Discussion LinkedIn poll | The Dollar-Euro exchange rate reached parity for the first time in two decades

We analyze the results of the most recent treasuryXL poll on today’s corporate treasury concerns in this third edition of the newsletter. We’ll show you how treasurers voted to express their opinions on a current issue, and a few treasury experts will explain their positions.

We have invited Patrick Kunz, Harry Mills and Paul Stheeman to share their views on the current topic.

25-08-2022 | treasuryXL LinkedIn |

Poll results

We talked about whether treasurers should be concerned about the present trend in the Dollar-Euro exchange rate in last month’s poll. 38 people participated in the poll, and the results are shown in the image below. Thank you to everyone who voted, and don’t forget to vote in the new poll this month!

 

First observation

The results indicate quite clearly that the Corporate Treasurer is, of course, very much aware of the current trend. The exchange rate remains volatile, as the euro has even currently fallen to a new two-decade low. A number of treasuryXL experts have expressed their views regarding the current trend and how it may or may not affect treasury activities.

Views of treasuryXL experts

Patrick Kunz

 

“The main reason for keeping an eye on it is so a treasurer can estimate what the impact of a falling Euro or stronger USD will be on the company’s financials.”

 

Patrick voted for the option to keep a close eye on the current trend

 

Keeping an eye on the Euro-Dollar rate is not necessarily to know what the current rate is. The main reason for keeping an eye on it is so a treasurer can estimate what the impact of a falling Euro or stronger USD will be on the company’s financials. Both in the field of FX hedging (not all companies hedge 100% of their exposure but have a rolling hedging policy) and higher hedge costs (forward points have increased due to larger interest rate differences with the US).

But also the sensitivity of the exchange rate on profits and sales is important. For example, if you sell in USD, you suddenly earn more in EUR and you probably sell more. On the other hand, if you buy in USD, it becomes more expensive while your EUR price is fixed. Is it perhaps cheaper to buy elsewhere? What is the impact on the cost price and total demand and turnover of the product? Do the prices need to be adjusted? All questions that the treasurer does not have to answer but that he can signal to his colleagues (CFO, Procurement, Sales etc.).

 

Harry Mills

 

“Currency risk aside, treasurers have other headaches to contend with when currencies exhibit high volatility and/or experience a large directional shift (trend) in value.”

 

Harry voted for the option to keep a close eye on the current trend

 

The euro’s descent from above $1.20 in mid-2021 to below parity with the dollar has been well covered in the financial media, and the impact on European importers is obvious: higher import costs, squeezed margins, and pressure on business performance. Currency risk aside, treasurers have other headaches to contend with when currencies exhibit high volatility and/or experience a large directional shift (trend) in value. Let me name a small sample of potential areas for attention

Hedge Maintenance and Funding Requirements

Managing the currency hedging position, in line with policy, requires maintenance – trading in derivatives such as forward contracts and options, which presents its own challenges when exchange rates change over time. Additionally, FX swaps are used to balance cash positions and manage liquidity: it’s typical for swaps to be deployed to rollover the settlement on a hedging trade, or to bring forward a delivery. A lower EUR/USD spot rate compared to the hedged rate could incur a funding requirement if the position is out of the money when rolling-over or extending (i.e., for a euro-buyer / dollar-seller).

Treasurers as internal Consultants

Treasurers will need to work with the risk team and other stakeholders to manage internal expectations and provide guidance into the business. Preparing commentary, analysis, and forecasts using proprietary research and that of appropriate external sources, such as banking and consulting partners, is a critical area in which treasurers can demonstrate additional value. Business leaders will be aware of the EUR/USD parity story from headlines, but taking advice and information from trusted internal resources could be invaluable.

Collateral and Margin Calls

For European importers, selling the euro to buy the dollar, a move below parity will likely mean their hedging position is in the money, but of course, future hedging trades may well be at less favourable rates. For those firms selling the dollar to buy the euro however, they may find that they are losing headroom on their trading lines and could face margin calls as the sustained fall in the euro erodes their position value. Regular stress-testing of position valuations should give ample forewarning of any calls for additional collateral, and frequent communication with liquidity providers should provide the opportunity to discuss trading terms and spreads, which are liable to be adjusted in times of high volatility.

Currency Options

EUR/USD volatility has risen to multiyear highs, meaning that option premiums are higher. Treasurers will need to manage the impact of higher hedging costs and ensure an appropriate balance of cost-efficiency and hedge effectiveness is achieved. Another way EUR/USD breaking below parity could be a concern for treasurers is regarding option payoffs, and especially for path-dependent trades such as knock in or knock out options. Exotic options and multi-leg “structured” products can return a vastly different outcome in the event of a large shift in the underlying spot rate. Care should be paid to model various scenarios for the impact on the hedging and liquidity position, and to offer guidance on the appropriateness of such transactions.

Paul Stheeman

 

“The recent movements in the EUR/USD may seem extreme at first glance, but historically they have in no way gone outside of trends or ranges we have seen before.”

 

Paul voted for the option that there is no need to be concerned

 

I think treasurers should not be over-worried about the current movement in EUR/USD exchange rate. Let me explain to you why.

Every company should have a sound FX policy. This policy should take into account the possibility of increased market volatility. Some companies believe that their balance sheet is strong enough to deal with fluctuations in exchange rates and therefore will not hedge much, if at all. Others will want to manage their risk by using futures contracts or options. These instruments allow CFOs and Treasurers to hedge at a comfortable level. The only ones who may have sleepless nights are those who have not implemented a coherent hedging policy. But under normal circumstances, any Treasurer will ensure that such a policy is in place and implemented.

Moreover, European importers are concerned about the strength of the USD and the weakness of the EUR. But the current volatility in the market is by no means extreme. Over the past seven years, we have seen prices move between 1.25 and 1.00. In the seven-year period between 2008 and 2015, we saw rates between almost 1.60 and 1.10 . In that period, the euro has fallen twice as much as it has in the past seven years. Or look at the volatility over a shorter period, during the financial crisis between 2008 and 2010, when we saw rates move dramatically in both directions over much shorter periods. The recent movements in the EUR/USD may seem extreme at first glance, but historically they have in no way gone outside of trends or ranges we have seen before.


Would you like to explain your own vote for this poll? Join the discussion in the comments. And above all, don’t forget to give your opinion on our latest question!

Meet our Expert | 8 questions for Patrick Kunz, the Passionate Treasurer

01-03-2022 | Patrick Kunz | treasuryXL | LinkedIn |

 

We are happy to interview treasuryXL expert, Patrick Kunz.

With Patrick’s impressive career within the World of Treasury, you can really say that he lives and breathes Treasury.

Patrick is performance driven. He is an open minded, outgoing, rational person who is comfortable communicating and convincing on all levels of management.

Patrick is owner of Pecunia Treasury & Finance with several independent treasury and finance consultants and founder of treasuryabonnement.nl. Furthermore he owns an online FX trading and payment platform with a connection to a big FX broker.

Patrick has worked with both international corporates from all fields of business as well as national non-profit organisations.

We recommend to visit Patrick’s LinkedIn profile to see his stunning career and activities. But first….

We asked him 8 questions, let’s go!

INTERVIEW

 



1. How did your treasury journey start?

During my study at Maastricht University I knew I wanted to work in the “world of finance” and more specifically trading or investment banking. In my 3rd year of university I got the opportunity to work as an intern for a Swiss Investment bank in Zurich which was a great first experience into wealth management and client exposure with high net worth clients. It also showed me that the client comes first, even though the client was not always right. This made me wonder if it was more fun on “the other side” at the buy side. It slightly frustrated me that a bank would not always provide the best solution.

 

After graduation I left on a trip around the world backpacking for 1,5 years. Enjoying ultimate freedom and fun before starting a career. When I came back to the Netherlands I applied for treasury roles at multinationals and landed my first job as cash & treasury manager at the German multinational Metro Group (the wholesaler, not the Dutch free newspaper). This was the start of my treasury career which until now I would never leave.

 

2. What do you like about working in Treasury?

It’s the core of a company. In the end its all about the money. Independent on what products you are selling and how you are selling them. Cash in vs Cash out. Without cash a company has a problem. Cash is king and profit is an opinion so in my opinion managing cash is very important and therefore fun. The more complex the more fun. Managing a multinational company with hundreds of bank accounts in different currencies around the global; finding the optimal treasury setup and solutions is great fun. Lastly, treasury teams are smaller compared to accounting or controlling, which make the lines shorter and the team tighter.

 

3. What is your Treasury Expertise and what expertise gives you a boost of energy?

I started in cash management and FX trading which are great basic skills for every treasurer. My first company also had very short treasury lines and I quickly was involved in global treasury solutions, financing solutions and group companies corporate finance. When I moved on to my second role as group treasurer of a regional housing association, I also got exposure to interest rate derivatives and guarantee management. Afterwards when I started my own consultancy and interim management company 8 years ago I got to do the full spectrum of treasury. So without arrogance I can say in treasury I have done it all. The last years I am doing a lot of TMS/Payment hub implementations, which I enjoy doing. After finishing an implementation it is nice to look back and compare the old way of treasury processes and the new and see how it improved after a couple of months. Very rewarding.

 

4. What has been your best experience in your treasury career until today?

Building a treasury from scratch is most rewarding and fun to do. 2 years ago I got the opportunity to build the treasury role at the Dutch born AEX company Takeaway.com. There were treasury processes in place but scattered in different departments. Also some of them were sub-optimal. My role was to bring them together and optimize them. Besides increasing the reporting and importance of treasury to management this also brought significant cash savings on bank and FX costs. A couple of months into the rule, the merger/acquisition of Just Eat was approved and the integration with the existing treasury team in London could start, making the team suddenly 400% bigger. After 5 months my work was far from finished but it was time to hand it over to the existing/new team. Looking back what was done in this short time this was one of my greatest experiences in treasury. And a great company to work for.

 

5. What has been your biggest challenge in treasury?

Nowadays: Opening a company bank account in a short timeframe without difficult KYC questions, especially for companies with difficult or complex structures. I was with a client last year, a scale-up, that moved fast in several countries in Europe. Treasury processes needed to be implemented from scratch in each country while operations was much further ahead but legal and treasury still needed to start. Working with this fixed go live we had to make sure we could receive payments from day 1 onward. In one country we were actually live on day -1 with no room for error. Stressful but successful.

As a consultant I sometimes face tight deadlines or difficult projects that need to be delivered but are dependent on other stakeholders. That is not always easy but this gives me energy to make it happen.

 

6. What’s the most important lesson that you’ve learned as a treasurer?

You can go fast on your own but you go far together. Sounds cliché but it is especially true in treasury as the treasury department is dependent on data from other departments to make it function. You cannot run risk analysis if you have no exposure data. Same for FX. Doing cash flow forecasting? You need data from procurement, AR and FP&A.

Also visibility and transparency is key. Even the other financial departments accounting and controlling sometimes see treasury as this special people that they have no idea what they are exactly doing. Make sure they understand (and vice versa) what each department does and how you can work together and what data can be shared. Also to avoid duplicating work. So leave the ivory tower and go out there and collaborate.

 

7. How have you seen the role of Corporate Treasury evolve over the years?

The speed and amount of information has increased and is increasing. Also the complexity of treasury departments. Luckily also the solutions available to manage them has improved. Next to swift solutions we now see advanced TMS solutions or payment hubs that can be implemented within a couple of months giving you full visibility. A treasurer nowadays needs some tech skills to be able to understand the information to implement the TMS or hub. Because the tool will be only be as good as it is being used; garbage in is garbage out. During the many implementations that I have done I have learned a lot about technical connections (sFTP, h2h, API), information exchange formats, XML file types, swift messages etc. This knowledge now helps me a lot in implementations and supporting the IT department determining the information needs and sources.

 

8. What developments do you expect in corporate treasury in the near and further future?

Instant payments are a big thing in treasury which is cool but will not necessarily bring much added value to the treasury. Instant information processing is more important especially in e-commerce. Clients expects instant service. If they pay online they expect to get the service or goods asap. Treasury can help with this by connecting their PSP’s or bank information to their systems. Not necessarily linking the payment to an invoice which is an accounting reconciliation process. More importantly linking the positive acknowledgment (the customers has paid) to the sales. Customers start demanding this more and more and treasury has to adapt to this instant world. This means more automation.

Clients also demand more payment options, some of them are not available at banks. This means that treasurers will have to move away from the traditional model of banking partners for cash management but to a more hybrid model of cash at bank, cash in transit at PSP’s, virtual credit cards, wallets etc. Maybe even crypto or CBDC deposits/balances. This will all add to the complexity of the cash and risk management.

 

Isn’t treasury the best department to be in? 😊 I already get excited saying this.

 

Get in touch with Patrick
Click here for his Expert Profile

 

Join Patrick and experts from Kyriba and Deloitte at the Panel Discussion: How Can Treasurers Overcome Today’s Security Challenges?

When? March 9
Start: 4.00 pm CET

Register here

Thanks for reading!

 

 

Kendra Keydeniers

Director Community & Partners, treasuryXL

Platform Interim Treasury Masterclass

| 06-09-2019 | by DACT |

Masterclass Succesvol Pitchen en Presenteren
Kunnen we nog afkicken van 8 jaar monetaire morfine van de ECB?
Trends in Export financiering

De DACT nodigt je uit voor de volgende PIT-bijeenkomst op dinsdag 10 september 2019 op een bijzondere locatie: De Beurs van Berlage (Beursplein 5) , waar de DACT gast is bij AFS Group. Je bent vanaf 17:30 uur welkom, de bijeenkomst start om 18:00 uur en zal rond 21:00 worden afgesloten. Broodjes en drankjes worden door AFS aangeboden op de beursvloer.

PIT is een DACT Netwerkgroep gericht op de Treasury professional die niet in vast dienstverband zijn beroep uitoefent, maar op basis van tijdelijke (arbeids)overeenkomsten. PIT wordt bestuurd door Ingmar Bergmann, Peter Heymans, Patrick Kunz, Dennis Schmidt en Bart Steens. Tijdens de periodieke PIT-bijeenkomsten wordt er niet alleen vakinhoudelijk met elkaar van gedachten gewisseld, maar ook worden er thema’s behandeld die specifiek zien op de rol als interim professional. Zoals altijd wordt een actieve participatie van alle deelnemers gevraagd. Met name de Masterclass Succesvol Pitchen en Presenteren kan niet zonder die actieve deelname!

Voor de bijeenkomst op 10 september a.s. hebben wij het onderstaande programma samengesteld.

  • Introductie AFS Blue – Bringing issuing and trading debt into a digitized world door Marcel Coppejans, Managing Director AFS Group. Presentatie van AFS’ internet based platform dat is ontwikkeld om de brokerage van schuldpapier in de primaire en secundaire markt transparanter en efficiënter te maken.
  • Masterclass Succesvol Pitchen en Presenteren door Patrick van Gils, pitchcoach en presentatietrainer. Oprichter van TOPpresentaties. Hoe kunnen we onszelf nog beter in de markt zetten? Hoe kunnen we kort, krachtig en overtuigend communiceren? Tijdens zijn interactieve presentatie ontdek je zijn beproefde 6 staps pitch-formule en komen zaken als woordkeus, powervragen, ‘pijn & fijn’ en overtuigingskracht aan de orde. De nadruk ligt op directe bruikbaarheid en praktische toepasbaarheid. Zijn doel is “om er zelf direct mee aan de slag gaan en de vruchten te plukken!”.
  • Kunnen we nog afkicken van 8 jaar monetaire financiering? door Arne Petimezas, Macro Analist AFS Group. Als specialist in de Europese en Amerikaanse geld- en kapitaalmarkten wordt hij vaak gevraagd zijn visie te delen met professionele partijen en de media, zoals het Financieel Dagblad en nieuwszenders op televisie. Ook met ons zal hij zijn visie delen over het monetaire beleid van de ECB.
  • Trends in Export Financiering door Stephen Maduro, AFS Corporate Finance. Is het huidige instrumentarium van Nederlandse exporteurs voldoende om de export te bevorderen? Past de rol van banken en Export Krediet Verzekeraars nog in de huidige markt? Hoe kunnen Nederlandse exporteurs het beste ondersteund worden?
    Hoe kan deze markt toegankelijker en transparanter gemaakt worden?
  • PIT-zaken

Alle geïnteresseerde DACT-leden zijn uitgenodigd voor deze nieuwe PIT-bijeenkomst, dus ook de niet interim Treasurers, zolang zij bereid zijn om actief en open deel te nemen aan de discussie; uiteraard is er alle respect voor de vertrouwelijkheid die een ieder op sommige terreinen moet betrachten.

Aanmelden doe je hier

Big tech vs Fintech vs Banks – in international payments

| 09-07-2019 | by Patrick Kunz |

This title makes it sounds like it’s a fight. To be honest: it is! The market for international payments is huge and its lucrative. In a McKinsey report the 2018 market size for payment revenues was close to 2 Billion. Not strange everybody wants a slice of that.

Fintech & Banks

Traditionally the market for international payments was dominated by banks. Recent years and technological advancements has shown that banks are slow to adapt to new technology and market requirements. In some cases it still takes days to transfer money from Europe to Asia, while an email, FB message or picture can be send in seconds. Fintech has tried to fill the gap with innovative tech solutions that solve these problems. Often these companies are lean and mean and adapt to market changes much quicker than the big stable banks. They provide cloud solutions, link to every bank possible and make you more bank independent. Lately we have seen consolidation in the fintech market where players are merging, growing or being taken over by banks. Some banks have started their own fintech. But often fintech only solved a part of the problem and is build on the existing (bank) infrastructure. Banks are also working on innovation: instant payments, swift GPI and PSD2 api’s are helping the customer paying faster and easier. These initiatives are great but have taken years to be implemented.

Bigtech

Then there is a third group of players: big tech. These are the google, facebook and alixpress of our world. These are traditionally IT companies who have a big client base but these companies where not involved in payments (yet). Their edge is size, market access and fast adoption. What happens if they enter the market for payments? Are they likely to win? Look at Alipay, massively successful in China but growing immensely outside Asia to. Why ? because it is easy to use, innovative, low cost and probably most importantly connected with an existing service of the bigtech (alixpress – shopping). The company provides the full customer journey: shopping for product and paying the goods in the most easy way without moving away from the website. Not only via desktop but also via mobile. On the go they make it possible to pay by scanning a QR code, in a grocery store or in a cab. Who needs cash OR a debit card, you only need your mobile phone and an app! Why was this successful? Because the existing customer base was already there they just vertically integrated into the customer journey; easier for the customer and therefore extra revenue for Ali. But also more power for Ali.

Stablecoin Libra

Looking at Facebook and their Stablecoin Libra. Digital currency, unregulated, not based on the traditional banking/payment infrastructure. There are big and significant differences with Bitcoin but the idea is the same: sending and receiving money worldwide in an instant as digital currency. There should be no speculation on the Libra-Rate as the rate of exchange is based on a basket of currencies (EUR, USD, JPY etc). Similar to the old tech Special Drawing Rights from the IMF. So what makes libra different to bitcoin and the other coins? I am not going into the technical differences as that is beyond my scope and would bore you. The main difference is the easy of adoption. New to bitcoin and want to use it: you have to open a wallet, trading account and learn have to transfer the BTC to somebody and the receivers also needs a wallet; a barrier for most. Using Libra will be much easier as it is just an extension of the services of Facebook. Libra potentially has 2,4 billion users (the number of facebook accounts). This is a big competitive advantage. Compared with smart marketing (facebook knows that) and combining it with existing products there is a big potential. Sending money to your facebook friends in Australia or Japan? No problem: in-an-instant via Libra. Besides facebook it is also supported by other big players like Visa, Spotify, Paypall, Mastercard, Vodafone. Is there a future without Libra ? And how many facebook users are there without an bank account. There are 2,4 billion facebook users and 1,7 billion people without a bank account in this world. The reach is already huge so there is low barrier for adoption.

The Battle

Does this mean bigtech will be ‘winning’? In my opinion hard to say. That battle is being fought the coming years. Don’t forgot the power and influence of regulator and governments. Digital payments are unregulated and unknown and could influence the power of governments and the whole banking infrastructure of money regulation, central bank money creation and some even fear de-stabilization of the monetary system as a whole. Regulators could stop/limit the quick steps forward by bigtech.

The coming years will be exiting to see the technological advancements in the battle for payment revenue. The winner will be the consumer; easy of paying will increase further and more importantly the speed will increase. Paying how we want and within a blink of an eye, and this worldwide, will be the new standard within several years.

 

Patrick Kunz

Treasury, Finance & Risk Consultant/ Owner Pecunia Treasury & Finance BV

 

Best read articles of all time: Do treasurers really need instant payments? some implications.

| 03-08-2018 | Patrick Kunz | treasuryXL

 

 

Per 13 January 2018 we have a new payments service directive (nr. 2) live in the European union, PSD2 for short. One part of PSD2 is the possibility for banks to offer instant payments between banks in the EU. Within max 10 seconds money flows from one bank to the other, also on weekends and on holidays. In this paper I want to discuss the implications for treasurers of instant payments.

Cash flow forecasting

Forecasting is an important part of the daily/weekly routine of a treasurer. He/she needs to predict the future to know his cash/risk/financing position. On the ultra-short term spectrum of this forecast a treasurer might use intraday bank statement (MT942) to take into account the incoming funds during the day. These are often updated hourly. With instant payments a treasurer can have a look at their bank account and the balance that is showing is the real-time balance with all incoming transactions being settled. As said before a treasurer might already have intraday statements but there is (1) a time lag in those and (2) there might be transactions not processed yet. Bottom line this difference amounts to several hours lag. Depending on the size of the company and the amount and size of transactions there is some impact but not very sizeable. Furthermore, those treasurers that do not use intraday balances for their forecasting have no impact of instant payments. However, how about the due payments on non-working days? In the future these are normal payments dates. Previously due payments on weekends are either set on Friday or Monday depending on the terms of the contract. These could now be forecasted on the exact day. But that depends, payments are often done during business hours, so it is possible that nothing changes. Depending on the size of the transactions there is importance to check this with your suppliers and clients. This also depends on bank processing of yourself and your client/supplier.

Bank processing

Instant means instant in time but also in days. In the past we were dependent on the opening hours of the banks and later of the ECB. That could mean that if we send money just after close on Friday and there was a public holiday on Monday we would only see the money coming in on Tuesday. The money was “lost in translation” in between. This is not very modern in an age where we send an email from Tokyo to South Africa in minutes but not money. We could literally fly there with cash and be faster. After all banks have implemented PSD2 money flows 24/7. So also in the weekend and on holidays. This has an impact on the processing of your bank statement. You now receive bank statement for Saturday and Sunday. Most accounting/treasury departments do not work on the weekends so there is a chance that these statements are not processed. This means you must process 3 statements on Monday. Some companies have automatic processing of bank statements, so the weekend statements might be processed but not (automatically) consolidated leading to more open positions on Monday. Ok big deal, there is more work to do on Monday due to more bank statements. But there is more: not necessarily for treasury departments. Think about customer services (helpdesk) departments. If a client with an overdue payment calls it would be great if the helpdesk employee is able to verify statements of the customers if the says he has paid or will pay immediately. This however only works if processing is automatic or if the helpdesk employee can access/search the incoming payments on the bank account (which might not have processed in accounting). Not all companies will have this yet. Overdue calculations might be faulty in some ERP systems as only working days are considered. If a payment is due on Sunday, you can pay on this Sunday and not necessarily on the Friday before.

Conclusion

Instant payments are only a fraction of PSD2 which is often not very interesting for most treasurers. They get some information faster but that does not really help them too much. There is however more to it. Since payments can now arrive and be made in the weekends the cash flow forecasting should now contain 7 days in a week instead of 5. Payment can be spread out more but also receipts will be. Bank processing is more work; 7 daily statements per bank account per week instead of 5. Extra processing or extra automation needed. The extra information might be needed by other departments too even though the treasury/accounting department is not working.

Overall the implications could be bigger then you might think and are different for every company and depending on their existing (bank) processing.
Most bank are planning to introduce weekend reporting by H2 2018 while instant payments are due beginning 2019. For business transactions this might even take until H2 2019.

Some time left but a good time to already think about your current processes in comparison to the new reality under psd2. Treasury is moving to a 24/7 information economy. It’s about time.Time will tell if there will be fintech’s stepping in helping with above issues with direct connections to the bank, which is another important part of PSD2 but not within the scope of this article.

If you need help with automating your bank statement processing or with your cash flow forecasting, then look at this author and other Flex Treasurers on this website for answers.

Patrick Kunz

Treasury, Finance & Risk Consultant/ Owner Pecunia Treasury & Finance BV

 

 

Is cash still king?

| 11-06-2018 | by Patrick Kunz |

All treasurers and most financials know the statement “cash is king”. I do not have to explain the meaning; it is best for a company to have cash above any other forms of (accounting) income. Not talking about the problems of not having any cash. Having cash makes a company stronger and opens possibilities to use this cash (dividends, M&A) and cash is also needed to pay the bills.

However, since several years we are living in a world where interest rates are negative. So it costs money to own cash. It is suddenly costly to be a bigger king. This has some implications for companies and treasuries.

Active cash management

Because it is expensive to have and hold cash it is important for treasurers to know where all the cash is and what the position is. Only holding the cash and doing nothing means that the cash balance will decrease because of negative interest. It therefore makes sense to look into options to reduce the cash level. This does not necessarily mean spending the money!

Several options include:

  • Compensating negative cash balances with positive cash balances, also between different currencies (fx swaps)
  • Repaying loans
  • Paying dividends
  • Paying suppliers earlier to receive a discount

Of course above options are examples and depend on the specific company. Most important aspect in doing above actions are the cash flow forecast. The actions you are taking now have an impact on your future cash position so if some actions are good for now they should also be beneficial in the future situation. Simulations and forecasting software can help with this. For example a simulation on your credit lines, changing interest rates and changing payment terms can be very interesting.

Floors and term

If you are with your bank for a long time there is probably nothing agreed about negative interest rates on your cash as this was not foreseen by banks 10 years ago. This gives you an opportunity to negotiate with the bank on your term for having cash. Some possibilities I have seen with my clients:

  • Floors in the interest rates. This does not necessarily have to be 0% floor
  • Thresholds: for example the first 10 mln no negative interest charge
  • Combinations of above
  • Spread between credit and debit amounts; a lower spread is often better.

Invest

Another option to reduce the interest charge on your cash is to invest the money. This is a sensible topic as most treasurers are risk averse. The more return is expected the higher the risk associated to the investment. Cash at a bank is considered fairly safe (given the cash is divided over several banks with a good credit rating and depending on the amounts). Furthermore the liquidity of the investment is important. Cash is readily available. If you invest the money it first has to exchanged or transferred to cash which can take time or can have an impact on the return. Most treasurers are prudent on investments and/or internal rules do not allow these.

Cash is still king

Overall looking at above cash is still king. For every company it is better to have cash then to be short on cash. However, having too much cash can hurt a company too as the return on cash balances is very low and in most cases negative. In these times the value of a treasurer looking at the cash balances and optimizing it uses (and return) is big. So does your company not have a dedicated person looking at the (excess) cash and the optimization of the cash now and in the future (cash forecasting) then it might be the time to a assign somebody on this task. In most cases the return on this person if positive (even though the interest rate is negative).

An external treasurer or flex treasurer can be of help too.

 

Patrick Kunz

Treasury, Finance & Risk Consultant/ Owner Pecunia Treasury & Finance BV

 

Do treasurers really need instant payments? some implications.

| 30-01-2018 | Patrick Kunz |

 

Per 13 January 2018 we have a new payments service directive (nr. 2) live in the European union, PSD2 for short. One part of PSD2 is the possibility for banks to offer instant payments between banks in the EU. Within max 10 seconds money flows from one bank to the other, also on weekends and on holidays. In this paper I want to discuss the implications for treasurers of instant payments.

Cash flow forecasting

Forecasting is an important part of the daily/weekly routine of a treasurer. He/she needs to predict the future to know his cash/risk/financing position. On the ultra-short term spectrum of this forecast a treasurer might use intraday bank statement (MT942) to take into account the incoming funds during the day. These are often updated hourly. With instant payments a treasurer can have a look at their bank account and the balance that is showing is the real-time balance with all incoming transactions being settled. As said before a treasurer might already have intraday statements but there is (1) a time lag in those and (2) there might be transactions not processed yet. Bottom line this difference amounts to several hours lag. Depending on the size of the company and the amount and size of transactions there is some impact but not very sizeable. Furthermore, those treasurers that do not use intraday balances for their forecasting have no impact of instant payments. However, how about the due payments on non-working days? In the future these are normal payments dates. Previously due payments on weekends are either set on Friday or Monday depending on the terms of the contract. These could now be forecasted on the exact day. But that depends, payments are often done during business hours, so it is possible that nothing changes. Depending on the size of the transactions there is importance to check this with your suppliers and clients. This also depends on bank processing of yourself and your client/supplier.

Bank processing

Instant means instant in time but also in days. In the past we were dependent on the opening hours of the banks and later of the ECB. That could mean that if we send money just after close on Friday and there was a public holiday on Monday we would only see the money coming in on Tuesday. The money was “lost in translation” in between. This is not very modern in an age where we send an email from Tokyo to South Africa in minutes but not money. We could literally fly there with cash and be faster. After all banks have implemented PSD2 money flows 24/7. So also in the weekend and on holidays.
This has an impact on the processing of your bank statement. You now receive bank statement for Saturday and Sunday. Most accounting/treasury departments do not work on the weekends so there is a chance that these statements are not processed. This means you must process 3 statements on Monday. Some companies have automatic processing of bank statements, so the weekend statements might be processed but not (automatically) consolidated leading to more open positions on Monday.
Ok big deal, there is more work to do on Monday due to more bank statements. But there is more: not necessarily for treasury departments. Think about customer services (helpdesk) departments. If a client with an overdue payment calls it would be great if the helpdesk employee is able to verify statements of the customers if the says he has paid or will pay immediately. This however only works if processing is automatic or if the helpdesk employee can access/search the incoming payments on the bank account (which might not have processed in accounting). Not all companies will have this yet.
Overdue calculations might be faulty in some ERP systems as only working days are considered. If a payment is due on Sunday, you can pay on this Sunday and not necessarily on the Friday before.

Conclusion

Instant payments are only a fraction of PSD2 which is often not very interesting for most treasurers. They get some information faster but that does not really help them too much. There is however more to it. Since payments can now arrive and be made in the weekends the cash flow forecasting should now contain 7 days in a week instead of 5. Payment can be spread out more but also receipts will be. Bank processing is more work; 7 daily statements per bank account per week instead of 5. Extra processing or extra automation needed. The extra information might be needed by other departments too even though the treasury/accounting department is not working.
Overall the implications could be bigger then you might think and are different for every company and depending on their existing (bank) processing.
Most bank are planning to introduce weekend reporting by H2 2018 while instant payments are due beginning 2019. For business transactions this might even take until H2 2019.
Some time left but a good time to already think about your current processes in comparison to the new reality under psd2. Treasury is moving to a 24/7 information economy. It’s about time.
Time will tell if there will be fintech’s stepping in helping with above issues with direct connections to the bank, which is another important part of PSD2 but not within the scope of this article.

If you need help with automating your bank statement processing or with your cash flow forecasting, then look at this author and other Flex Treasurers on this website for answers.

Patrick Kunz 

Treasury, Finance & Risk Consultant/ Owner Pecunia Treasury & Finance BV

 

Does your treasury have a digital mindset?

| 25-9-2017 | Patrick Kunz |

 

In an previous article I have talked about the IT changes that make life easier for a treasurer in the future (or now already). In this article I want to talk about the digital mindset of the person using the IT – the treasurer. Treasury is a numbers game. We treasurers use these numbers to optimise the cash or risk of the company. We make money with money. These numbers have to come from somewhere in the organisation and it is usually never treasury itself.

BIG data

Big data is a hot topic in treasury but for treasury it was around longer. The treasurer needs to get their input information for all over the company. Cash inflow from sales, cash outflow from procurement and investment teams, HR etc. All this data needs to be gathered. The digital minded treasurer thinks about optimal ways of gathering this data: automatically. The treasurer starts its day with the actual cash balances and then looks forward. He/She basically needs to predict the future. How great would it be if all this data would be available with the push on a button. An ideal world ? Maybe, but it is possible. Bank statements can be automated to be loaded collectively or in a Treasury Management System. The treasurer starts the day with up to date cash balances, and he has not started working yet as this was automated. He then updates the cash forecast. How? By pushing update in his cash forecasting system. Sounds too easy? True, it took weeks to find out where to find the needed input information and to automate getting this data grouped together and in a structured way. But a digital minded treasurer knows that the data is somewhere in the organisation; it only needs to found and linked to the treasurers information recourses so it is always available. The treasurer only has to check the validity and the quality of the data and see if it needs improvement. In this way the digital minded treasurer can automatically create a cash forecast and continually improve it. A cash forecast should be ready before the second morning coffee. In an ideal world it would be ready with a push on a button. Artificial intelligence makes it possible. The digital minded treasurer is steering it.

Process improvements

The digital treasurer looks at ways to improve its document flows and payments. Not only looking at costs but also looking at how many (manual) interventions are needed. FX deals can be setup to straight through processed (STP) while blockchain would make it possible to improve the speed of payments or document flows globally. Everything is connected, as payments go from a process to straight through and instant it has an immedicate effect on the cash availability and forecasting. While now the bank is the place to go for bank accounts and payments this might not be the case in 10 years. The digital treasury might be able to setup his own bank in the future. By using technology.

The future

The treasurer makes sure that he is on the steering wheel while technology makes it possible for him/her to check his surroundings so he does not crash. A bigger front window makes for a better view forward (forecasting), a higher max speed makes for quicker travel (updating changes in forecasting), adaptive cruise control saves effort on speeds control (automatic updating and AI, STP). The treasurer knows he needs to keep the engine running to keep moving. He also realises that he does not need to be a mechanic to do this; however he needs to be able to tell the mechanics quickly why the car is not moving as the treasurer wants it to be so the mechanic can fix this. Or maybe the digital treasurer might change the car for a plane in the future, or even a rocket?

It is clear that technology and treasury are interconnected. Already now and even more in the future. A treasurer therefore needs a digital mindset to survive and keep up with the information needs of his department and the company as a whole. And it’s not rocket science (yet).

Patrick Kunz 

Treasury, Finance & Risk Consultant/ Owner Pecunia Treasury & Finance BV

 





 

The IT savvy treasurer

Saving on FX deals? Often neglected but potentially a “pot of gold”

How much are you paying your bank?

 

Saving on FX deals? Often neglected but potentially a “pot of gold”

| 21-8-2017 | Patrick Kunz |

 

Doing business internationally often means dealing with foreign currency (FX). This poses a risk as the exchange rate changes daily, basically every second. To mitigate this risk a company can hedge the position via FX deals (discussed in a previous article). But what are the costs of those deals to companies?

 

FX deals

FX is traded on exchanges where only authorized parties have access to. This can be brokers or banks, the so called market makers. They can take your fx position for a give rate and they try to find a counterparty for the deal who is willing to take the opposite trade. For this effort (and risk as they might not be able to directly match the position) they ask a provision. This is the bid-ask spread; the spread between rate for buying and rate for selling the currency. The fx (mid) rate is determined by supply and demand.

The spread depends on several things:

  • Market liquidity; how many people are buying and selling and with what volume
  • Market timing; is the market open for that currency
  • Restrictions: some currencies have restrictions

For a company to trade FX they need an account with a party that has access to fx market makers. This is often a bank. This bank will take another bite out of the spread for their profit (and maybe risk as they might take the position on their books). The spread the bank will charge depends on how many deals and how much volume you will be doing. Sometimes it is an obligation to trade with the bank from a financing arrangement. For the big currencies for big clients the spread can be as low as 2-3 pips (0,0002/0,0003).

Trading FX seems to be without costs as the bank charges no fees. However, those fees are put into the fx rate. When doing spot deals it is easy to calculate them, it’s the difference between the traded rate and the then actual market spot mid rate. When doing forward deals or trading illiquid currencies it is harder to determine the spread. Always try to get to know the spread you are paying. The spread is basically the costs of the fx deal (for forward deals there is an interest component).

It therefore makes sense to always compare your FX rates and get quotes from several banks. Trading with a broker sometimes can be cheaper as one party in the process is eliminated. Savings can be up to 5% per deal (for exotic currencies), for the bigger currencies an average saving of 1% is possible. If you do several million worth on FX deals a year this is a big money saver.

Pecunia Treasury & Finance b.v. has an online fx trading platform backed by one of the biggest worldwide fx broker.

Patrick Kunz

Treasury, Finance & Risk Consultant/ Owner Pecunia Treasury & Finance BV

 

 

Risk Management – what does it mean

| 24-5-2017 | Patrick Kunz |

You might visit this site, being a treasury professional with years of experience in the field. However you could also be a student or a businessman wanting to know more details on the subject, or a reader in general, eager to learn something new. The ‘Treasury for non-treasurers’ series is for readers who want to understand what treasury is all about.
Our expert Patrick Kunz tells us more about an important task of a treasurer: Risk Management

Background

One of the main task of a treasury is risk management, more specifically financial risk management. This is still broad as financial risk can result from many origins. Treasury is often involved in the risk management of Foreign currency (FX), interest rates, commodity prices and sometimes also balance sheet/profit loss. Furthermore insurances are often also the task of the treasurer.

Exposure

To be able to know how to reduce a certain risk the treasurer first needs to know about the risk. Often risk positions are taken outside of the treasury department. The treasurer needs to be informed about these risk positions. FX and commodity price exposure is often created in sales or procurement while the interest rate risk is created in the treasury department itself (although this is not always the case). In an ideal world the treasurer would like to know an exposure right after it is created. Often IT solutions or ERP connections with treasury help with that.

Policy

Once the exposure is know the treasurer needs to decide whether it is a risk position or not and whether he wants to mitigate this risk by hedging it. Let me explain this with an FX example: A EUR company who buys goods in USD is at risk for movements in the EUR/USD rate. However, if the company is able to sell these goods at the same time they are bought (a sales organization), for  USD then the net exposure could be lower. Risk Exposure is therefore lower as only the profit needs to be hedged.

Risk appetite of the company determines if the treasurer needs to take action on certain risk exposure. Some companies hedge all their FX exposure. The reason for this is often because FX risk is not their core business and therefore not a business risk. Non-core risk needs to be eliminated. Commodity risk is sometimes not hedged as this is the company’s core business or a natural hedge as the companies is also producer/miner and seller of the commodity. Other companies have more risk appetite and hedge only amounts above a certain threshold. Due to internal information restrictions, delays or accounting issues and the fact that some currencies are not hedgable most multinationals always have some FX exposure. In the profit and loss statements you often see profit or losses from FX effect, either realized or non-realized (paper losses).

Hedging

Once you know the risk position the treasurer needs to determine how to reduce the risk of that position. He does that by hedging a position. A hedge is basically taking an opposite position from the risk. Preferably the correlation of these positions is -1 which means that both positions exactly move in opposite directions, thereby reducing the risk (ideally to 0). For FX the treasurer can sell the foreign currency against the home currency on the date the foreign currency is expected, either in spot (immediate settlement) or forward (in the future), removing the FX exposure into a know home currency exposure.

Certain vs uncertain flows

Important about hedging is the way you hedge. A hedge can commit you to something in the future or a hedge can be an optional settlement. This should be matched with the exposure. If the exposure is fully certain then you should use a hedge which is fully certain. If an exposure is only likely to happen (due to uncertainty) then you should use a hedge that is also optional.

Example1: a company has a 1 year contract with a steel company to buy 1000MT of steel every month at the current steel price every month. The goods need to be bought under the contract and cannot be cancelled. This company is at risk for the steel price every month because the steel price changes every day. The treasurer can hedge this with 12 future contracts (1 for every month) locking in the price of the steel for 1000MT. The future contract also needs to be settled every month matching the risk position. 0 risk is the result.

Example2: company X is a EUR company and looking to take over company Y, a USD company. The company needs to be bought for USD 100 mio. Company X has the countervalue of this amount in cash in EUR. The companies are still negotiating on the deal. Currently the EUR/USD is at 1,10. The deal is expected to settle in 6 months. Company X is at risk for a change in the EUR/USD rate. If the deal goes through and the rate in 6 months changes negatively then X needs more EUR to buy USD 100 mio. making the deal more expensive/less attractive. There is a need to hedge this. If this would be hedged with a 6M EURUSD forward deal the FX risk would be eliminated but there is still the risk that the deal is cancelled. Then X has the obligation out of the hedge to buy USD 100 mio. which they have no use for. This is not a good hedge. A better hedge would be to buy an option to buy USD 100 mln against EUR in 6 months. This instrument also locks in the EURUSD exchange but with this instrument the company has the option to NOT use the hedge (if the deal is cancelled) matching it ideally with the underlying deal.

Conclusion

For a treasurer to do effective risk management he needs information from the business to determine the risk exposure. Furthermore he needs to assess the certainty of this exposure; how likely is the exposure to happen. With this information, together with the pre-determined risk appetite (whether or not written down in a policy confirmed by senior management), the treasurer can decide if and how to hedge the position. The certainty of the exposure determines the hedging product that is used.

Hedging products can be complex. Banks can structure all kinds of complex derivatives as hedging products. It is the task of the treasurer to determine the effectiveness of a hedge; a treasurer if often expert in these product and their workings. Hedging could have impact on accounting and sometimes profit/loss consequences but that is beyond the scope of this article.

 

 

Patrick Kunz

Treasury, Finance & Risk Consultant/ Owner Pecunia Treasury & Finance BV