A Best Practice Approach to Building a Treasury Function
by Ali Alnasri, Head of Treasury, Abu Dhabi Airports Company
Although Abu Dhabi Airports was founded in 2006, it was only in 2012 that we set up a treasury function, which was the year that I joined. Previously, I had been a Vice President in the Corporate Banking of the National Bank of Abu Dhabi with a team of seven people. Together, we had responsibility for a great portfolio of corporate customers and high net worth individuals. Joining Abu Dhabi Airports in 2012 was an exciting proposition, not least because of the opportunity to set up a treasury department from scratch. As we did not need to take into account legacy policies, processes and technology, we could design our treasury infrastructure taking into account industry best practices in security and automation.
The decision to set up a treasury function was largely the result of a recommendation made by Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB), one of Abu Dhabi Airports’ relationship banks. ADCB provided an analysis of the reasons why Abu Dhabi Airports needed to set up a specialist treasury function, and the benefits of doing so. This included analysis based on their knowledge of our business and of the wider UAE market, their experiences of working with other large complex organisations, and data from a 2010 study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers UK. This was the start of a wider relationship with ADCB which has since gone from strength to strength.
Having joined Abu Dhabi Airports in 2012, and built a small team, one of the most important early tasks was to rationalise the group’s bank accounts. Although Abu Dhabi Airports itself had only existed since 2006, its legacy businesses had been in operation since the 1970s, and the group had built up a vast number of accounts. Since establishing a dedicated treasury function, we have been able to reduce this number by 60% and established a policy both for setting up new accounts and managing existing accounts, such as authorised signatories.
In addition to rationalising our accounts to a manageable level, we needed to ensure visibility and control over cash held in each of these accounts. We therefore set up electronic banking with each of the relevant banks to cover all of our bank accounts, therefore enabling us to monitor our cash on a daily basis.