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Sharpening the focus on financial risk with the aid of tech

Financial risk management remains a top three priority for treasurers dealing with pandemic-driven disruptions and the resulting pressure on margins. That’s underscoring the importance of efficient FX risk management and capitalizing on digital advancements. Moreover, interest rate risk remains high on the radar for treasurers, registering as the second most impactful risk to their business. Considering market expectations for rates to eventually rise, treasurers should monitor carefully now and plan ahead. 

Implications: Technology plus advanced data applications are plugging the meetings gap

Treasury leaders still appear to be having difficulty devoting enough time to meet with their business counterparts to assess economic exposure. Only 23% conduct touchpoints with a regular cadence and 37% say they have infrequent or ad hoc meetings. 

In the absence of regular meetings, digital capabilities can help bridge the gap. Organizations are leveraging system capabilities rather than bespoke solutions to measure their exposure and execute risk management activities. Eighty percent of respondents are deploying enterprise resource planning (ERP), treasury management systems (TMS) or other third-party solutions for financial risk management.

Additionally, findings show that data analytics and visualization, RPA, AI and APIs are becoming increasingly prevalent in exposure management capabilities. Several of our clients, for example, already leverage AI capabilities to generate projections for cash flow and non-functional currency risk, as well as to highlight anomalies. AI is also being used to calculate the reliability of forecasts ranging from one month to one year by running algorithms to compare past forecasts against actuals.

Approaches to the LIBOR transitions are more varied. Findings show many treasury departments are taking a more passive approach to prepare for one of the more significant interest rate events in recent memory. Of the organizations that identify themselves as value-enhancing, only 14% have active transition plans in place, while 50% are in a monitoring mode. 

Departments that identify themselves as strategic appear more proactive, with 29% reporting working groups in place. From a regional perspective, the respondents with working groups in place were more likely to be concentrated in Asia and Europe. This reflects the more immediate timetable for the end of LIBOR rates for GBP, EUR, CHF, and JPY at the end of 2021.

Treasurers have several paths to approach a successful transition. The most common: They can rely on their banks to alert them about contracts that require remediation, or they can wait for markets to develop products with a forward-looking term rate structure. However, there are several external and internal issues to consider in their planning. The process for amending contracts should be a discussion point with counterparties given the timeline involved and the potential effects on hedge accounting and taxes.

Internally, organizations should focus on preparing systems and processes to use new reference rates for accounting and forecasting. Utilizing any new reference rates for intercompany loans currently using LIBOR should be of particular interest to the treasurer and tax group. Ultimately, consistent communication with financial institutions on the mechanics for the transition and regular touchpoints with internal stakeholders will result in much less disruption. 


Strategy-oriented treasury departments more advanced in LIBOR transition preparation

Q: What best describes your treasury organization's mode of operation?

Q: How is your team preparing for the LIBOR transition?


LIBOR working group in place/transition plan in motion
Monitoring development in LIBOR / limited actions to date
No actions to date on LIBOR transition

… strategic
%
%
%
Our treasury is… value-enhancing
%
%
%
… tactical
%
%
%

Source: PwC Global Treasury Survey, August 16, 2021: Base 264

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Principal, Financial & Treasury Management, PwC US

Tel: +1 646 471 8476

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