An inflection point for corporate treasury: Seize the strategic opportunity

The value created by a connected corporate treasury department became clear to financial leaders during the COVID-19 crisis, putting treasurers in a position to build on this goodwill and secure a more strategic role. Five trends rose to the top in our 2021 survey of treasury respondents from 340 companies across industries:

The pandemic made quiet heroes of millions of workers in 2020, with corporate treasury teams doing their part by protecting liquidity and cash flow, and managing risk throughout. Their impact has not gone unnoticed.

Sustaining treasury’s relationships with the broader business is one of the leading priorities for CFOs, according to respondents to our 2021 Global Treasury Survey (see chart at right). As we analyzed this and the other leadership priorities, alongside the broader responses from our survey, five key trends emerged for consideration.

Unpacking the implications behind each trend can help treasurers demonstrate the value of their function during a time of substantive organizational and business model change. In our view, treasurers have a significant opportunity to maintain and expand a new position of influence.

Five priorities for corporate treasury

Delivering on the promise of business partnering

Expect the relationships developed during the crisis to continue and significantly expand as companies focus more on cash flow optimization and those in business development, capital management, operations, finance, tax and other functions tackle new challenges.

Raising digital acumen to accelerate technology adoption

The cloud infrastructure required to make greater use of automation and artificial intelligence (AI)—and deliver on treasury-on-demand real-time service—is taking shape. Simultaneously, the required skills and capabilities needed for competitive digital acumen continue to grow.

Supporting business leaders driving ESG

Environment, social and governance (ESG) matters are affecting lending, borrowing, investments, supply chain finance programs and other areas that go well beyond reporting.

Responding to demands to optimizing cash

Companies are in dire need of a cash flow steward, and treasury can help by reducing the number of bank relationships using advanced liquidity management techniques, such as in-house banking and on behalf of structures—as a part of an overall streamlining agenda to strategically optimize cash.

Sharpening the focus on financial risk

Risks stemming specifically from LIBOR transitions are on the radar, as well as risks in foreign exchange (FX) management as a result of business disruptions and pressure on margins.

About the survey

PwC’s 2021 Global Treasury Survey report reflects the views of 340 treasury department respondents contacted by the PwC global network from February through May 2021. The respondents are based in over 30 countries, across 22 industries and in companies with median annual revenue of $4 billion. The report also relies on insights from our global team of treasury function experts. 

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Eric  Cohen

Eric Cohen

Partner, PwC US

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