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COVID-19 crisis has pushed treasury to the forefront

The COVID-19 crisis has underscored the importance of treasury’s role in the organisation, according to the 2020 AFP Strategic Role of Treasury Survey, supported by Marsh & McLennan.

Fully 83% of treasury professionals said they believe there has been a significantly greater or greater value assigned to treasury throughout the COVID-19 crisis. As organisations have required solutions and answers to managing liquidity and other challenging cash management issues, they have looked to treasury for resolution.   

“Organisations are placing a greater emphasis on liquidity and cash management during the COVID-19 crisis than they have over the past three years,” said Jim Kaitz, president and chief executive of AFP. “Treasury is the gatekeeper of those areas. Much like they did during the global financial crisis, companies are trusting the treasury function to provide guidance amid unprecedented circumstances.”

During the pandemic, treasury leaders appear to be falling short in their communication skills. Respondents believe leaders will continue to lack the requisite communication skills over the next three years. The survey also found that significant competency gaps exist for treasury teams in the areas of prioritisation and organisation, communication, and analytical skills.

Future of treasury

Looking ahead, two-thirds of respondents (68%) believe the perceived value of the treasury function will continue to be of greater or significantly greater value to the organisation. Despite the slight drop-off, this data suggests that the treasury function will continue to play a prominent strategic role once the crisis ends.

Two-thirds of treasury professionals believe that in the next three years, treasury-specific technology will be critical or very critical to the success of treasury organisations. Even more (70%) treasury professionals agree that their organisations will be using treasury-specific technology to achieve objectives.

“The COVID-19 crisis has presented treasurers with a unique opportunity to take a leadership position within their organisations,” said Richard Smith-Bingham, executive director of Insights at Marsh & McLennan Advantage. “C-Suite executives are increasingly looking to them to provide counsel on a range of decisions beyond finance and across the broader context of employees, customers, and suppliers for both the near and the long term.” 

The survey also found that two-thirds of organisations have fewer than 10 staff working in their treasury department. As expected, the higher the revenue of the organisation, the more treasury staff they have. The results were drawn from nearly 260 treasury and finance executives. 

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