In this Treasury Snapshot, François Masquelier, Head of Corporate Finance and Treasury, RTL Group, and Honorary Chairman, EACT, gives TMI the inside track on some of his latest projects, including a pilot of SWIFT’s KYC Registry. He also shares his thoughts around developing young talent and preparing treasury for the future.
What is top of your treasury ‘to do’ list right now and why?
I am currently working with RTL and ATEL on a local Luxembourg KYC hyper ledger blockchain solution. We are also participating in a pilot of SWIFT’s KYC Registry and evaluating other solutions such as Bloomberg. KYC is a very hot topic and a real hurdle we all face. Opening a bank account is a challenge that can take weeks or even months.
I am also working on enhancing processes and finding ways to simplify our day-to-day front-office operations and reporting. With a limited team, any method of simplifying processes and reports (providing they don’t jeopardise security) is welcome. As a team, we are engaged in a simplification process and a quest for increased efficiency. Everything involves automation. By increasing automation, we reduce our workload and mitigate risks, while freeing up time for more added-value tasks. It is a very productive approach. I will also finalise our review of the Transfer Pricing (TP) principles and documentation, as well as BEPS compliance after the ATAD 1 & 2 directives are published and incorporated into national law.
What is the most successful project your treasury has undertaken in the past two to three years, and what have the outcomes been?
I think that the treasury dashboarding tool we have implemented and the new required (compliance) reports we have developed are the major projects we have undertaken in the last few years. We have implemented an ETL (Extract Transform Load) system to extract, re-format, match, compile and aggregate financial data. I really like our dashboarding and KPI solution, which is customised for each team member on our PCs. This has been a revolution as we can now gather and consolidate all reports from all sources (including Excel) in one tool – and in any format.
What do you see as the biggest obstacle or risk for your treasury team, and how are you seeking to overcome this?
In general, the major risk is the lack of human resources with the appropriate skills. We were under pressure to do more with less over the course of a year, in pursuit of so-called ‘improved productivity’. It is fair to say that we are now more productive than ever, but the complexity of our job and the quantity of data make our lives more difficult. To hire the right young talent with the necessary IT skills is a challenge – but also a prerequisite if we are to keep pace with the constant and rapid evolution of the treasury function. And we need to be able to adapt our teams to future needs.
Looking at the new technology emerging in treasury, what do you think could have the biggest impact and why?
All new technologies have an impact on our day-to-day tasks: data analytics is the most important one in my opinion. I think that AI is promising but not yet mature. The hyper ledger (DLT – distributed ledger technology) is obviously promising too, for the KYC Registry for example, and trade finance. But the main thing is a better standardisation of formats.
How are business demands on your treasury function changing, and what could this mean for your treasury strategy and/or organisation?
The business demands are changing with more B2C operations and new acquisitions being made by the group. For example, by offering new methods of payments to affiliates we can give them a potential advantage over their competitors and help them to better understand their operations. By anticipating their needs, we can demonstrate what added-value we can generate. It is challenging, but it will enable us to re-position treasury and promote our function across the whole enterprise.
What is the best piece of career advice and/or life advice you have ever been given?
One of my friends told me that you should always find a mentor or two to give you advice and guide your career. Another piece of advice I wish I had received when I was younger is to always to develop, maintain and preserve your network. I have a great network of friends, peers, suppliers and colleagues that I cherish. The advice I always give to my interns and to young talent is to never forget to remain employable and to read and learn about treasury. I’m surprised to find that I still enjoy discovering new techniques and solutions. Such continuing enjoyment is fantastic!