Highlights from the ACT Annual Conference 2018

The ACT Annual Conference in Liverpool was jam-packed with information, insight and interaction. Peter Matza draws out the highlights

There’s been much to concern the treasury profession worldwide over the past few years.

The aftermath of the financial crisis, the constant drumbeat of regulation and all manner of geopolitical risks are just a handful of the core concerns. The ACT has been supporter and commentator on the impacts these material shifts have had on treasurers through our conferences, events, The Treasurer and other avenues.

The ACT Annual Conference in the UK provides the most in-depth and substantial of the opportunities for treasurers to meet, discuss, share and learn. This year’s event was no exception.

From Brexit to FX, from accounting to regulation and from green to China, speakers, presenters and service providers were engaged as never before.

Strategic insights

The range of corporate speakers in particular is the key to the value delivered at the conference.

This year, we welcomed treasury professionals from Vodafone, LEGO®, Shell and Dubai Aerospace to name just a few. Throw in the Bank of England, the Financial Conduct Authority, Fitch and S&P, and pretty soon we’ve got everyone’s attention.

Day one began with a brand-new video about the ACT and opening tour de force from former UK representative to the EU Sir Ivan Rogers, speaking on Brexit.

Delegates then hoovered up crystal-ball economics, ‘super-duper’ cash-transformation projects with detours into virtual accounts, investing cash, a regulation masterclass and developing career skills.

Day two brought sessions on benchmark reform, digital FX management, the revised Payment Services Directive, liquidity risk management, green and sustainable finance, blockchain and plenty more.

The deeper point in all this? The more treasurers embrace their role as strategic collaborators in their businesses – bringing to the table their ability to combine their insights into business growth, risk analysis and management – the more they will need to ensure they are up to speed with the technology and the language of business today.

What shone brightly was the willingness of delegates and speakers to engage, to share experiences, to appreciate good practice and learn from the mistakes that we all make.

Accepting that strategic role and stepping into the limelight will place demands on all of us in the profession – whether we are service providers, treasurers, educators or professional bodies.

I’d judge that to be a challenge that today’s treasurers are ready, willing and able to meet.

Brave new world

It has become our tradition to close the conference with two keynote presentations that aim to challenge delegates in their thinking and approach to business and life.

This year, our first speaker, Dave Coplin, formerly a chief envisioning officer at Microsoft, offered a view that the brave new world of automation and machine learning should, in reality, see the rise of human intelligence, creativity and opportunity. People skills and human insight will be in demand.

Our closing presentation came from David Meade, a former university lecturer-turned-mentalist. Beyond the clever party tricks and mind games, there was a clear message: influencing people is a serious business and knowing how to get someone to say yes shouldn’t be left to chance.

Among the revelations: it is always better to deliver bad news early, or go big on a project request.

Throughout the conference, delegates continued to demonstrate an appetite for thinking broadly about their issues, understanding the new drivers of business success, seeking to understand how their peers manage risk and reward, and how technology and digitisation will help them deliver business success – items firmly on the menu at the conference.

Key conclusions

Treasurers can use their unique position at the heart of a business to help their colleagues meet financial and business challenges. In doing so, treasurers must look at value creation as a crucial key performance indicator.

If they can deliver against that and other metrics, then a successful treasurer will become a trusted adviser and key partner for the whole value chain in an organisation.

Click here for The Treasurer’s editor Liz Loxton’s in-depth look at nine key themes from the conference.

About the author

Peter Matza is speaker’s chair at the ACT

This article was taken from the August/September 2018 issue of The Treasurer magazine. For more great insights, log in to view the full issue or sign up for eAffiliate membership

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