The Journeys to Treasury partnership, comprising BNP Paribas, PwC, SAP and the EACT, marks its fifth year. Once again, this year’s report explores the key themes, priorities and challenges with which treasurers are faced, whether during ‘business as usual’ or more challenging times, as revealed in the results of an EACT Survey of 200 treasury professionals, conducted at the start of the crisis.
The COVID-19 crisis has emphasised the critical role of treasury, and treasurers around the world have stepped up to provide liquidity to their organisations, manage risk and help stabilise supply chains. Their ability to do this has been based on the investment they had already put into skills, organisational resilience, treasury strategies and digital technologies for transparency, analytics and automation, often over many years, as this year’s report explores.
37% reported that while working capital management is a significant priority for treasury, over half (56%) had either no role or responsibility for working capital decision-making.
Traditionally, many treasurers have been involved in working capital only to the extent of managing the outcomes of decisions made by other business functions. As working capital has become more constrained, and treasurers’ role elevated, some treasurers are now engaging more closely with the functions that ‘own’ different elements of working capital and exploring opportunities for working capital enhancement. Francois Masquelier, EACT, comments: “The crisis has emphasised the importance not only of measuring and explaining working capital metrics, but taking positive action to improve, anticipate and respond to different scenarios that will impact them.”
28% of treasurers said that treasury centralisation is still a priority, even after many years.
While treasury centralisation has been a trend for a decade or more, rarely can treasurers say they have ‘completed’ centralisation, particularly in organisations engaged in M&A. Today, centralisation is an organisational ambition for a wide spectrum of companies to enhance cash visibility; manage cash, liquidity and risk on a groupwide basis; create economies of scale; improve operational efficiency and control. In this year’s report, expert Journeys to Treasury representatives shared their insights on the opportunities and common pitfalls of treasury centralisation initiatives.
52% of treasurers are interested in real-time information, and 47% in real-time liquidity, payments and collections.
Digitisation has risen in treasurers’ list of priorities over recent years, but expectations have been raised as new opportunities for real-time and faster payments, and data flows have emerged more strongly. The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated and strengthened the business case both for automated processes, and for faster access to data for operational and strategic decision making.