Treasurers must act or disappear - Editor's Blog -

Sometimes it is those who feel safest in the corporate world who are most at risk, writes Brian Caplen.

The corporate treasury tends to feel fairly secure about its long-term future. After all the team that handles the cash flowing around the company is hardly likely to be shown the door.

But the hard reality these days is that no one is immune from the onslaught of technology. Most treasury teams recognise that technology will change their business but, according to a new report from Nordea, too few are taking the lead in how this all comes about.

By lacking a long-term strategy they risk missing the bigger picture and getting left behind. The Nordea research discovered that while 98% of treasuries have a finance policy and 76% update it every year, only 14% of finance policies take technology into account. This means that even if there is a technology strategy it is not aligned with policy objectives.

The approach to technology is passive when it needs to be active. It is separate when it needs to be integrated.

One of the problems is that corporate treasuries are often isolated from the rest of the business. They may not have strong relationships with the new types of executives driving technology change – the chief digital officer, for example, or the chief innovation officer.

This adds to the risk of their being bypassed as digital transformation proceeds. Nordea’s head of transaction banking solutions, Claus Richter, said at Sibos that the problem was most acute with business-to-business firms, even though they were in industries being digitally transformed and where thinking needed to be done on how a new ecosystem should look and operate.

The Nordea report concludes that if treasuries don’t act soon it may be that substantial parts of the operation are automated – not just the dull admin tasks they would like to lose.

Meanwhile Nordea has its own problems with money-laundering allegations made by well-known Russia critic Bill Browder. The bank says it has yet to see the report that makes these allegations and will co-operate fully with the relevant authorities. The bank says it has invested hugely to combat money laundering and always reports suspicious activities.

Brian Caplen is the editor of The Banker. Follow him on Twitter @BrianCaplen

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