Treasurers’ mettle is tested during volatile times but not many of us would have wished for today’s highly uncertain conditions in order to create opportunities for the exercise of good professional treasury management.
Markets continue to develop in unexpected ways, and clearly the experience differs greatly depending on geography. Within the UK the field of pensions still raises challenges for all of us. Our annual Pensions Conference is on 26 June and its title “Maintaining the balance in challenging conditions” remains as relevant now as it was when we launched the event. The absence of any stability on both the asset and liability side, together with continuing changes in the regulatory and governance context, should make the conference fascinating.
We were delighted to be able to invite Jon Moulton to speak at the ACT Spring Paper a couple of weeks ago. Jon’s trenchant views have been widely aired and attendees heard his predictably forthright analysis of what has gone wrong and what markets need to learn from recent history.
Jon argued that if transactions are so complex that the regulators cannot regulate them, then perhaps the underlying activities should be limited. I thought this was a fascinating extension of the old principle that if the treasurer cannot explain a transaction to the finance director in a couple of sentences then it should not be allowed to be implemented. The messages to take away were clear:
- recognise the new inter-connectedness of markets
- be wary of complexity
- undertake their own analysis
- not rely solely on credit ratings
- (and at least in the UK) be prepared for an enduring difficult economic outlook
Against the rather sombre external background, the ACT has begun its new financial year with changes in the “officer” roles. David Swann (BAT) is now our President, Gerry Bacon (Vodafone) is Deputy President and Matthew Hurn (Mubadala) the Vice President. I am delighted that in keeping with our increasingly international focus and delivery, two of the three officers are based outside the UK. David is in Amsterdam and Matthew in Abu Dhabi; needless to say we will be making rather more use of teleconferencing than has previously been the case!