Managing treasury risk : Risk Management (Part I)

| 23-1-2017 | Lionel Pavey |


There are lots of discussions concerning risk, but let us start by trying to define what we mean by risk.
It is a negative event that can potentially lead to loss or liability; it is exposure to uncertainty; it is a deviation from the expected outcome. It can be caused by people, changes in the law, products used in day-to-day activity to facilitate the business. Risk is not an uncertainty – it is a “known unknown”



Risk arises in every activity of a company and, therefore, a procedure of risk assessment has to be determined within a company and controls implemented. We can conclude that a risk management policy is a crucial part of the risk management function. The policy provides a framework – and details the framework – for decision making, whilst adhering to the company’s agreed viewpoint on risk.

Risk Management

A risk management policy can be very extensive as it relates to all risks faced by a company – we shall only focus on the risk relating to treasury operations. Treasury risk policy should be developed by the Treasury department, together with management, and approved by the board of directors. Once approved and implemented, the policy should be regularly reviewed and amended to ensure that it effectively meets the changing risks as the company advances.

Core criteria

The core criteria for undertaking the policy include:

  1. Providing a framework (matrix) for financial decision making
  2. Defining a policy for identifying and controlling risk
  3. Confirmation of the objectives and restrictions set by the board of directors and management
  4. Safeguarding the interests of stakeholders
  5. Enabling the reporting and measurement of treasury risk to the board of directors and management

Strategic components

Strategic components related to the policy include:

  1. Objectives
  2. Standards of care
  3. Authority and Responsibility
  4. Requirements for third party providers
  5. Types of transactions
  6. Constraints on transactions
  7. Reporting
  8. Policy review process
  9. Benchmarking

Major treasury related risks that shall be discussed in my next articles include:

  • Interest rate risk
  • Foreign Exchange risk
  • Commodity risk
  • Credit risk
  • Operational risk
  • Liquidity risk

A search through Google will show more risks, but we are attempting to show and discuss the main types of risk in treasury operations.

In the rest of the series, we shall elaborate on the above 6 major treasury related risk categories.

“Risk comes from not knowing what you are doing” – Warren Buffett

Lionel Pavey



Lionel Pavey

Cash Management and Treasury Specialist



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