Treasury Leaders SummitTreasury Leaders Summit: the highlights

Treasury Leaders Summit: the highlights

Risk, innovation, technology and best practice approaches to the many challenges facing treasurers were the key topics on the agenda at this year's Treasury Leaders Summit.

This year’s Treasury Leaders Summit kicked off with a keynote panel discussion, ‘Treasury Transformation: Remaining Agile and Anticipating Change in an Evolving Market’. During the session, treasurers from Huawei, Ted Baker and ABB, along with speakers from Deutsche Bank and the IGTA, discussed the key changes they have seen in treasury over the past half-decade – and suggested the best ways of tackling them. While some panellists described blockchain technology as among the biggest disruptive forces in treasury, others saw more traditional areas such as day-to-day cash and liquidity management as the prime areas that are being affected by technological change and broad macroeconomic instability.

Following this, a roundtable session between treasurers from a range of high-profile companies focused on the challenges treasurers face within organizations themselves. The delegates discussed how these can include departments such as IT encroaching on strategic decision-making; a lack of support from senior management; and shifting short-term goals and priorities making long-term planning difficult. They also offered advice around best practice approaches, and discussed the importance of knowledge-sharing between treasurers.

In the Treasury Tech Village on Day 1, the four finalists in the Treasury Innovator Award competition – Akoni, BeScord, CheckRisk and TreasurySpring – pitched their ideas in front of a live audience. This energetic session gave the audience an opportunity to grill the contenders about their business models and their plans for the future, while the three judges ruminated over who would walk away with the big prize.

The afternoon’s keynote panel discussion, ‘Perfect Match: Bank Relationship Management’, involved treasurers from Roche and Smith & Nephew, as well as the managing director and head of corporate cash at Deutsche Bank. The three panellists discussed how the relationship between corporates and banks has evolved over the past few years, the advent of fintechs in the banking space, the challenges and opportunities presented by developments such as Open Banking, and how the fundamentals of trust, personal relationships and loyalty still underpin the bank-corporate structure.

Through the fog

Day 2 began with a fascinating keynote address from Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, whose speech ‘Through the Fog: What Really Matters in the Age of Uncertainty’ took a whistle-stop tour through the global issues facing businesses today, from changing employment demographics to climate change; and from rising economic protectionism and political populism in the US and elsewhere to the risks posed by Brexit in the UK and across the rest of Europe.

Among the roundtables that followed was a group discussion on Brexit, in which treasurers expressed their concerns over the uncertainty surrounding the issue, and discussed how their organizations are preparing to face the challenges that the UK’s withdrawal from the EU is likely to bring.

In the ‘Ask the Hacker’ panel discussion on the morning of Day 2, speakers discussed not only the importance of cybersecurity and regulatory compliance around data, but also ways in which employees can be ‘hacked’ – and how this poses a significant challenge for any organization that handles data and oversees large sums of money.

Back in the Treasury Tech Village, the finalists for the Treasury Innovator Award sat down for a discussion about their own experiences in fintech, as well as the broader trends that are currently occurring on the interface of finance and technology.

The theme of risk, opportunity and uncertainty continued in the afternoon’s panel discussion, ‘Risk Management and Funding – Securing and Optimising Liquidity in Uncertain Times’. Guests from the London Stock Exchange, Orange, Diageo and Instimatch went through the key risks they face in their day-to-day roles, looked at some of the emerging areas of risk that affect treasurers and their wider organizations – for example climate change and reputational risk – and talked about some of the best ways they have found of mitigating risk while maintaining cash flow and liquidity at their companies.

Day 2 closed with an uplifting  motivational address on the importance of ‘Confidence and Resilience’ in treasury, followed by the announcement of the winner of the Treasury Innovator Award 2018: risk assessment platform CheckRisk.

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