FinTech, Treasury

Technology – challenges and the new normal for Corporate Treasurers

September 26, 2017

ACTS & ATC Treasury Forum 2017

It is one of the events that many corporate treasurers are always looking forward to every year. Not that we will get the chance to catch up with familiar faces and meet new ones in the fraternity, but it is the opportunity to hear some of the best and brightest minds in our little niche industry speak about their challenges and share their honest and candid opinions on current affairs and latest issues. And this is one of the few events, where Chatham House Rules rules, and Sell side are restricted from overt selling!

During the full day event, we spoke and discuss on many topics from opining on the Future of Treasury, questioning about the rigours of KYC process from Banks, pondering aloud on the role of Fintechs on Corporates, sharing concerns on the issues that new Regulations brought about and we even had debated over the Pros and Cons of TMS vs Excel and over the Benefits and Disadvantages of E-Trading vs Phone Dealing.

It was indeed an intellectually stimulating event and was equally entertaining to watch fellow Treasurers having a friendly banter during the debate sessions! Was it just all fun and no seriousness? I’m of the opinion that Corporate Treasurers are one of the smartest and shrewdest professionals. We do think about serious stuff.

Challenges of the Modern Corporate Treasurer

In my previous interview with the good folks at Treasury Today, we spoke about how the role of the Corporate Treasurer had evolved and the challenges faced by modern Treasurers.

I shall not repeat the discussion here, but I think it is crucial that I highlight the point that Technology seems to be the top issue bothering Corporate Treasurers!

We are not computer programmers by training, most of us are only well versed in Treasury, Finance or Accounting with a couple in Arts, Law or Politics but none are the true blue expert in Computing and Technology. (I have yet to come across any!)

Fintechs, AI, Robotics, RPA, Blockchain, Automation, Systems are all common terms that were brought up and discussed during the course of our full  day event.

With all due respect, most of us know roughly what they mean and might have some working knowledge about the subject matter. However, beyond the schematics and wikipedia like understanding, not many professed the same detailed knowledge and mastery of the underlying technology involved.

Is it necessary?

Technology – the new normal for the Corporate Treasurer

Technology is just a tool… Technology will raise and improve our efficiency… Technology will create more opportunities!

These are often heard answers given by peers, when asked for their opinions and views on Technology and if they view it as a threat or an opportunity.

During one of our panel discussion, the audience were polled and some had posted very interesting questions to the panelists. It was very interesting to note that Corporate Treasurers in the hall had pretty similar concerns and apprehension about Technology. Below were 2 top questions asked.

The panelists were quite uniform in their answers, Technology is already here and we should not fear it, but rather use it to up our game. It will take a lot of effort; retraining and reshaping, and educating and getting Management/Board to buy in and support the adoption and implementation of Technology in our work.

My personal view is similar to the panelists, that Technology should be embraced, and we should harness its prowess to elevate ourselves (Corporate Treasurers) to the next levels. Technology has permeated into every facets of our work and personal lives. The inter-dependency is an undeniable fact and frankly it is an unavoidable fate for us.

However, I’m not too sure how Technology will change the social fabric of our industry. Will the type of profiles working in the Corporate Treasury change? Will we get more Corporate Treasurers who are tech savvy, schooled in Programming? Will we see more robots and systems replacing humans? Will we be speaking and talking about the most efficient algos and systems?

All I know is that change is inevitable. No matter where your organisation is based, be it Japan – people learn about Kaizen, in Europe or America – one hears about continuous learning and even in Singapore – our Minister implores us to strive towards being “cheaper, better and faster”.

It sounds cliche, but the only constant is change.

I am very certain, a couple of years down the road, when we meet again at the subsequent ACTS & ATC events, we will be talking more about Technology or related topics. Any debates on Technology will be like trying to still debate over why fly in jumbo jets from Singapore to London when you could choose to walk, drive or sail!


about author

Seng Ti is currently heading a Treasury & Finance team in a MNC and is active in the Corporate Treasury scene. He enjoys reading and discussing about current affairs, politics, life, wine and lives a normal life with his wife and 2 young kids.