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I have always argued that treasurers’ mettle is tested during volatile times but I do not think that 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.
Dealing with change in a volatile world was the title for our annual conference that has just finished in Edinburgh. Back in the middle of 2007 when we started planning for the event I doubt any of us anticipated just how topical our content would be – and how appropriate would be the contribution of our keynote speakers.
It will be obvious that we at the ACT just like all organisations have a strong interest in the health of the financial sector and the wider economy. Although I have described before how market ‘stress’ should bring out the best in the professional corporate treasurer, nonetheless the overall prosperity of our members’ employers – and therefore the chance to grow and develop careers – is of paramount concern. The combination of individuals’ career experience to-date and success with the ACT’s qualifications – where rigorous but fair assessment is a key distinguishing feature – equips our members to respond to
In the ACT we have a wide range of stakeholders and we try to ensure their interests always have a major influence on our actions and our priorities. Our stakeholders are diverse, ranging from new candidates for our qualifications through to members who remain with us well into portfolio careers or full retirement; but there are many other stakeholder groups, a key one of which includes the large number of members who are mid-career and have expectations of the ACT that go beyond what may have begun with a relatively narrow view of the treasury profession.
I was delighted to see Rexam announced as the overall winner of the Deals of the Year awards of 2007. Deals of the Year Rexam’s success demonstrates the ability of the profession to add shareholder value; this puts the treasurer at the centre of the organisation’s financial strategy and this is exactly where we want the ACT’s members to be. We also recognised the importance of treasury skills in a new award for Treasury Team of the Year which was won by Vodafone. We celebrated all the winners of the Deals of the Year awards at an excellent evening in
The return to work at the beginning of January may have been an unusually sobering experience for many of us. The banks have passed the calendar year end without apparent funding pressures, but it is clear that difficult times remain. Stress in the financial markets and the wider economic consequences that are following seem likely to last longer than many had initially expected. With the passing of time the phrase “credit crunch” is becoming part of everyday speech, even if the words are an inadequate descriptor of what has really driven events of the last four or five months. The key
Recent months have surely demonstrated the value of sound financial strategy in treasury. Experience has emphasised the importance of modelling and planning for financial flexibility in bad times as well as good. Despite the dire comments in the media and the regular news of financial institutions reporting large loss provisions, our soundings show that treasurers have reacted calmly, whilst clearly remaining circumspect.
The ACT’s offices in Moorgate are directly above the City branch of Northern Rock. We therefore had a remarkable – and hopefully, just once in a lifetime – opportunity to observe an old fashioned “run on the bank” developing, much as we had studied in Economics 101. The queues and the attendant media phalanx inconvenienced ACT staff just a little but helped underline that we at the ACT should be monitoring and assessing the crisis.