satisfaction of the customers receiving this service. Here the clientele is in-house: in the ‘corporate centre’ or at group affiliate level. Why shouldn’t we take an interest in the satisfaction of customers being served by the treasury? It is this concept the current article seeks to address. If a subsidiary pays a fee to the Group Treasury (GT) for a financial service provided, it is quite normal to seek to determine its level of satisfaction. And what if the affiliate customer is not satisfied? Should we not review and reflect from time to time on what the other party expects from us in order to improve the service and advice we give them?
Traditional structure – types of treasury
To secure our customers’ loyalty we need to be sure that our subsidiaries are happy with the services we provide.
We must consider the most common forms of structuring the treasury department (see table below). Most major groups organise the structure of their treasury department in this way. The current trend is for fully centralised GTs (although some of them are regionalised). They operate as an advanced form of ‘in-house bank’. Lastly, they operate a service centre approach and often invoice their services, mainly for tax purposes.