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Delivering on the promise of business partnership

This year’s survey highlights the increased importance of relationship building for treasury departments: 44% of respondents say this is a priority for their CFOs, ranking third on the list of top topics.

What’s more, most respondents say their departments operate as either a value-enhancing (50%) or strategic (33%) partner. We believe these results mark a firm reclassification of treasury’s role into one of business partnership.

It’s not surprising that respondents believe that the skill sets needed within their departments are changing. Strategic thinking is viewed as the most critical skill, with business partnering capabilities ranked as fourth. Technology continues to drive how and where people work, but it demands agility from practitioners as well as strong analytical and digital capabilities. As a result, upskilling plays a more central role in many workforce strategies for the future.

These findings show the value (and need) for treasury to become a predictive and proactive partner that can move at the pace of business and in a way that supports the immediate needs and longer-term vision for company operations.


Strategic thinking leads list of skills in demand for corporate treasury

Q: What skills and competencies are important for the treasurer of the future?


Strategic thinking
%
Functional knowledge of treasury
%
Technology affinity
%
Business partnering capabilities
%

Source: PwC Global Treasury Survey,
August 16, 2021: Base of 286

Implications: Something has to give to create the space needed to function more strategically

Inaccurate forecasting, rising operational complexity and liquidity-funding requirements are the top three challenges treasury departments face, according to respondents. Each of the challenges represents strategic demands on these departments that require new capabilities and the space to innovate and develop solutions.

Our results also show that most processes are centralized at the group treasury level — particularly those flagged as strategic. To alleviate the pain points and optimize treasury resource time for strategic activities, treasurers could consider leveraging managed services, outsourcing or other opportunities for streamlined processing, such as process redesign, automation and digitization.

Business partnering chart 2

Treasury is at its most strategic in external funding while forecasting is the most hands-on

Q: What treasury activities do you consider as your most manual/as your most strategic?


Most manual
Cash flow forecasting
%
Bank account mgmt.
%
Compliance
%
Cash and liquidity mgmt.
%
Bank relationship mgmt.
%
Most strategic
External funding
%
Bank relationship mgmt.
%
Cash and liquidity mgmt.
%
FX risk mgmt.
%
Cash flow forecasting
%

Source: PwC Global Treasury Survey, August 16, 2021: Base 308, showing responses for top five activities only.

Consider bank account management, an area that has long presented barriers to automation due to factors like limitations in electronic bank account management (eBAM) services, compliance requirements (e.g., anti-money laundering (AML), know your customer (KYC) and data maintenance challenges, which can increase with operational complexity. A small percentage of companies (13%) outsource this activity to shared services centers (SSCs). For larger companies in particular, managed services or outsourcing could provide a viable solution.

The same case could be made for cash flow forecasting. This activity is notoriously tricky to automate due to the high degree of data integration and coordination involved, especially for companies with complex operational footprints. While 28% of respondents recognize this as their most manual process, our findings also show that close to half of departments manually process short-, mid- and long-term forecasting instead of making use of an integrated or system-based process.

While introducing new technology can be a solution here, redesigning existing processes and leveraging available digital tools are alternatives that can help mitigate the time and resources devoted to manual legacy processes like forecasting. As one example, PwC has developed a secure, tech-enabled service, Cash Intelligence, that provides real-time cash flow visibility and agile scenario building that can help clients reach decisions faster.

Five priorities for corporate treasury

Delivering on the promise of business partnering

Expect the on-the-spot 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.

Learn more

Raising digital acumen to accelerate technology adoption

The cloud foundation 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 are changing, and the focus on cyber risk is at an all-time high.

Learn more

Supporting business leaders driving ESG

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

Learn more

Responding to demands to optimize cash

Reducing the number of bank relationships and bank accounts — including through advanced liquidity management techniques, such as in-house banking, and on behalf of structures — is a part of an overall streamlining agenda to strategically optimize cash and improve the customer experience.

Learn more

Sharpening the focus on financial risk

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

Learn more

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. 

Contact us

Eric  Cohen

Eric Cohen

Principal, Financial & Treasury Management, PwC US

Tel: +1 646 471 8476

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