Karen (00:01):Hey, Alison, thanks for joining me today. I'm looking forward to our video chat about the global trends for 2021 and the implications for treasurers trying to navigate what has become a very digital-first way of working and managing their capital and liquidity. So, thanks for making the time.Alison Livesey- EMEA (00:21):My pleasure, Karen, thanks so much for having me. It's great to be able to talk to you.Karen (00:25):Yes. So here we are in 2021, still feels a lot like 2020. I don't know about you, but certainly does feel the same, but there are some trends that are certainly influencing the direction of business, but also, the direction for treasurers that are trying to manage, as I mentioned, liquidity positions and the ins and outs of what it means day-to-day to do their functions with the best possible tools available to them. What are those six trends as you've identified them? And then we'll talk about the implications.Alison Livesey- EMEA (01:01):Yeah, absolutely. And thanks. As we've thought about 2021 and everything that we see out there, as you said, we've identified these six trends we really think are going to be driving forces in the landscape over the next 12 months and possibly even longer. The first of these is global synchronized recovery in the economy. We were really seeing a strengthening in the second half of this year and emerging markets leading the way. Secondly, acceleration and the M&A activity that’s due to that ripe environment with rising liquidity, low interest rates, among other factors. Thirdly, various factors influencing the supply chain and continuing to see companies and clients seem to really boost to the resiliency of that supply chain. And that's clearly been a topic that we've been talking about a lot. I think the fourth one, and probably obvious and something we probably all feel individually, but that real significant leap that we've made. And in the digital shift, that digitization of business models, much more of an increase in digital adoption and many, many more goods and services that previously weren’t online and have now shifted online with some speed. I think fifth is the treasury and finance transformation. So many of our clients have spent a lot of time thinking entirely themselves, what transformation do they need to do? What are the new digital or innovative solutions that they can use to make their lives easier? And then the final one is ESG. And we've really seen that gain momentum globally. I'd say probably the last six plus months, you've seen a lot of focus on environmental, but we've really seen a lot more focus on social. So, when we think about this year and the following 12 months, those are the trends that we're really focused on and that we've seen driving for treasurers.Karen (02:51):Alison let's get back to the beginning. So many of these are being driven by COVID, the pandemic, and what has been the reaction on the part of people and businesses and governments to try to manage the consequences of the pandemic and the health crisis and the financial crisis that, frankly, it has created. How many of the trends really are an acceleration of things that were already underway, and how many of them are really because COVID has created such a shock to the global economic and financial situation?Alison Livesey- EMEA (03:32):Yeah, that's a really good question. I think actually a lot of them were underway as trends for sure, but I think there are a few of them, digitization and digital transformation. I think supply chain that had definitely been bolstered or kind of risen exponentially in terms of coming to the top of a to-do list. So, you're right. They've always been there, but I think what we, what we're seeing is, is just that reprioritization or that urgency and that acceleration and the need to be really agile and transformative with speed. And I think it's the shifting business models that are really impacting how treasurers are thinking about those.Karen (04:13):And also, I think even the, the uncertainty, frankly, about the recovery—I mean, I know we're all hopeful that there is this rebound and recovery in the second half of 2021—but that is very much dependent upon vaccine rollouts and the consistency of that in different parts of the world. So, there is still that uncertainty that all businesses and obviously treasures and financial leadership has to factor into their planning and forecasting.Alison Livesey- EMEA (04:44):I think that's why it's so important to think broadly, think widely and then really zone in on your priorities when you think about all that risk that the corporation is managing. What can the treasurer do? What part do they play? almost like a resetting of what their treasury priorities are.Karen (06:17):Speaking of priorities, obviously there are the core priorities that never go away: Safety, security, the ability to look at a cash position at any given point in time and be able to forecast accurately. But what are some of the priorities that have risen to the top that in a different time may not have been quite as urgent?Alison Livesey- EMEA (06:40):Great question. From our perspective, we're seeing a couple. I think the first one is supply chains and resiliency of a company's supply chain, and we saw through the pandemic headaches and breaks in those supply chains. But also I think pre-pandemic, there were examples of tensions in with the U S and China and restrictions, you know, created this soybean kind of restriction and friction, and actually, Brazil, you know, really was looking for more there and this created this whole new dynamic. So, I think there's all sorts of different supply chain examples that we've seen. And I think as, as the economy starts to rebound, and as move forward. I think making sure that those supply chains are resilient and really ready to capture either the demand that comes back or new business opportunities. It's going to be incredibly important for companies. And as we've talked to some of our clients, who've been talking about digitization of that supply chain. So clearly, you know, the pandemic has shown us that that is absolutely critical, but also how do you think about using more online tools, whether it's online bank tools or industry tools. How do you think about digitization and shifting towards digitalization real-time payments, ACH? Secondly, you know, how do you think about the health of your suppliers? And I think that speed is something that's really kind of come into force this year. Who in your supply chain is critical, who might you consider to be at risk and how do you think about your treasury processes below that? And then I'll say just generally revisiting that in a supply chain process, partnering with procurement to really analyze and understand those geopolitical risks that you might have in your existing sourcing strategy. And then, you know, what we've also talked to clients around is short term solutions that don't really require any heavy resource commitments. So, discounting LC’s or enrolling in supply chain finance program. So, when you think about that supply chain, that's been an element that we spent a lot of time on, it has really risen up the up the chain.Karen (08:53):Can I, sorry, can I just stop you there with the supply chain? Because I do agree with you that that is a big area of friction and, you know, they're being rearchitected, digitized, rearchitected, the ability of moving payments and data together along the supply chain, so that the access to information, and therefore, the visibility into where funds are, and where and when funds are going to be received is becoming more important because the paper part of it, it's not necessarily a completely digital process in and of itself. So, making that a digital process becomes a high priority.Alison Livesey- EMEA (09:31):Absolutely. And that's one of the things that we're really focused on is looking at those component parts and what we can do to help clients, because it's absolutely critical. And as companies emerge out of the crisis, that's one of the things that they want, an area where we want to make sure that our clients are really emerging stronger. Karen (11:45):Alison what about who's at the table when all of these decisions are being made about supply chain, about business models, about new ways of bringing products to market, new types of billing arrangements for products. Our treasurers now and finance leads, are they part of the conversation or are they the receivers of information about what has already happened, and they have to sort of figure it out from there?Alison Livesey- EMEA (12:12):Great question. And actually, I think they're much more part of the conversation now, and I think it isn't just treasurers and this is one thing that we've been thinking about and that we really spend some time considering about in the ecosystem of our client, who are those different people that we need to connect with and we need to understand. And the treasurer is absolutely one key component of that, but it's also the cash management team and it's the procurement team as we talked about, but it's also the technologist. Maybe there's a digital officer and all these different roles that people are playing. We're seeing the importance of making sure that we're connecting in to all the different parts of our clients as those kinds of conversations that are coming together. And so, I think treasurers very much are at the table and bringing that perspective. And I think particularly in a time like this, with this increased focus on liquidity, and that's such a key part of that entire ecosystem and chain. So absolutely, we're seeing a much broader group of people, but absolutely treasurers as being in there.Karen (13:10):When we talk about real time, there are two elements of real time. It's the payments settlement to payment, obviously. And then it's the access to data. If you were to ask treasurers, which of the two is more important, how would they respond?Alison Livesey- EMEA (13:26):I think they would probably respond that both are equally important. And I would almost argue that you need both to be successful. And one without the other is probably quite challenging. So, when we talk to treasurers about this treasury on demand—and we've talked to them beyond just the real-time payment component—but it's also, like you say, the real-time information, the real time liquidity and that 24 by seven processing. And I think all of those really need to come together to make real-time payments successful. And thinking about when we sit down and brainstorm with our clients, thinking about what are the use cases, what is it that you're trying to solve for? And how do we think about all the different pieces in that chain and how we how that impacts treasury or, or different parts of the organization. And what we've seen, it's interesting, but as we think about real-time payments and that real shift, some of the data that we've seen kind of suggests that the consumers are really kind of expecting and wanting much more of that real-time payment piece. And so again, to changing business models, you know, I saw something that said people receiving government payments, 25 percent today receive the payment from the government by an instant payment, but actually 35 percent would like to. Or on the insurance segment, you know, 11 percent, but 30 percent would like to. And I think that consumer switch, if you like, and that's consumer mentality, as we think about changing kind of business models and buying behavior is also what's going to drive this. And so, I think it's all those pieces. And certainly, we talk about needing the two for that to be really important and powerful.Karen (15:04):Alison, are there some things that treasurers are accommodating because of the circumstances of the pandemic? I'm thinking about the health of the supplier that you think is temporary or enduring? I know that a lot of large buyers are sensitive to the fact that smaller suppliers need cash more quickly because they don't have access to other sources of working capital. And that has been a great benefit of the buyer-supplier dynamic as a result of the pandemic, but do you think that's permanent, or do you think that that is just for now?Alison Livesey- EMEA (15:41):My own personal view is that that's just for now. And I think as we come out of that, you'll start to see that kind of dynamic shift a little.Karen (15:49):And is there a reason that it should? I mean, if you think about, you know, the small businesses, the smaller business, why wouldn't treasurers want to adapt or use tools that provide that optionality for suppliers, even if they have to pay to get paid faster.Alison Livesey- EMEA (16:10):And I think, I think it's our assessing what their business model kind of looks like coming out of this. And they're thinking about the different kind of ways. I think it's a journey, and I think you've got to go on that journey to get to that. I think consumers, you know, I can just think of myself, like I'm really looking for, to kind of buy off or services of companies that really are supporting small businesses. And I think that's really important. And again, I think the pandemics really heightened that. I just know my own buying behavior, you know, fruit and veggies from the local farm versus a supermarket. I mean, I've made that shift myself. And so, I think the consumers are going to be pushing for that. I think for companies, I think they've got to go along this journey of making sure that they're ready and they're set up for those kinds of smaller suppliers. But I think it is incredibly important. I think is as they go down this digitization journey, that probably makes that a little bit easier. And then there's other things that they can think about in terms of supply chain, finance programs, etc. to release a little bit of that capital.Karen (17:09):What kinds of new tools do treasurers need in order to manage in a digital first, very fast-moving world?Alison Livesey- EMEA (17:19):So, I think first off, they need to embed that knowledge into their department or into their thinking and to bring it in. And so, I think what we're seeing is that treasurers are spending much more time with technologists. So, you know, much more time understanding, whether it's the concept of what is an API and how do we think about it? How does it work and how do you plug it in? They're absolutely looking for, as we've said, that real time data, what does that dashboard look like? How can I access information and then what do I do with it? And then what we're talking to a lot of treasurers about is, you know, let us talk to you about how we can connect into your ecosystem. And I think the days of that being this long build and how we think about it are kind of gone. And I think treasures are also looking for the small, agile way of working. And what does that ecosystem look like? What does the API plugin look like? How can they pull down that data? And then what can they do themselves off their own systems to manipulate? Yes, there's still some concept of investment cycles and, and bigger projects and pieces of work for treasurers. But I think with what we know that they have a finite resource, it's all about how can we be flexible, agile and deliver to them into their ecosystem what they're looking for.Karen (18:33):What does the 2021 journey look like vis-a-vis the longer term, you know, 2022, 2023, outlook and vision for this transformation of treasury? I mean, are there specific milestones or way points on the journey that treasurers need to be making sure that they pass and pass satisfactorily to be, to be positioned for the longer term?Alison Livesey- EMEA (18:57):So, I think if you're thinking about pure digitization, it's all about understanding the entirety of your treasury process and where you have opportunities for that digitization. And then what those key pieces are and working with your banking providers to understand what's available. And I think there's what's available now versus what's that long-term strategic decision. I also think that's other things that treasurers are thinking about that are going to play into that. ESG, as an example, would be one of those items and a trend that we see in terms of how does that fit into what treasurers are thinking about as they go along that journey. So I think it's been a combination of, you know, what they're trying to do digitally, how the business model is evolving, how they need to kind of adapt to that, but also what are those other factors that they need to plug into from a corporation perspective or from within their own department that they need to trend towards. And honestly, what we're seeing is depending on segment, depending on, you know, kind of the types of clients, depending on which jurisdiction or regions that they're operating in, these mass trends tend to be very different. But I think that we're all driving towards real-time data, a simpler process as they can and nimble. I think, key words that we hear from treasurers as nimble, they want to be really agile and be taken on that transformation journey and be taken on that transformation journey in a way that works for them. So, you know, that one-to-one mapping out. We do a lot of white boarding and a lot of brainstorming. Where are you at? Where do you want to get to? What are we seeing as best practice? And then, like you say, what are those milestones? And for some, it's a quicker journey for sure. Others, it's a longer journey.Karen (20:42):I'll add one more word and that's resilient, right? Resiliency has to be one of those fundamental pillars too, because, you know, while we recognize that digital first is the way of the world for businesses, certainly, and consumers, as you point out, there is still a lot of new business models that will accompany that. There is still a lot of uncertainty about how, you know, the world will evolve and how quickly things will recover to their 2019, you know, physical manifestations. How we interact in the physical world is still very much up in the air because we just don't know. So how do treasurers build resiliency into this digital transformation?Alison Livesey- EMEA (21:26):I think there's a couple of ways to think about resiliency. First off, resiliency of staff, resiliency of employees. How are you thinking about your employees and how they've kind of got through the last year and how they get through however long this continues? So, I think there’s that first component. I think there's resiliency of a continual refinement around resiliency of processes and resiliency of controls. And they've been tested a huge amount over the last 12 months, and we've seen peaks and spikes that, you know, probably they hadn't seen previously. And I think it's thinking about how you build in that extra ability or that extra capacity into the system. When you think about, you know, some causes of reconciliations, we all know that that's complex and how do you try and minimize, how do you take out the manual nature of that and how do you try and get to as much automation and with as much speed and efficiency as you possibly can. I think that is what helps to build that resilience as you trend forward. And I think that's going to change. I think business models are shifting depending on where you sit in which industry, and I think matching that with where you are currently and how you need to evolve and making sure that those things that we talked about—you know, liquidity, that cyber security, the foot, all those key components that we know treasures think about day in, day out—matching with these additional items. I think it's thinking about all of those to make sure that, you know, again, as they emerge out and as they think beyond 2021, how they're the most resilient. But there's no doubt that digital is the way forward and thinking about that and embedding that in.Karen (23:09):Yeah, because these businesses are competing, you know, in the market with other players, you know, both core competitors and new players with these new business models that are very dynamic. So, you know, all of this is you know, it makes for a very complicated but necessary digital transformation. For sure.Alison Livesey- EMEA (23:31):The other thing that we've seen is some businesses have really shifted to a D2C model. And actually, when you think about what consumers want and how depending on which part of the globe, you're in acts incredibly different. And there's also, I think it's not just companies going on this digital journey if you like, but I think we as consumers are also going along that journey. And depending on where your market is and where you're connecting into, I think that's also a real dynamic that's playing into it and has certainly, again, come up in the agenda in terms of how companies and treasurers are thinking. Because you know a digital business and thinking about direct to consumer in Asia is going to be very different to how you think about it in the West, how you think about it in Europe, and understanding these dynamics in terms of how you've shifted and how you think about that going forward. Because again, you know, from my own experience, I'm much less likely if I can't buy it off my phone and click it. I know I'm much less likely to get out and get my credit card out, plug it in. Like that experience is really, really important. And as these business models shift, I think that's an important component as well.Karen (24:38):The flows that come from that shift are very different than otherwise. Well, Alison, thank you very much for all the great insight on 2021. Hopefully we will round this corner, this COVID corner very soon. We're all hopeful that we that we do, but there's a lot of digital transformation on the way. And I think a lot of, you know, very positive developments that have happened certainly over 2020 and into 2021 as we've already observed. So, thanks so much for your time. Alison Livesey- EMEA:Yeah. And I, my pleasure, thanks very much for having me. Karen:Thank you. 

Top Global Trends

  • The global economy will undergo a synchronized recovery, with the second half of 2021 being stronger and emerging markets leading the way.
  • Rising liquidity and low interest rates, among other factors, will accelerate mergers and acquisitions (M&A).
  • Businesses will continue to boost the resiliency of their supply chains due to rising pressures amplified by the COVID-19 global pandemic.
  • Digitization will continue creating new business models like, for example, shifting from a warehouse model to direct-to-consumer.
  • Treasury and finance departments will continue adopting digital innovations to transform their businesses.
  • The momentum behind environmental, social and governance (ESG) will accelerate as more businesses adopt sustainable practices throughout their operations.

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Alison Livesey, Wholesale Payments Global Market Management, Business Transformation and Strategic Execution, Western European Country Head
Alison is a Managing Director at J.P. Morgan and the Global Head of Market Management, the Head of Business Transformation and Strategic Execution in Europe, Middle East and Africa; and the Western European Country Head within the Wholesale Payments business in the Corporate and Investment Bank.

She has responsibility for analyzing market and industry trends, competitive intelligence and delivering thought leadership for our clients, alongside driving key regional strategic programs of work and driving business growth, market visibility and governance within Western Europe.  Alison has worked in a variety of different roles across the Payments business and Compliance in New York, Frankfurt and London. 

Alison has been featured in several industry publications and newspaper articles including a 2018 article on The Women Driving J.P. Morgan’s EMEA Push – Transaction Banking featured in The Banker Magazine. 

Alison is a member of the Board of J.P. Morgan Bank Luxembourg S.A. and the EMEA Diversity Council.  

Alison has an LLB Law degree from The University of Hull and is a qualified barrister in the UK and a member of Lincoln’s Inn. 

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of J.P. Morgan, its affiliates, or its employees. The information set forth herein has been obtained or derived from sources believed to be reliable. Neither the author nor J.P. Morgan makes any representations or warranties as to the information's accuracy or completeness. The information contained herein has been provided solely for informational purposes and does not constitute an offer, solicitation, advice or recommendation, to make any investment decisions or purchase any financial instruments, and may not be construed as such.

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