Treasury in transition: Reflections on EuroFinance 2022
28 September 2022
As delegates reconvened in person at EuroFinance 2022 in Vienna following a two-year pandemic-related hiatus, the event’s key themes were treasury readiness to navigate a choppy external environment and harnessing digital developments to improve efficiency, reach and transparency. flow shares reflections from Deutsche Bank participants
Bringing together more than 2,000 treasury professionals, 150 world-class speakers and over 100 exhibitors, the 31st annual EuroFinance Annual Conference in Vienna, Austria was a welcome opportunity to reunite in person with friends, clients and suppliers. As Christof Hofmann, Deutsche Bank’s Global Head of Corporate Cash Management commented during the event, “It’s great to see the treasury community coming back together again in person – it’s been a long time.”
“Meeting together has brought a new energy across the treasury community”
Treasurers welcomed the industry leadership and best practices explored during the conference sessions within the overall theme of ‘Treasury in transition’, and their enthusiasm for reconnecting in person was evident after two years of virtual alternatives. Benjamin Madjar, Head of Cash Management Sales and Structuring, EMEA at Deutsche Bank noted, “Meeting together has brought a new energy across the treasury community. At the same time, many treasurers have implemented digital solutions at pace to meet challenges arising from the pandemic, and our sense is that this sense of pragmatism has continued.”
EuroFinance 2022 was opened by Guy Verhofstadt, a member of the European Parliament and former prime minister of Belgium. In his keynote talk, he reflected on the ‘New World order’ that has set in due to the Russia/Ukraine conflict and how this has impacted energy and food security, as well as geopolitics and the wider global economy.
Treasury priorities and trapped cash
With Verhofstadt’s keynote setting the tone, it was no surprise that geopolitical and macroeconomic challenges dominated this year’s client conversations. As EuroFinance’s own news report put it at the end of Day 1, “Amid a lingering energy crisis, accelerating commodity inflation, supply chain bottlenecks and geopolitical instability, treasurers are scrambling for solutions to mitigate their businesses. From leveraging technology to collaborating with partners – the treasury is truly in transition.”1 Attendees had many questions and observations on the impact on supply chains and global growth ambitions, and the implications of rising interest rates and inflation on borrowing and investment strategies. As a result, the Day 1 panel session, ‘Treasury priorities in this uncertain world’ proved popular, where Deutsche Bank’s Christof Hofmann and Antonio Fernandez-Montes, Head of Markets and Treasury at energy producer Repsol SA took a closer look at Economist Impact research on these issues.
Following this session, attendees approached Deutsche Bank to discuss ways to position their organisations in weathering current challenges and change. Hofmann explains, “Themes such as treasury centralisation, in-house banking and virtual accounts are clearly topical. Although they are not new, treasurers are looking at these opportunities in new ways given the evolution of technology and renewed emphasis on increasing visibility and control over cash and global operations.” Rationalising banks, accounts and localised processes plays an important role in achieving this, he believes.
Likewise, in an environment where access to liquidity is critical, Juliette Yim, Deutsche Bank’s Head of MNC Regional Cash Sales for Asia Pacific shared essential best practices in the session “Caught in a Cash Trap” on optimising the use of “trapped” cash in regulated and semi-regulated markets. Speaking on Day 2 in Discovery Lab 2: All things working capital, Yim commented, “It's important for treasurers to constantly look for ways to optimise cash management, within the boundaries of global banking regulatory frameworks, to free up trapped cash” a theme she picks up In the flow article ‘Setting free the cash’.
Trust and innovation
While cash, liquidity and risk management in an uncertain environment continue to dominate their priorities, treasurers are still looking ahead and open to exploring new innovations. Madjar outlines, “Treasurers are key partners within their organisations to enable digital business models such as direct-to-consumer (D2C) and marketplace-driven sales. They also want to understand evolving initiatives, such as digital currencies and emerging opportunities in blockchain-based technologies to address treasury challenges.”
With both resourcing pressures and a challenging external environment, treasurers are looking for guidance and support from their trusted banks and technology vendors, to provide input to and validate their digital roadmap. Hofmann explains, “The way that banks and suppliers have supported clients during and beyond the geopolitical crisis is now proving crucial for treasurers when defining their bank and supplier strategy. Now more than ever, treasurers are thinking closely about their choice of trusted partners.”
The focus on trusted partners is influencing not only who treasurers choose to work with, but also how they work with them. Madjar emphasises, “Clients clearly appreciate the value of the bank’s co-creation approach, spending time understanding their challenges, focusing on problem-solving, and working in a highly collaborative way to create pragmatic, reliable and secure solutions.”
As delegates look ahead to next year’s EuroFinance Annual Conference from 27 to 29 September 2023 in Barcelona, this year’s new ideas and connections are once more helping treasurers along the right track to meeting their treasury objectives for the year ahead.
The 31st annual EuroFinance International Treasury Management event took place in Vienna Austria 21–23 September 2022
Treasurers congregate at the Deutsche Bank EuroFinance stand in Vienna
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