The evolving role of the treasurer
Over the last couple of years, it has become increasingly evident that the treasurer’s areas of responsibility have been gradually changing. However, one of the core responsibilities is still ensuring the company has enough cash to meet its obligations. As company structures become more complex, this task gets harder. It is still simply a matter of having the right amount of the right currency, in the right place, at the right time but it may not be easy.
What has changed is the ways in which treasurers try to achieve this objective. In particular, treasurers are trying to harness technology to reduce the time spent on mundane and repetitive tasks. The goal of straight through processing is the latest manifestation of that.
There has also been a change in what the treasurer feels should be accomplished in the corporate treasury. Outsourcing to specialist providers is almost commonplace. This may be as a result of a formal agreement to use an outsourced agency treasury service to manage liquidity or process incoming and outgoing payments. It may also be the outsourcing of foreign exchange price discovery through the use of a multibank trading platform or the use of money funds for short-term investment of surplus cash. In effect, treasurers are looking to remove many of the mundane tasks to specialist providers, who can perform them much more effectively.
The treasurer now has the opportunity to use the time saved to ‘think strategically’. This may be to consider projects which will allow corporate treasury to operate much more effectively, perhaps by improving processes. It may be by becoming more involved in the operational side of the business. Many treasurers have been instrumental in corporate wide projects to improve the use of working capital.
This does not mean the treasurer ignores the operational side. Instead, the treasurer has the opportunity to consider ways in which the operational side can work much more efficiently and effectively. This growing focus on strategic issues does not mean that the treasurer abdicates core responsibilities such as ensuring the company has enough cash to meet its obligations.