Treasury Snapshot: An interview with Ian Pass, Treasury & Risk Manager, Willis Towers Watson


Part of our Treasury Snapshot series: a collection of quickfire interviews with corporate treasurers.

What is top of your treasury to-do list right now and why? 

Reviewing and enhancing our credit risk management policies and processes, especially since post-merger we are consolidating banking partners. The trade-off between operational efficiency and credit risk when consolidating business partners has been a focus from a risk management perspective. Then there are the derivatives we use for hedging that create credit exposures and our investment activity of short-term fiduciary cash where diversification is favoured. We need a model that can incorporate all credit risk per each counterparty while also aligning to firm objectives. Foreign exchange risk management is a close second for me as we are working a different forecasting method for our longer-term exposures.

What achievement are you most proud of during your treasury career so far? 

This will definitely make me sound like a nerd, but here goes nothing! I completed an analysis on the cost and benefit of hedging using forwards out to three years versus just two especially given that most banks are charging CVA and other charges for the increased they are taking on with long-term derivatives. We used data from our trading system as well as some market data to model out the volatility dampening per cost unit. I did some regressions and excel magic to complete the analysis and it was very satisfying to graph the final results where you have a clear answer. This type of data driven decision making is what draws me to Treasury because we do not just have to make these types of decisions on a quarterly schedule, we are doing cost benefit assessments daily to manage risks and steer the firm from trouble.

Is there one tool (apart from a crystal ball) that would make your job that bit easier?

A data connection between the Treasury Management System and the other finance systems. The ledger would provide real time balance sheet exposures and help with back-testing forecasts. The planning system could load in future exposures in real time. One can dream right?

What is the best piece of career and/or life advice you've ever been given? 

You work to live, not live to work. For me it's easy to get caught up and find myself giving too much to my job and sacrifice other parts of my life to do so. This has helped me to remind myself that at the end of the day what really matters is being able to enjoy life and unplug from time to time. Balance is key especially in a high stress job like treasury.

When you're not working, how do you like to spend your time?

I am pretty active in both running and yoga. I have done a half marathon and by the time this publishes I will have completed my second in Copenhagen. I try to average 30km per week and am part of a running club in London. It really helps with motivation, especially during the cold and dark months ahead! I also love doing yoga and am a registered yoga teacher. It keeps me grounded and gives me tools to better manage stress on a day to day basis. Yoga has helped me through a lot of difficult times in my life and I want to share that with others as a teacher. Sure, being able to get into those crazy poses is satisfying, but it's all about clearing your mind.

I also love to travel and try to go someplace new once every other month. After moving over from the United States to the United Kingdom, I was introduced to affordable airfare – a real game changer for a frequent traveller! I was able to visit six countries in my first and am looking forward to what the next year holds. I already have three planned out with one more in the pipeline.