Cash & Liquidity ManagementCash ManagementTreasurers witnessing the coming together of man and machine

Treasurers witnessing the coming together of man and machine

According to annual study by PwC, treasurers are unlocking value for their respective organisation by setting priorities on digital transformation

Over 60% of treasurers see the potential in data analytics, RPA, and AI in the next two to three years, whereas 84% of cited currency risk as a financial risk managed by Treasury, according to PwC’s 2019 Global Treasury Benchmarking Study.

According to the survey of over 230 treasury and finance executives across 21 industries in 37 countries, while cash flow forecasting, funding, capital structure and currency risk remain to be the main priorities of treasurers, their fundamental question is – how do we use technology to solve old problems and tackle new ones?

The themes for this year’s Global Treasury Benchmarking Study were around digital adoption, payment fraud and cyber risk, workforce of the future, balance sheet management, cash and banking, and financial risk management.

Other highlights from the study included:

  • 61% see a role for artificial intelligence to support exposure forecasting
  • 55% of treasurers indicate they have an oversight role for payment fraud risk in their organisation
  • 59% of participants consider technological affinity as one of the key attributes of a treasurer
  • 64% of respondents noted they have an increased focus on working capital management
  • 55% of respondents said that the Group treasurer is responsible for managing payment fraud risk
  • Beyond functional expertise, 73% indicated strategic thinking as a sought-after attribute in treasurers
  • The importance of capital structure is rising, moving to 4th on the respondent’s agenda
  • Only 30% consider their banking strategy and wallet sharing when allocating their business

Call for action

Based on the survey results, there are a few action points for the treasurers and areas of improvement.

  1. For example, treasurers must collaborate across functions to highlight cyber threats to enhance cybersecurity defence since 56% of the respondents said that the group treasurer is responsible for managing payment fraud risk.
  2. Treasurers must keep digital capabilities as a priority while making hiring decisions. The current roles within corporate treasuries can be redefined with the ones that will provide data driven insights and harness technology to reduce manual efforts.
  3. Treasurers need to make sure they deliver balance sheet management by improving cash flows, supporting working capital initiatives and improving long term flexibility.
  4. A contingency plan needs to be in place by the treasurers, for the situation where the banks are not transparent about the pricing and/or they not providing enough evidence of long-term support.
  5. Additionally, treasurers need to conduct systematic and regular quantitative and qualitative reviews of their bank relationships as a proactive measure for a balanced bank relationship.

Treasury teams are evolving

Eric Cohen, Principal, PwC United States said: “The treasury function is continuously evolving. Now more than ever, embracing the digital transformation and building a workforce for the future are paramount for success. By taking steps to digitally upskill, treasurers and their teams are better equipped to support their current and expanding scope of responsibilities, as well the strategic vision for the company at large.”

Sebastian di Paola, Corporate Treasury Solutions, Global and Europe – PwC Switzerland added: “Digital Treasury is here today, and Treasury functions are now tasked with building digital ecosystems where new technology can help solve old and new problems alike. AI, RPA and wide variety of Fintech solutions have found their way into the Treasury space, while data continues to be unlocked to help support real-time financial decisions.

The survey report acknowledges that to support the business in addressing today’s challenges and to seize the tremendous opportunity presented by new technologies, treasury teams are evolving in mindset and capability.

Digital treasury with intelligent automation is enabling treasury organizations to drive cost out of a wide range of processes, without reinventing their business model or redesigning their IT infrastructure.

PwC’s 2019 Global Treasury Benchmarking Study can be downloaded here.

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