Poised for future challenges

Treasury market update April 2009

This spring the PwC Treasury team spoke in depth with a number of Treasurers, asking their opinions about a range of issues. These findings are reinforced by insights gained through ongoing relationships with treasury professionals throughout the year. Over the next few weeks we’ll be summarising the main findings from those discussions and we’d very much like to know your thoughts.  Please use the ‘comment’ links below to add your views.  Yann

Poised for future challenges

In general, Treasurers feel themselves well-placed to cope with the challenges of the next few years. This is partly due to having a strong understanding of the business. By staying close to the business, as well as the markets, they believe they can stay in top of issues as they emerge.

Business relationships
The importance of developing close links with the business was also highlighted in our April 2008 report, Treasurer’s agenda. This questioned whether Treasurers were embracing their new found attention and using it to expand their influence outside the traditional treasury domain. It suggested that those who did not could be missing a vital opportunity to expand their reach and improve their lines of communication with the Board. Our recent conversations indicate that this opportunity remains and that leading Treasurers are increasingly aware of the need to take it.

Effective communication
Most also emphasise the importance of effective communication in enabling the treasury function to maximise its impact. This communication is both internal – with managers elsewhere in the business and top level Board members, and external – with banks, investors and other stakeholders. The communication skills required are multifaceted. Treasury specialists need to be able to explain treasury concepts to the layman, translating potentially complex issues into plain business English. They also need to be able to “sell” themselves to others – winning the support of fellow executives as well as banks and other funders through the persuasiveness of their case. 

Repeatedly Treasurers state that communication is the most important part of the job, taking primary place - ahead of technical knowledge - for making an effective contribution to the business. Technical expertise may reside in the team or can be brought in from outside – from auditors in terms of accounting, from banks in terms of financial modelling, from consultants in terms of systems and processes.

Treasurers of the future
This doesn’t mean that internal resources do not require further investment. Treasurers highlight the importance of training for their teams – particularly in so-called “softer” areas of leadership, communication and rapport building. High performers who can demonstrate ability in these skills will mark themselves out as the leading Treasurers of the future.