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

Corporate Governance and Treasury | Embrace the Corporate Treasury Policy

| 18-02-2020 | François de Witte | treasuryXL |



Corporate Governance

Corporate Governance is a mechanism through which boards and directors can direct, monitor and supervise the conduct and operation of the corporation and its management in a way that ensures appropriate levels of authority, accountability, stewardship, leadership, direction and control.

The ultimate responsibility for Treasury management within an organization lies with the board of directors. Due to the practicalities and technical aspects involved in corporate treasury, the board typically delegates the daily management of risk to responsible individuals in each department. In the case of financial risks, many of these are delegated to the treasurer.

Whilst, due to its specific activities, the corporate treasurer needs to take a lot of actions and decisions independently, it is important that he does this within a framework and Governance. Quite a lot of corporates have formalized this in a “Corporate Treasury Policy”.

Corporate Treasury Policy

The Corporate Treasury Policy is the mechanisms by which the board, or risk management committee (RMC), can delegate financial decisions in a controlled manner. This document should be a summary of all the principles approved by the Board or the Financial Committee of the Board as a mandate of the Board to the treasurer (the Treasury Mandate).

The Corporate Treasury Policy is a framework document, which covers the following areas:

Organization of the Treasury Function

In most of the companies, the Corporate Treasury Reports to the CFO. The CFO is usually himself a Member of the Executive Committee, which itself reports directly to the Board of Directors. (Treasurer – CFO – Treasury Committee – Audit Committee – Board):

A policy should set out clearly which decisions are delegated to the treasurer and when the treasurer should refer a decision back to the board or other person within the organization. Within several corporate, the Board of Directors have delegated the decision process to dedicated committee, like the Risk Committee, and the Liquidity and Funding Committee.

Treasury Control Framework (including the Code of Conduct)

Procedures and controls to manage the risk should be put in place to provide an overall framework for decision-making by the treasury team.

Ideally, this should also include a code of conduct. The Corporate Treasurer should act as a Corporate Custodian. In other words, he is Protector of the company’s assets, and should act according to a strict Code of Conduct and Ethics. There exist examples of codes developed by professional organizations such as IGTA, ATEB, AFTE, ACT and ATEL.

Liquidity and funding

The board should be informed about funding possibilities to put currency, maturity, cost and equity/debt character into a wider context. The board should decide on the strategy but can delegate fund raising decisions and actions to treasury. However, I recommend that Treasury asks the final board approval for strategic decisions (e.g. major syndicated loans, bond issues, etc.).

The board should have an overall view on the liquidity risk of the company. The Board should also define the financial policy, covering the gearing and maturity issues, fixed and variable interest rate obligations, dividend policy and covenants.

Banking Relationship

Banks chosen by the treasurer must be able to meet the needs of the organization, both domestically and internationally. I recommend that the Board approves annually criteria for selecting the banks with whom it will work.

Risk Management

The Treasurer must identify the various risks to which the company is exposed, quantify the impact, and should inform the Board thereof. He should estimate the size of these exposure risks and their impact on the he overall operations and financial performance of the company, and make recommendations in these areas

The board must approve the hedging policy, the company’s foreign exchange, interest rate and commodity risk management policy and its attitude to risk. It should define which part of the risks must be hedged and the hedging horizon. I recommend that the Treasurer submits at regular intervals to the Board the list of authorized instruments, the amount per instrument and their term

Investment Policy – Counterparty Credit Risk

The board should approve the treasury’s Investment policy including the choice of instruments, the list of counterparties used + the maximum amount/counterparty & maturity. It is recommended that the Board provides guidelines and limits per instrument.

It is recommended that the Board approves the guidelines for fixing counterparty limits, and maximum exposure per counterparty.

Authorized instruments and Arrangements – Authorized Approvers

The Treasurer should make sure that the board must understands and approve the strategies and instruments used and sets guidelines for the appropriate limits for their use. These guidelines need to ensure that treasury has not sacrificed long-term flexibility or

survival for short-term gain, especially in view of the volatile financial market’s situation.

Treasury Operational Risk

The treasurer should make the Board aware of the operational risks to which the company is exposed. He should provide recommendations in this area. Furthermore, the treasurer should also submit recommendations to the board on the treasury organization and the ways to reduce the operational risks.

Monitoring

A Corporate Treasury Policy has only sense, if there is a regular follow up and control framework; Hence procedures and controls to manage the risk should be put in place to provide an overall framework for decision-making by the treasury team.

It is also important to provide to the Board a regular update on the way the treasurer complies with the policy. The policy should also be regularly reviewed.

Treasury must alert the board to external changes and internal strategic developments, which may have long-term implications for the organization and make proposals for managing them.

The policy needs also to be reviewed at regular intervals each “Policy” in function of the market and of other internal or external developments. I recommend having treasury on the Board’s agenda on a quarterly basis.

Conclusion

Treasury is not an island in the company. It is closely linked to the corporate governance. Hence it is important to define the right framework.

I recommend to corporates to put in place a treasury policy validated by the Board of Directors and reviewed regularly. It is important to update the Board at regular intervals about strategic topics, such as strategic financing topics and risk management.

The treasurer has also an important educational role, as he must be able to make complex treasury topics understandable for the board members.

Hence there must be a good interaction between the treasurer, the CFO and the Board is key, where the Treasurer is the linking pin.

 

François de Witte
Founder & Senior Consultant at FDW Consult
Managing Director and CFO at SafeTrade Holding S.A.
treasuryXL ambassador

Top 5 most common pain points in Treasury

14-02-2020 | treasuryXL | Michael Ringeling

The purpose of Treasury is to manage a company’s funding, liquidity and to mitigate its financial and other risk. Made up of three sub-disciplines, Treasury’s overall objective is to safeguard the company’s holdings and to follow the long-term strategy set forth by Corporate Finance (and strategy). Cash Management, on the other hand, is primarily focused on operational, short-term, efficiency and process optimisation, whereas Risk Management is oriented towards financial research and operational controls.

Michael Ringeling, corporate treasury expert,  made a top 5 of the most common pain points he encounters in Treasury, including consequences and a solution.

Top 5 of the most common pain points in Treasury

 

  1. Too many bank accounts at too many banks

Consequence:
Complex to manage, poor control, higher risk of fraud, higher costs, more KYC/AML requirements

Solution:
Less bank accounts at fewer banks, all via one or two electronic banking systems or multibank platform to manage payments and cash flows. The result will be more efficient, more secure and more cost-effective payment transactions, reporting and reconciliation into the ERP system.

  1. No reliable cash flow forecast

Consequence:
Poor liquidity management. Insecure about the required short and long term funding and poor management information.

Solution:
A good cash flow forecast, providing adequate insight in the organisation’s short and long term cash flows, will contribute to an efficient funding strategy and lower cost of funds.

  1. FX results, (negatively) impacting the company’s P&L

Consequence:
The company’s financial results are impacted by unforeseen and unknown FX results

Solution:
FX risk management analyses, create a FX policy and perform deal execution (hedging) to control FX results

  1. New Loan Agreement needed – negotiations

Consequence:
Difficulties in assessing if the loan terms and conditions are fair. Risk of overpriced loans and/or unfavorable terms and conditions required by the bank(s).

Solution:
Assist the company when negotiating with the bank(s) to get a fair deal with terms and conditions that will not unnecessary limit the company’s flexibility.

  1. Cash is trapped on too many stand alone bankaccounts around the world

Consequence:
Company cannot effectively use a significant amount of cash, resulting in higher (short term) loans and higher interest costs.

Solution:
Implementation of a cross border cross currency cash pool to centralise the company’s cash balances. As a result the amount of local trapped cash will be reduced and that cash can be used for general corporate purposes. Less short term loans and lower interest costs.

Sounds familiar?

Do you recognize the pain points that we mention above in your business? Or are you experiencing other critical treasury pain points in your business?

In our active network there are several treasury experts who can offer treasury support. They can be hired for specific projects or on a regular basis. Check Rent a Treasurer and let us help you.

 

Michael Ringeling

Corporate Treasurer Expert