AFTE, the French association of corporate treasurers, held its annual conference (the “Journées de l’AFTE”) on 15-16 November 2022 at the Palais Brongniart, the former stock exchange building in the heart of Paris.
This year again the conference was extremely successful, gathering a record level of close to 1,600 attendees and 70 partners, banks and solutions providers.
The motto of the conference was “the expanding world of treasurers” highlighting that treasurers, as true business partners, are increasingly involved in a variety of topics well beyond the mere technicalities of treasury.
Some time ago, treasurers would have looked at marketing as a distant field. Today, the “buy now pay later” promise, as well as a variety of innovative payment techniques, are becoming powerful tools to retain and attract customers – meaning that treasurers end up speaking with colleagues in sales and marketing more often than not. As energy prices soar and interest rates increase rapidly, treasurers are called in by operations teams to find ways to mitigate inflation and secure liquidity for their companies.
ESG is no more an item reserved for the board agenda or just the priority of corporate responsibility departments. With ESG criteria increasingly making their way into bond and bank financing, treasurers are getting familiar with concepts such as ‘scope 3 emissions’ or ‘double materiality’ while ESG teams have discovered the beauty of negotiating a loan documentation with a bank pool.
As sanctions became a hot topic in the wake of the Ukraine conflict, compliance suddenly was much more than a mundane administrative task of back office teams and pushed treasurers and legal into a daily dialogue. Similarly, beyond being experts at numbers, treasurers are working hand in hand with IT to leverage data to better analyse, anticipate and mitigate risks.
In addition to the 20 workshops and roundtables gathering 70 speakers over the two-day conference that addressed all these topics and more, conference attendees also had the privilege to hear the views of inspiring keynote speakers. Nicolas Théry, chair of Credit Mutuel banking group managed to convince attendees that banks would not easily be replaced by algorithms – if they continue to adapt! Marie-Christine Coisne-Roquette, chair of Sonepar shared the success story of her family-owned company that she transformed into a €25bn global giant in just a few decades. Cécile Béliot, CEO of food company Bel, explained why she now gives the same weight to financial and ESG criteria in managing the company and Marie-Amélie Le Fur, a London Paralympics gold medallist and chair of the French Paralympic Committee, gave the audience a great testimonial in resilience and leadership.
Indeed the world of treasurers is expanding by the day, a world that treasurers contribute to define and build in constant dialogue and cooperation with all stakeholders.