Are we entering an unprecedented economic situation?

| 28-02-2020 | treasuryXL | Pieter de Kiewit

One of my favourite professional pastimes as a corporate treasury recruiter is digesting treasury technical content and bridging it to the “rest of the world”. Or see what is happening in the global news and projecting it on the field of corporate treasury.

Currently there is a constant flow of news about too much money in the market. One would say this is a good thing. Let me give you some positive and negative examples of the effects:

But also:

  • Pension funds are not able to invest in a future-proof way;
  • We have to pay for our savings (if you have a lot);
  • Hedge fund managers use external funding, instead of the funding of their investors, to safeguard their bonuses.

We enter an unprecedented economic situation only encountered by Japan and there is no obvious path to take. I will not try to clarify macro economics, it is not my field of expertise, but do know that changing demographics contribute. Us getting older and people retiring rich, most likely richer than their kids, has to do with this. What do I see as effects on corporate treasury? Let’s focus on three main tasks of a corporate treasurer.

In cash & liquidity management there are many exciting initiatives in the improvement of cash flow forecasting. Payments can technically be done smoother, safer and quicker. Cash visibility can be increased and liquidity is centralized. Most corporate treasurers want to implement these new solutions. As liquidity is high, many CFOs do not feel the urgency to invest in these initiatives. Doing nothing will not result in higher cost, so what is the ROI?

In risk & investment management the obvious focus is on interest developments. The general opinion is that interest will be low for a very long time. Getting long term funding for (almost) 0% is doable. So why bother matching long and short term funding options? This results in a situation that the use of hedging instruments is less important. Investing excess cash or helping the company pension fund with their strategy currently requires analysis and choices.

Corporate Finance has the fun task of optimizing the balance sheet and lowering funding costs to an extreme. I recently met the group treasurer of a real estate company who is able to make money attract funding for his company! The more challenging task of corporate finance is participation in business development and M&A. The willingness of entrepreneurs, shareholders and boards to invest in adventurous ways is high. The corporate treasurer has to hold on to his role of risk manager and hit the brake. This does often not increase his popularity…

A lot more can be said about the topic, that will be for other blogs. Back to a non-corporate mindset and not pretending to be a socialist, I hope all this money will be used to improve the world: better the environment, lowering the income gaps, makes us all happier. The real philosophical approach I leave to Notorious B.I.G.

Enjoy your money,

 

 

Pieter de Kiewit

Owner at Treasurer Search

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