BankingCorporate to Bank RelationshipsTreasury teams of the future will need new tech and skills

Treasury teams of the future will need new tech and skills

An open-mindset and diverse skills are key in an evolving treasury function

Beyond the treasury department’s usual responsibility of watching cash flow and keeping the company liquid, treasurers should also be cognizant of the latest tech trends.

“It’s important that Treasury have a finger on the pulse of emerging trends in the marketplace, especially related to financial technologies,” said Eli Brown, VP of cash management at UPS, in a conversation with The Global Treasurer in partnership with Standard Chartered.

“If we hear of new technologies or payment methods, we should leverage our internal partnerships to understand what that means for the business. We should also leverage our external partnerships to find out how can we actually make those things materialise.”

A lot of new tech offerings are targeted towards streamlining the treasury department from faster/ automated payments to real-time visibility of accounts. By digitalising much of the data, the role of treasury will become less clerical and more analytical, said Fred Schacknies, treasurer at TechnipFMC.

“[We’re] transforming from an environment of managing data, which all of us do every single day right now, to getting through that, where the managing of the data is in the background. The focus of our day-to-day jobs, at least for a majority of the [treasury department] is around answering analytical questions.”

Brown has been seeing similar trends, with technology centralising more of the inputs, leading to less administration within treasury.

“[Tech] will hook into all of the different banking partners or a very large percentage of the banking partners we use,” he said. “They’ll be fewer touch points for our treasury team to manage, leveraging things such as APIs to connect to all of those.”

The right skills

However, with new technology changing the way the treasury department will function, having diverse talent will be even more crucial, said Karen Hom, managing director of Transaction Banking at Standard Chartered.

“Understanding tech will become an essential skill,” said Schacknies.

The importance of having diverse talents can clear support

“Digitalisation and automation are absolutely key to what we do. It has got to the point where they are sort of necessary job skills on a resume for anybody working in finance and certainly in treasury.”

While traditional treasury skills like knowledge of FX and cash management will remain indispensable, understanding how best to use new types of data will help treasurers be more effective at carrying out those responsibilities.

“What’s become clear is not only do you need to know how to do treasury, you absolutely need to know how to do data, how to do information,” Shacknies said.

“If you can understand the details of the data and understand the big picture of how the different processes fit together, then you’ll be much more effective in actually doing what treasury does.”

As economies in North America and Western Europe begin to look to a post-pandemic world, tapping into new data will be crucial as the pandemic has changed the way businesses and consumers behave.

“There are really no knowns that are consistent in our operating environment,” Brown said. “Past things where we saw certain changes in macro factors that would then materialise a certain way for cash or for other aspects of the Treasury, those relationships have broken down.”

Given how dynamics things, Browns said it was “probably the most fun time to work in treasury” but added, “It’s a very challenging time as well, because you can’t lean on the history that you’ve built up over time.”

Listen to the Eli Brown and Fred Schacknies’ full conversation here

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