Benny Koh, managing director at Deloitte & Touche, led polls on key practices in treasury and moderated a discussion on mandates for treasuries.
In the first poll, 57% of respondents said the strategic mandate of the treasury team is cash and liquidity management, while only 20% said it is being a strategic advisor to the business
Edwin Tey, vice president, treasury at Global Logistics Properties, is in the majority, saying his role is “back to basics with funding, cash visibility and liquidity management.”
Similarly, Aron Akesson, regional treasurer for Carlsberg, says his core function is to “make sure we have enough money but not too much,” and it’s about “soaking up cash balances. We’re getting more involved into the business and supporting working capital, supplier financing.”
On the other hand, Brenda Oh, treasurer for GE Energy Asia, says treasury’s mandate is portfolio transformation, growth, and simplification, as the company shifts from a broad conglomerate to a focused infrastructure provider. Oh said that simplification is a key goal, even though GE’s treasury organization has 750 people, so they have centers of excellence in key countries and are targeting moving 65 percent of their work into the company’s five shared service centers.
The top strategic challenge inhibiting treasury organizations from delivering their mandate, 54% of respondents said in another poll, is inadequate treasury systems infrastructure. Key challenges include foreign exchange impacting liquidity and reducing working capital, and greater involvement in emerging markets. While cyberrisk may be a concern, many treasurers do as Oh does and “leave that to the IT guys.”
Commenting on the responses, Tey says one of his biggest challenges is recruiting treasury professionals, while Akesson says the biggest challenge is covering 13 countries and getting action in the local countries.
Asked for a piece of advice for other treasurers, Tey believes the key is getting the policy right, and having risk mitigation and running it through senior management.
Oh agrees that, first, “you must get your basics right, get the policies there.” Then, treasury should be within the business, as local knowledge is important.
Finally, Akesson says that treasury should focusing on the low-hanging fruit, managing the capital structure and supplier financing, and getting top level buy-in.
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