The Executive Series: Preparing for the future

Published: Sep 2018
Matthew Davies, Richard Parkinson, Stephanie Wolf and Hubert J.P. Jolly

Matthew Davies, Richard Parkinson, Stephanie Wolf and Hubert J.P. Jolly

This July in New York City, Richard Parkinson, Chair of Treasury Today, sat down with three of Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s global executive team for a roundtable discussion. We wanted to get their perspective on what is keeping treasury professionals up at night. Drawing on Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s position as the Best Global Bank, it has a comprehensive view of the issues affecting today’s treasurers. In the first part of this multi-medium Executive Series, experts from the bank provide their insights into a diverse range of topics, from the rise of artificial intelligent (AI) in treasury management systems to the importance of measuring environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors for companies.

Joining Richard were Matthew Davies, Head of Global Transaction Services EMEA, based in London; Matthew oversees the global transaction services business for Europe, Middle East and Africa, Stephanie Wolf, Global Head of Financial Institutions & Public Sector Banking for Global Transaction Services, based in New York; Stephanie runs the global financial services franchise from a client-coverage perspective. Also based in New York, Hubert J.P. Jolly, Global Head of Financing and Channels, has responsibility for financing and channels, which includes BofAML’s trade and supply chain business, CashPro treasury management system, cards and payables.

The conversation kicked off with assessing today’s corporate treasury environment. Matthew explained, “There has been quite a shift since the global financial crisis. Up until that point, the focus was very much on traditional areas of treasury. That focus continues today but what has changed is that the role of the treasurer has become so much broader. Treasurers have had to develop new skillsets to spread the influence of treasury much further across the company.”

J.P. added, “Corporates are also looking to drive operating efficiency from technology, which includes digitising the treasury function. Digitisation is driving treasurers to review their supply chains, and how they can help their partners in procurement and manufacturing be more efficient. This includes, how they should pay their suppliers and how they can get capital to suppliers who may require it. Last but not least, they are exploring how they can help their companies collect payments more efficiently.”

Talk turned to market environment, with Stephanie outlining, “We have a whole generation of treasurers and treasury departments who have not lived through a rising interest rate environment. So we spend a lot of time with our clients talking about how that environment impacts the deposit rates, the borrowing rates and the working capital cycle as a whole.”

Upon being asked which trends corporates should be watching right now the team outlined some strong themes, not surprisingly technology is at the forefront. Matthew noted “Corporate treasurers should be focused on the automation opportunities. Beyond that, it is really about how fintechs can help drive change in the broader market place. I think it is interesting to watch how banks are partnering with fintechs and what that is enabling them to bring to market. We are seeing much more collaboration in the bank/fintech space.”

J.P. added, “Treasurers are looking to their banking partners to innovate to help them work smarter and more efficiently. This could mean propriety bank products or partnering with fintechs. Staying on top of market trends and priorities is so important to innovation. Last year, we worked with Treasury Today on the Voice of the Corporate Treasury Global Study. The study provided insight on corporate treasurer’s priorities over the next 12-18 months. Truly understanding trends and our clients’ needs is key to delivering the right solutions.”

Stephanie cited technology as a tool to mitigate fraud. “Cybersecurity is applicable to every single one of our clients and it is applicable to all of us personally. So, we at Bank of America Merrill Lynch have taken a global position that we are here to share information on how we think about cybersecurity – and, where we can, offer advice. And technology helps the ‘knowing your client’ relationship work much better. We have used technology to build databases that give us information on what a particular client or industry of clients or region of clients are doing. What type of receipts are we seeing? What type of payments? What is the gap between a receipt and a payment? What means of executing a payment is being used? We meet with our clients regularly and then we bring that knowledge to achieve more efficient execution.”

To learn more about the discussion please view our all new video story and read the article both available online from 14th September. The full report of the Executive Series roundtable discussion will also appear in print in the September/October editions of Treasury Today and Treasury Today Asia. Make sure you pick up your copy. Subsequent instalments of the Executive Series with Bank of America Merrill Lynch will go live this year so stay tuned!

Listen now to the audio teaser

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