Journeys to Treasury 2017 - Resilience, Adaptability and Innovation
By Jan Dirk van Beusekom, Executive Director, Advisory, Strategic Marketing & Engagement, Cash Management, BNP Paribas
Now in its second year, industry partners BNP Paribas, SAP, PwC and the EACT are proud to unveil the new edition of the Journeys to Treasury report at this year’s EuroFinance Conference. The 2016 edition was quickly established as an authoritative, thought-provoking and inspiring report in shaping the treasury profession of the future, and the 2017 edition promises a similar response. Now that the Journeys to Treasury concept has been established, we have been able to engage treasurers more directly in the development of the 2017 report compared with 2016. During the EACT Summit held in La Hulpe, Belgium in March 2017, we held an interactive session with event participants which has been instrumental in identifying key themes and treasury priorities.
In 2016, the major focus areas of Journeys to Treasury were i) continued innovation (including discussions around blockchain, fintechs and big data), ii) ‘anytime, anywhere’ treasury (including the impact of mobile banking and real-time payments on treasury) and iii) cybercrime and fraud. A year later, cybercrime and fraud continues to be a priority for every treasury globally, and therefore remains a key theme of this year’s Journeys to Treasury report, while the other priorities have evolved to some extent. While innovation continues to be central to the evolving treasury experience, the focus has shifted. For example, blockchain has the potential to transform many activities related to cash and trade, but its impact is likely to be felt in the medium rather than short term. However, there are growing opportunities in big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning and as such, we have identified data analytics as a key theme for 2017. Finally, treasurers indicated that although flexibility and adaptability was crucial to respond to changing market conditions, this is just as important in order to comply with changing regulations, particularly in an international context.
Journeys to Treasury 2017: Key themes
Data analytics: From data to information
‘Big data’ is not yet high on many treasurers’ agenda, but every organisation acquires a huge volume of data available on a continuous basis, both directly and through third-party partners, such as banks, technology vendors and consultancies. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are increasingly being used to process and analyse large volumes of data quickly and objectively, with companies in many industries now employing highly sophisticated consumer analytics.
This trend is now emerging in treasury, so the question for treasurers is how to turn ‘big data’ into actionable information to help inform decision-making and refine processes. This will be manifested in different ways depending on an organisation’s treasury challenges and priorities, but there is particular value in areas such as cash flow forecasting where timeliness, accuracy and completeness of data continue to pose difficulties. Similarly, a growing number of treasurers are automating routine activities such as FX funding and hedging and daily cash investment.
Three tips on data analytics
Regulation, compliance and adapting to change
The regulatory environment continues to change, and given their international role, treasurers need to understand and comply with diverse regulations across their footprint. Not only is the regulatory burden increasing, but the financial and reputational consequences of non-compliance continue to grow.
Some of these new regulations are specific to treasury, with reporting, policy or hedging implications, but others, such as Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) have important ramifications on organisational structures. Similarly, complying with new rules such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requires considerable collaboration and alignment with other parts of the business. A wide variety of treasury responsibilities will be impacted by GDPR, including:
- lBank account reconciliation: Customer data used for identifying and reconciling incoming payments;
- lBank account management: Personal data of authorised signatories;
- lPayment factories: Vendor information, including addresses, individual and company data and bank account details;
- lPayroll: Employee information including identity, salary and bank account details.