The Treasurer November 2002


I was lambasted at work the other day for wearing an orange ‘designer’ jumper. It is the only ‘designer’ clothing in my wardrobe and I thought it would be nice to brighten up the gloomy atmosphere. It was the first day after the Indian Summer and everybody on the District Line seemed down and drab. My jumper may have induced the odd snigger, as it did at work, but you could almost touch the sense of doom.

In many ways, it is not difficult to see why. The weather has changed from a cheerful, sunny and pleasant companion to a bitter, sour-faced curmudgeon. A fireman’s strike is in the offing, no doubt to be followed by other public sector workers if the fireman’s demands aren’t extinguished. The City of London is hosting a perpetual lumberjack’s conference, with the axe falling on a regular and alarming basis. ‘Soft’ targets are now legitimate for terrorists and war with someone (Iraq, North Korea, Al Qaeda, or all of the above) seems inevitable. The economic outlook is uncertain. I could go on, but I think you get the drift.

It would be an exaggeration to say that the only cheerful people around are treasurers, but in many ways, this is where they really earn their corn. The exciting, innovative products and services which have been touted around for the past few years, especially in financing and IT, and which have provided such a fascinating diversion, are not so plentiful.

Treasurers are now focusing on what they do best, which is to manage the risks of the business and make sure that whatever else might be thrown at us can be dealt with in a measured, managed way.

Pensions, whether from a corporate or personal perspective, seems to be one of those topics for my list of gloom above, but it is a classic example of an area where treasurers can play an active and extremely beneficial role in managing the issues and problems - we address some of the issues in this month’s Spotlight.
I would particularly recommend you read John Ashworth’s article on page 34. John is a member of the ACT’s Pensions Working Group and highlights the contribution which treasurers can make as trustees of a pensions scheme.

Of course, treasurers have to continue to deal with other core treasury issues such as cash management/cash pooling, tax, accounting and the impact of Britain signing up to the euro. All of these topics are covered in this edition.
I hope this column hasn’t depressed you too much, so I would like to leave you on a high note: there are only 52 days to Christmas! (It seems superfluous to say ‘shopping days’ when shops are open every day to relieve us of our hard-earned cash).

Managing Editor

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