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As corporate treasury moves to centre of business: What keeps treasurers awake at night?

ACT’s latest excellent annual survey of The Business of Treasury 2021 shows the tensions and contradictions in corporate treasury today. As expected, the survey, of 180 corporate treasurers worldwide, showed that:

  • the number one priority (demanded by their CFOs and boards) is still on managing capital and liquidity
  • corporate treasurers felt that their leadership skills need work
  • increased level of strategic thinking and advice is still needed, as the role of the corporate treasury department has become more visible and acknowledged
  • the pandemic has bolstered trust among treasurers and teams.

However, the review of what keeps treasures awake at night had some real surprises.

What keeps treasurers awake at night?

This inevitable question showed:

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Although the key drivers and demands from their CFOs and boards on corporate treasury are for managing capital and liquidity, the four main topics that worried corporate treasurers were:

  • recruitment/staffing/HR/workload/people management
  • automation/technology
  • regulation/compliance
  • geopolitical risks including COVID-19.

People management and automation

Recruitment and staff management is becoming more important as the size of corporate treasury departments declines and the level of automation increases, so now a key issue in corporate treasury is “How to manage as the corporate treasury department becomes more and more automated.”

Regulation/compliance and geopolitical risks

These two concerns show how many corporate treasurers today are thinking as much about business strategy and survival as they are about the intricacies of corporate treasury.

No challenges??**

Disturbingly, nearly 30% of corporate treasurers reported that they “had no challenges”. Maybe this was the most boring survey ever and corporate treasurers just ticked the ‘No challenges’ box to finish the survey - which I doubt. Or is there a much more serious lack of understanding of the wider aspects of corporate treasurer’s responsibilities and role in the profession?


CTMfile take: Great and, in some ways, a disturbing report from the ACT, describing a vibrant corporate treasury profession with several major problems to overcome in the next 2-3 years, e.g. how to manage the increasing level of automation and still understand what is happening and at the same time retain control? Also, what did the corporate treasurers really mean when they said they had ‘No challenges’? This report is worth reading and pondering.

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