ACT Annual Cash Management Conference 2016 report

In the largest conference of its kind in Europe, speakers focused on technological innovation, particularly in the consumer payments space, and on risk – especially geopolitical risk. Today, when we think about how we manage risk, starting at the geopolitical level is important – unavoidable even.

Speakers and panellists demonstrated that changes in regulatory thinking or in a political regime in a particular country can and do have a direct impact on the work treasurers do and the decisions they make. On the world political stage, in Europe and in the US, we seem to be witnessing a tide towards nationalism and protectionism – a direction of travel that runs contrary to globalisation within companies.

Understanding how that broader context could impact you as a treasury professional couldn’t be more important. Presenters and panellists also debated bank selection and deposit strategies; the discussions amply demonstrated that companies continue to adopt widely varying approaches compared to one another, and that they have different ideas.

Managing operational risk in terms of, on the one hand, concentrating on a small core of banking providers, versus diversifying in terms of counterparties, is clearly still an area very much open to debate. Companies are not necessarily moving in one direction on this. Innovation, we saw, isn’t necessarily making life easier yet, especially for those consumer-facing businesses trying to decide how to accept payments from customers. Nevertheless, the degree of choice and change advancing in that part of the market is exciting to see.

Where presenters touched on difficult themes, such as know your customer, we saw that we don’t get far when we treat the issue as if it were someone’s fault. Making sure your bankers know what your issues are is key. We do have to operate within the changing context that regulators delineate, and collaborative efforts are the ones likely to yield the most fruitful results. As ever, time at the Cash Management Conference was time well spent.

I hope you enjoy discovering or revisiting the themes of this year’s event.

James Allan
Head of UK Cash Management at Barclays

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