By and large, the growing momentum behind the treasurer’s digital technology agenda is being driven by increasing consumer power as the wider demand for tech-driven solutions in all spheres of life impacts the corporate treasury space directly or indirectly. As a result, much of what the treasury function has aspired to over the past few years, specifically the need for a holistic and integrated approach to how treasury functions and delivers beyond operational requirements, looks now to be achievable.
As has been pointed out in research by Deloitte and PwC, treasury teams are collaborating more with other business functions, increasingly taking on strategic roles, and using automation, offshoring, and treasury centres to consolidate and standardise tactical areas. More than just the excitement of having or implementing the latest digital tools, this shift is about how treasury centres embed digital technology into their core – to be ready for partnering with businesses and meeting customer needs in an era of rapid digitalisation.
Traditionally, treasury organisations have been process-driven, with high reliance on data. With greater visibility around cash, and tools enabling forecasts, the funding and investment processes will become more efficient. The quality of real-time decision making will improve as organisations become more data driven. The planning processes around strategic financing and investment will improve, giving treasurers greater confidence as they fulfil their investment, liquidity and funding requirements.
Better transparency in the banking and financial industry landscape is also taking place, with regulations introduced by country governments as they plan ahead with digitalisation in mind. Such moves will enable treasury centres to deal with the markets with greater trust and better risk management.
Efficiencies will also improve treasury processes in the near term, as exciting digital suite applications such as blockchain, API and SWIFT GPI are taking shape. Open banking holds considerable potential, especially for the smaller treasury departments and firms, as it promises to provide them with capabilities previously affordable only by larger, better resourced corporates. Its use of APIs will enable faster fulfilment of transactions and generate enhanced customer experience and relationships. Such developments in turn with help ensure better controls and transparency for treasurers.
While it is becoming increasingly clear that technology will help treasurers to play a more strategic role within their companies, there will be limits to this. Technology in itself cannot replace strategic thinking, policy and procedure design, which are primarily the responsibility of corporate treasury departments but must be undertaken in consultation with colleagues and other departments. A careful blending of technology and human intelligence will therefore be critical in helping corporations remain on the front as the role of the corporate treasurer continues to evolve even further.
Overall, digitalisation should enable the treasury function to better align with organisational objectives. Organisations that have not yet made this push should begin, sooner rather than later. The trends that we are seeing now are just the tip of the iceberg, with much more to come.