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.
Q: What skills and competencies are important for the treasurer of the future?
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.
Q: What treasury activities do you consider as your most manual/as your most strategic?
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.
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.