Winds of Change

The Asia Treasury Leaders’ Forum, 19 September 2018 As Typhoon Manghut blew through East Asia causing all kinds of disruption and damage, the ACT events team flew into Hong Kong for our 10th year of events. More than 220 treasury professionals turned up on a lovely, sunny and very warm day to debate the future of treasury excellence. The format this year was dominated by shorter, punchy sessions on all the issues that a contemporary treasurer has to contend with. The US$ 500bn question that dominates the region currently is the game being played out between China and the US

No cash management, no long-term future

Cash management is often seen as the routine part of the job, the bit where process can be perfected and no-one in the company takes much interest until something goes wrong, like a supplier is not paid. That is a myth! Cash management is the glue which holds the company together and it is the start of the whole strategic process. It’s also a way for the treasurer to get their foot in the door of operations and really find out what is going on. Funding the company is arguably the only job which the treasurer must always get right

Year-end cash management

2014 It seemed to go much better this time. After a number of companies had to scramble to place sterling and euro cash at year-end 2012 and there being some pressure at end 2013, ACT Policy & Technical have the impression that more attention from all sides has meant 2014 year-end has seemed unremarkable.

Wholesale bank deposits made hot money

If treasurers did not know before, corporate (wholesale) bank deposits have become of much higher risk, with subordination to secured and preferred creditors of banks.

Here is what I wrote in the April edition of Financial World ( – since when we can add “bail-in” to hazards facing wholesale deposits. Financial World, April 2013, Page 22: John Grout describes why moves to make banks more resilient could cut funding to the real economy and stoke the problem of hot money in shadow banking.

Tax deductibility of interest cost and liquidity

The dangers of excessive leverage – by consumers, financial and non-financial companies, and governments – are commonly referred to by economists and politicians. Sometimes they go on to talk about removing the “perverse” incentive for companies to favour debt over equity: the tax deductibility of interest charges.

Financial economics may tell us that – risk adjusted – the cost of corporate debt is the same as that of corporate equity, other things being equal (no liquidity differences, no taxes, etc. etc.).

Corporations as lenders / supply chain finance

Banks are very much the part of the financial universe under the spotlight at the moment. There are so many changes affecting them, from regulation, retail separation and political pressure on wages and bonuses, to euro zone pressure and recessionary risks of lending, that we are all becoming scared that they will not be able to act like banks and lend to corporations. Much effort, including from the ACT, is therefore to understand the implications of this and one path to follow is to investigate how non bank corporations might fill the gap left by bank lending.

Bank relationships

The approach to bank relationships is at the core of a treasurer’s agenda and should from part of an overall financial strategy. For example, if a firm decides that leverage is required to earn equity type returns for its investors, then it must be able to find a source of debt finance for that leverage. So, unless it can rely totally on bond or other markets, it must need banks to provide that leverage. It is also a very personal part of a treasurer’s job, and also on the bank’s part, as links between corporate and bank boil down to