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With centralisation in treasury and other similar departments, such as Shared Service Centres or Payment Factories, a problem that very quickly shows itself is that of bank connectivity.Staff end up spending a lot of time each day logging on to bank systems for information and to give payment instructions. While there might be a trend to reduce the number of banks dealt with in these departments, there is always a limit. No one bank can service all the countries now found in multinationals and the credit crunch has highlighted some of the risks in focusing on just a few banks.
It may just be me, but it appears that the language of this credit crisis / recession has not only been mangled in the press and by commentators but at the same time entered public consciousness in ways that have not had the same impact as before. I’m thinking in particular of ‘market failure’.
Central BanksThe Bank of England, the European Central Bank and the US Fed have all been very active in stimulating their economies.
A recent editorial in The Treasurer magazine noted that investors are now more than ever looking for high standards of corporate governance in companies they invest in or lend to.
ACT Annual conferenceWe have just returned from the ACT’s Annual Conference in Manchester. This year was perhaps the most important conference we have held given the events in the world’s financial markets. We heard from a broad range of speakers – about treasury related issues of course but also about how treasurers should be reacting to the recent events and whether we are at the low point or whether we will see further bad times before markets and confidence improve.
There are some significant changes occurring this year in the euro payments arena i.e. developments on SEPA and the introduction of the Payment Services Directive (PSD).These, together with the need for companies to make savings and for banks to find new ways of making profit, will have considerable ramifications for corporate liquidity management.
Less confidence about the UK economy and expectation of a UK pensions crisis were the almost unanimous view of the excellent ACT Annual Conference in Manchester.John Humphrys, chaired a fascinating “Question Time” as the last conference session. A very well balanced panel (Paul Boyle, CEO of the Financial Reporting Council, Barbara Cassani, Executive Chairman of Jurys Inn, Trevor Williams, Chief Economist of Lloyds TSB, and Alastair Clark, former Executive Director and Advisor to the Governor, Bank of England).
Even if there seemed to be a dismal outlook for the UK economy, delegates at the ACT annual conference were able to gather lots of sound advice on how they could do their own bit to help their companies weather the storm ahead. The lack of bank lending capacity was certainly one theme but cash management and cash conservation was addressed in a direct response to this. In practical sessions, whether on treasury technology, risk, pensions and obviously cash management, the recurrent message was to focus on better use of cash within your group.
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