Betting the bank?
In a few short years, the role of the treasurer will have changed beyond all recognition. Indeed, it is perfectly possible that the role of treasurer will cease to exist in its present form. Cash and liquidity will still need to be managed strategically, but improvements in technology will continue to erode the need for almost all the process-driven work currently undertaken within treasury.
Treasurers are beginning to respond to this challenge and get involved elsewhere. There is, for example, a role for treasury in the management of working capital. It is a treasurer who can identify and explain the true cost of sales on extended credit terms or the actual cost of surplus stock – areas previously the exclusive preserve of others.
Banks also have to respond to these trends. No longer can they expect to make money by selling a few specialist products to an isolated treasurer. New opportunities are emerging.
ABN AMRO's response has been to restructure its wholesale bank under the umbrella of 'working capital'. From outsourcing to trade finance and from liquidity management to asset securitisation everyone now has 'working capital group' in their job-title.
In one sense, this is not new. JPMorgan has focussed on working capital for some time and every CFO knows that management of working capital and cash is essential.
What is different about ABN AMRO's approach is their complete restructuring around working capital. Their intention is to be able to offer the full range of working capital services as part of a 'single solution'. This is a bold move for the bank and is one of the more interesting developments in the banking sector in recent years.