The lack of volatility is worrying in itself
Our Pre-Forum Survey found that market volatility is currently the external challenge that treasurers are most likely to be worried about. That might seem surprising, given that volatility in most financial markets is exceptionally low right now, but delegates to the Forum argued that this was in itself concerning: low levels of volatility do not appear to correspond with the realities of the marketplace today and the wider political and macro-economic backdrop. In which case, predicting future volatility is significantly more difficult and fears of a shock are elevated.
Cyber security is an ever bigger threat
Some delegates to the Forum suggested it was surprising only 14% of those surveyed saw cyber security as one of their two most significant challenges. Certainly, some industries – particularly those in regulated activities – have been quicker to engage with this risk than others, but given the threat to business continuity, reputation and financial strength posed by cyber fraud, this is an issue all treasurers must now confront. The relatively low figure may suggest some treasurers believe cyber security is the responsibility of others in the business – IT, for example – but this would be a mistake.
Treasury’s higher profile demands new skills
Our Pre-Forum Survey revealed that a third of treasurers regard increased expectations of their function as a significant challenge. No wonder, given the strategic role Treasury is increasingly required to play, alongside its existing responsibilities to manage risk effectively. Adjusting to this new role will require new skills, with treasurers expected to work alongside the C-suite to deliver the organization’s strategic goals while identifying and mitigating risk accordingly. Treasurers will have to become used to applying checks and balances throughout the organization, while ensuring they remain supporters of the business, rather than adversaries.
Talent development is a crucial task
Part of the challenge of the expanding role of Treasury is to ensure the function has the right skillset in place – both the traditional technical knowledge and the broader strategic and enterprise talents. Up-skilling treasury will therefore be an important priority and the function must be ready to learn from other parts of the organization, as well as other industries. Encouraging staff to work in other parts of the organization for a period may be useful; so too may be recruiting non-treasury specialists from across the business.
Technology and data can play a key role
Making better use of new technologies such as data analytics can help treasurers function more effectively – 22% of respondents to the Pre-Forum Survey suggested integrating treasury systems should be a priority, while 14% cited a lack of reliable data as a challenge. With the right tools in place, treasurers can use data to inform and articulate a much more accurate account of the organization’s current position, and its future direction. That will be crucial as treasurers seek to become more strategic operators.