The Treasurer May 2017

At this time of year, we look forward to the ACT’s cornerstone event, the Annual Conference 2017, which gives members the opportunity both to engage with each other and with the big issues of the day: the pace of global change, economic headwinds and trends in business strategy. This year, group treasurers speaking at the conference include Paul Hedley of Rio Tinto, Fiona Rose of Burberry and Rick Martin of LNG logistics company GasLog, which won UK Treasury Team of the Year in The Treasurer’s Deals of the Year Awards in February. Also speaking at the conference are Lord Michael Dobbs, politician and bestselling author of the House of Cards trilogy, and forecaster Leo Johnson. On day two, a question time session will be hosted by broadcaster Huw Edwards. In this issue of The Treasurer, we look at technology. Survey after survey present us with pictures of an automated future, one where our working lives are much less consumed with mundane tasks and more concerned with strategic and business advisory ones, ones that add value and, increasingly, corporates are focusing on their digital capabilities. Of course, to the extent that the surveys come from technology providers, these outcomes are contingent on technology investment, ie not so much added value as added cost – at least to start with. And, as we know, the connection between IT investment and productivity enhancement is sometimes far from straightforward. The gulf between promise and delivery can be frustratingly wide at times. We asked six treasurers about the progress they’ve seen on the back of technology and, crucially, what they would like to see in the future. The good news is the gains on some fronts have been significant and our interviewees are enthused by the outcomes they’ve seen. There is no doubt that gaps still exist in terms of progress towards a fully integrated, low-friction digital treasury infrastructure, however. Turn to page 22 for Lesley Meall’s feature on the technology story so far and a look at treasurers’ technology aspirations and wishes. Whether through technological innovation or regulatory evolution, treasurers often face change management issues. A significant part of handling those relies on an ability to educate the treasury team. So whose job is that and just how is it most effectively carried out? Andrew Burgess argues on page 26 that treasurers can be effective teachers and explains how to put together a teaching plan. Elsewhere in the issue (page 18), we talk to Mona Lockett, head of treasury at food group Webcor, about operating in the Middle East and Africa, implementing a TMS and centralising treasury. I hope you enjoy the issue and look forward to seeing many of you in Manchester. Liz Loxton, Editor

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