The modern corporate treasurer can now focus on growing the company, standing as a more strategic role of cash manager and investor for a firm. In large part, analysts say, that’s due to technological innovation: Data analytics and automation enable cash management to be far more streamlined than ever before, freeing up time for the treasurer to focus on more critical tasks.
But a new report from Strategic Treasurer identifies a host of ways other than technological innovation that the corporate treasurer’s role has evolved.
In its “2015–2016 TMS | TRMS Analyst Report,” Strategic Treasurer declares that the rate of change in the treasury management space has been “spectacular” in recent years. Naturally, innovation makes up for much of that change, but major economic and political events are also shaping the new role of the corporate treasurer, analysts said.
Banks that were notoriously slow at embracing new technologies largely bucked the trend with their widespread adoption of Software-as-a-Service tools, many of which apply to treasury management, the report explained. The migration of solutions to the cloud in the early 2000s encouraged banks’ corporate clients to do the same, as banking customers grew frustrated with having to install in-house technologies.
That technological shift has even led to a change in the way the industry talks about treasury management, the report noted. The term TWS, which stands for “treasury workstation,” would often be used to describe third-party treasury systems offered by banks and ERP system providers. But today, Strategic Treasurer argued, that term is outdated considering that treasuries technologies are now largely in the cloud. More appropriate terms today would be treasury management system (TMS) and treasury risk management system (TRMS).
Cloud technology, Big Data analytics, automation and other technological innovations have changed the way these treasury management systems work, enabling faster and more accurate corporate payments, forecasts and cash flow management capabilities.
But, Strategic Treasurer explains, technology isn’t the only agent of change.
The 2007–2008 global financial crisis, for instance, has had a continuing effect on the role of corporate treasurers. The economic event provided a harsh realization to treasurers at the time that their systems were incapable of adequately supporting their organizations’ financial needs, the report argued.
Market volatility and the collapse of major enterprises led corporate treasurers to raise their expectations. That meant heightened visibility into cash positions, greater insight into currencies and market activities across borders, risk management and mitigation and more.
“This situation could be viewed as the fire,” Strategic Treasurer declared.
One of the biggest residual effects of the economic crisis was the emergence of new regulations, which have challenged corporate treasurers to remain compliant, while ensuring their businesses also remain profitable.
These regulations range from Basel III, to overseas tax rules, to SEPA, to Same Day ACH and other payments initiatives.
All of these pressures, concluded Strategic Treasurer, encouraged corporations and their treasurers to invest in the higher-level treasury technologies they need to meet their newly raised expectations for cash management.
According to analysis by Strategic Treasurer, these trends continue to promote the investment of IT among corporates and their treasury management teams.
In 2015, more than a third of survey respondents said they plan to make significant investments in the treasury technology space, compared to 32 percent in 2014. That’s not the only area of corporate cash management slated to see new funding. Cash reporting, invoicing and payments technologies were all seen as having increased budgets in 2015 compared to the year prior.
Among the biggest shifts in the treasury management space, researchers added, is that the providers of these technologies have been able to alter their integration strategies to streamline adoption by corporate clients.
“For clients of those firms,” the report concluded, “this means that, when implementing a TMS, they should face fewer challenges than in the past as the providers have made significant [adaptations].”
Strategic Treasurer noted that its research for 2016 investment plans is under way. So far, analysts said, the data suggests that corporations will continue this pattern of growing investments in treasury, cash reporting, invoicing and payments technologies.