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Treasury Today July/August 2019

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Editorial

An island of cooperation in a sea of disquiet

In a recent FT interview, Vladimir Putin said that “the liberal idea” has “outlived its purpose”. With the rise of anti-immigration sentiment, the will to shut down borders and end multiculturalism, it has certainly been tested.

In response, Donald Tusk, the European Council president, “strongly disagreed” with the Russian president, saying that “what I find really obsolete is authoritarianism, personality cults and the rule of oligarchs”. We all know what President Trump says about such matters.

So there you have it. Some of the world’s most powerful voices in polar disagreement, and presumably never the twain shall meet.

Isn’t it good news then that in the world of corporate treasury, we have representatives of some of the world’s largest and most powerful businesses coming together to celebrate the ingenuity and openness of the profession.

The 2019 Treasury Today Adam Smith Awards event is featured in this edition, describing a haven of sense and sensibility, where the incumbents are keen exponents of just getting on with it. In a world where contrariness seems to be the order of the day, feel the positive glow!

We then take a closer look at treasurers ‘getting on with it’, considering the role that this most proactive of professions plays in ensuring organisational growth. We also consider the role of treasury technology, asking if treasurers really need the kind of high-end tools now emerging to do their work.

In our Insight & Analysis piece, the question of borders comes up again, this time with trade finance under scrutiny. Every business knows it’s critical for cross-border trading but, since the financial crisis, the banks have become more risk averse, creating a trade finance gap. We ask how that gap can be plugged.

Global politics can be very wearisome so it’s always interesting to bring things down to a personal level. In our Corporate View this time round we meet LMAX Exchange’s Group Treasurer, Himanshu Kher. Coming at the role from a different angle, he is able to head off challenges with the fast-thinking structured approach of a formally-qualified engineer, inflecting his response with the intuitive mind of the trained Indian percussionist. The meeting of two quite distinct worlds seems to create a natural harmony.

Finally, wherever treasurers are located there will always be regulations with which to contend. The IFRS 16 lease accounting standard may bring transparency to the balance sheet but for most finance functions, it is also a source of a lot of extra work. We look at what can be done to alleviate the pressure. At the very least though it draws the focus away from bickering world leaders for a while!

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