Part of our Treasury Snapshot series: a collection of quickfire interviews with corporate treasurers.
In this Treasury Snapshot, Royston Da Costa, Assistant Group Treasurer at Ferguson, gives TMI the inside track on some of his latest projects, including the successful roll-out of a cloud-based TMS. He also outlines the immediate challenges his team faces and reveals the one tool that would make his professional life a little easier…
What is on your top treasury ‘to do' list right now and why?
Controls and compliance are a high priority for the group, therefore the roll-out of the new TMS, which is cloud based and uses the software as a service (SaaS) system to realise efficiencies and improve automation is currently top of my agenda.
How do you see the role of your treasury evolving in the future – and what does this mean for your personal role?
I consider the treasury role to be that of a key stakeholder and partner of the business. The team will have a greater involvement in technology and will be driver of certain projects.
We will also be increasingly involved in the local business, across various functions, and will have more collaboration with banks, vendors and fintechs. Expanding the department's interest into these areas will mean more exposure for me and my role as Assistant Group Treasurer.
What is the most successful project your treasury has undertaken in the past two to three years, and what have the outcomes been?
Without doubt, this would be the implementation of our cloud-based TMS and the list of outcomes is substantial. The system is completely web-based using SaaS and there are no ActiveX controls and neither are Java applets required. The project was easy to roll out to other users with no additional costs in that just a web browser connection was required.
The main quantitative cost saving/benefit is the lower annual maintenance costs. Additionally, this will provide the treasury department with a strong support system that will develop with the business and market conditions. It offers potential for greater straight-through processing and improved controls. It also has the capability to be applied across the group facilitating greater visibility, improved communications and strengthening relationships with the business units.
And the integration ability of our TMS is excellent. It has fully integrated regulatory reporting capability under European Market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR). The integrated internal dealing platform provides enhanced, straight-through processing to the subsidiaries. And last, but by no means least, the integrated SWIFT connectivity – straight-through processing for payments replaces the BMG solution for collating MT940s (cash visibility).
The mobile app enables us to approve treasury payments securely and remotely.
Hedge accounting is currently outsourced to Chatham Financial, one of BELLIN's partners.
If you could devote more time to a specific project or priority in treasury right now, what would it be and why?
I am extremely keen to review artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain to explore and identify the advantages they would offer to the treasury team and to the wider business. I also want to explore the benefits AI could bring to using big data and how this would improve our internal ability to forecast.
Is there one tool (apart from a crystal ball) that would make your job that bit easier?
Yes – SWIFT gpi – to finally achieve visibility and speed of cross-border payments! I would also include biometric authentication to improve controls and security against cyber-fraud.
Looking at the new technology emerging in treasury, what do you think could have the biggest impact and why?
Without a doubt, I would say blockchain because of its:
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Cost savings
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â STP
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Security
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Speed
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Scalability
Followed closely by AI.
What do you think the top challenge(s) for your treasury will be over the next two to three years? How are you preparing for this?
We will be continuing on our journey of automation throughout the group. There will be a continual improvement of awareness among my colleagues and peers regarding cybercrime.
We must prepare for further disruption, e.g. AI, and continue to monitor and keep up to date with technology developments.
What would you like your main achievement over the next three to five years to be – both as a treasury function and in your personal role?
As a treasury function (from a technology perspective), I would like us to be recognised as a key stakeholder by the business for any treasury technology requirements they have. . As for me, I would like the business to not only use my expertise in treasury technology, but to also use me Â as a facilitator, providing the link between the treasury technology provider(s) and their treasury technology requirements.
How do you like to spend your time when you're not at work?
I like visiting National Trust sites and going for long walks with my wife . I also enjoy reading and watching natural history documentaries.
If you weren't in treasury, what would be your ideal job?
I would be a writer.