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What is the role of corporate treasury? Was it ready for the pandemic?

When you attract (virtually) over 500 corporate treasury geeks and ask them to talk/muse about cash and treasury management you are bound to get some interesting questions and lessons. 

The ACT 2021 conference on Cash Management, again sponsored by Barclays, certainly generated many.

Questions

Some of the important questions the conference generated were:

  • What is the role of corporate treasury today and in the future?
    • In the closing session, the panelists all agreed that the role of treasury has not changed over the last 10 years. It is still to ensure full cash visibility, and carryout pooling and forecasting
    • But then why, at the start of the pandemic, were there so many emergency cash flow forecasting projects to develop new and more detailed forecasts? Did corporate treasury take its eye off the ball in the last decade? Forgot the fundamentals?
  • Why was there so little scenario forecasting? 
    • It is now understood how vital cashflow scenario planning is now, but it was vital in 2010. Was it just that corporate treasury didn’t realize and senior management didn’t realize?
    • The impact of climate change will be much greater, how much scenario planning are corporate treasury doing on this much greater problem?
  • Why is corporate treasury not doing more to fight climate change?
    • It is all very well saying there are challenges with greenwashing, transparency, and lack of standards, but what we need is ALL companies and groups to focus their whole operation on reducing their impact on the climate, e.g.
      • Apple has committed to be 100 percent carbon neutral for its supply chain and products by 2030 (I believe them)
      • BP CEO declared “the company's intentions to achieve "net-zero" carbon emissions by 2050, see. (Not sure about this, but at least he is trying. It’s a start.)
    • What is your company doing?
    • What is the Association of Corporate Treasurers doing?
  • When will there be no discrepancies between payment systems in countries worldwide?
    • Joanna Falthorpe, Treasury Manager, Save the Children International, believes there will always be ‘differences’
  • Are there any business opportunities/possibilities opening up from Central Bank Digital Currencies?
    • BofE’s Shiv Chowla in his excellent talk showed that there will be many, see slide below:
      • Source & Copyright©2020 - BofE
  • Will the transition from LIBOR be easy?
    • No, but you do need to talk to many of your banks to work out what to do.

  • CTMfile take: Is this conference worth repeating next year? Definitely, particularly with more emphasis on fighting climate change and scenario planning in cash flow forecasting and liquidity management.

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