2,000 treasurers from more than 50 countries gathered to discuss ‘navigating the new world’ – the core theme of EuroFinance 2023. Join us for coverage from the front row in sunny Barcelona, as we learn from the best in the Payments business at this international event.
Day Two: The good advice keeps coming
Starting strong today as the ‘Women in Treasury networking breakfast’ encouraged attendees to reflect on their invisible strengths, and be empowered to use them to ignite your personal and professional passions. J.P. Morgan’s Veronique Steiner hosted the session, drawing on the field of positive psychology with Sheila Panchal, and inspiring the audience to uplift themselves and each other.
How to win in treasury
Moving then to trust and evolution, in ‘Optimal organizational alignment: navigating evolving risks in business delivery’. It may be old fashioned, moderator Daniel Blumen, asked but is it all about just knowing your business and knowing your people? And so began the most interesting deviation, as Naomi Holland (Aspen Treasury Ireland) and Rando Bruns (Merck KGaA) discussed how to forge a successful treasury career. In short:
Rando also emphasized that you don’t always need to be the expert, but get good at connecting the dots and reach out to peers to consolidate the interests of the business.
Pacing for SCF
Sustainability is a core theme on day two, with several sessions centring on the topic. In ‘SCF and sustainability: creating authentic relationships’, Haleon and PrimeRevenue discussed their strategy to develop their supply chain finance program. Self-described as a $30bn start up, Haleon began with ambitious targets with a clear eye on their challenges- not least of which was the economic landscape of the past two years.
However, it was the speed of transformation that brought the most frustration, with Carol Thuneer citing three main areas of blockage: legal negotiations, accounting treatment, and KYC. But as PrimeRevenue’s Mark Douglas explained, speed is good - but you need purpose, and to be deliberate. SCF is not easy; it’s not a light lift – and as practitioners know – it requires a deliberate and considered pace.
No going back
ESG was also at the fore as Teva Pharmaceuticals took to the stage with David Hanhart explaining the company’s journey to sustainably linked bonds (SLB). As a healthcare business that serves nearly 200 million patients each day1 with a core focus on generic medicines, David was keen to highlight their sustainable goals. Presenting the company’s case study of the $5bn ‘jumbo’ SLB, David stressed that it is a journey that only goes in one direction – there is no going back. However, with a plethora of Adam Smith Awards under his belt as a result, it’s likely that he doesn’t want to.
Horizons of today, tomorrow, and beyond
Cash forecasting has been a common theme across the entire event, but the appetite for learning is enormous, judging by the crowd at ‘Cash forecasting 2.0: evolution to liquidity planning’. A truly insightful session, it began on the premise that forecasting has changed. Keeping up with this change requires the need to forecast longer, and forecast better. The advice was clear in the evolution to liquidity planning:
Forecasting drivers for this year, the panel shared, are multi-faceted: Real time performance, your data strategy, enterprise liquidity, and minimized risk.
EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT:
The agenda for EuroFinance sets itself apart straight away with a clear focus on pure treasury: risk, liquidity, cash management and the role of the treasurer. Before we get into that, the great and the good gathered at J.P. Morgan’s breakfast briefing, diving straight in to the hot topic of Artificial Intelligence. Discussing the beginning of this AI transition were Alain Cauwenberghs (Markaaz) Beatriz Sanz Siaz (EY), James Kelly (Pearson) and a special guest visit from the esteemed Manuela Veloso, J.P. Morgan’s Global Head of AI Research.
The key takeaways from this early session explored how AI can help to tackle the most complex challenges and unlock new scenarios we never thought were possible. AI, the panel agreed, can help to identify business opportunities: standardize data, simulate complex processes, automates tasks which could unlock new potential.
The automation of treasury was also a focal point: what has been achieved already, and what are the more challenging tasks we still need to perfect? In short, AI can help us become smarter and faster about decision-making - and risk-taking.
A dangerous world…
Herman Van Rompuy, former Prime Minister of Belgium and former President, European Council, doesn’t make predictions any more, he told a packed main stage audience. Setting the scene for the three day event, he walked the crowd through the geopolitical landscape of the past 10 years – a heady mix of climate change, war and pandemics – and the impact that has had on global stability. It’s a dangerous world, he said, and his key learning from years of politics was: “expect the unexpected”. EuroFinance always like to kick off the conference with a world view, and this one did not disappoint. Lots to consider as we move into the details of payments, treasury and the corporate world.
…or a Barbie one
It’s not often that the world of film and treasury intersect, but Mattel’s Mandana Sadigh definitely brought the A-List as she discussed, ‘Treasury strategy: powering competitiveness’ alongside Under Armour’s Mack Makode and Amazon’s Tony Masone. This insightful session was about more than block busting movies though, starting with the fundamentals of treasury and moving to the difference between risk management and strategy. All panelists brought their own unique experiences to the table, with Tony highlighting Amazon’s recent Adam Smith Award for cash forecasting to emphasize the increasing importance of AI. However, all agree that the basics are where treasurers can win; as Mandana wisely put it: “Credibility becomes your currency in the tough times – and you need to build it before you need it. You have to prepare for the worst and hope it doesn’t happen”.
Treasury says no
What does the modern treasury team look like now? J.P. Morgan’s Paul Greenhalgh asked the panel from PayPal, TechnoGym Spa and Pearson. The questions came thick and fast – ranging from the evolution of the role of the modern treasurer, to considering the role for proactive advisory. TechnoGym’s Antonio Lorosso had at least some of the answers: “We used to be seen as a wall – ‘treasury says no – but now we can be more supportive of the business”. There is a need to stay close to the business, they agreed, facilitating innovative problem-solving across jurisdictions. This central positioning can be used to steer organizational thinking around problems, and add value where you can. This move to a strategic business partner was echoed across all discussions, and questions from the audience, who clearly see the shift first-hand.
No longer ‘no’, but ‘let’s go’.
Agents of change
In a first for EuroFinance, the event took on a new direction, with the launch of the new ‘Agents of Change’ award, supported by J.P. Morgan. Celebrating the rising stars of treasury, this is the first year of the awards, developed to showcase the next generation of talent.
Introducing the initiative J.P. Morgan’s Shahrokh Moinian expressed delight at the volume of nominations and interest that came from across the industry. Agents of Change is the recognition of a new campaign to champion the evolving role of the treasurer.
Taking to the stage, he lauded a new class of leader, one that inspires their organization as well as the industry. The quality of submissions resulted in three highly commended winners (Deborah Naegele, Dürr AG; Noah Faase, Anheuser-Busch InBev; Julien Viala, Carrefour) as well as the overall winner, Nicolas Panayi from OSM Thome.
The stellar judging panel from Nike, SAP SE, Repsol and EuroFinance, chose Nicholas following his endeavours to build a treasury team from scratch in just five years – taking on a very traditional shipping industry and building relationships across his business. A worthy winner indeed.
The new advisor
We end the day with a panel that features some serious heavyweights: J.P. Morgan, Bank of America and HSBC. They were gathered to discuss, ‘Treasury expansion: building the banking blueprint’ and there was much to learn. On the question of banks’ resilience, J.P. Morgan’s Ambar Morshed said: “Scalability and operational resiliency are the key questions from our clients. We talk about speed, but a lot of our clients want certainty. This is what we need to deliver to client, before we even think about innovation.”
HSBC’s Bianca Goni also revealed her clients’ areas of interest: High interest rates, inflation, how to manage cash – having accessibility to that cash – are the key issues with clients. Resilience is important too”.
Fintech partnerships, ESG and the core focus of operational efficiencies were also top of mind for the panel. But fundamentally, the core role of the treasurer hasn’t changed and is still concerned with protecting the organization. But, the panel shared, the role of advising the business is new – elevating treasury to become a center of excellence in this brave new world.
EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT:
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