The financial crisis and the recession that followed put considerable strain on U.S. businesses and elevated the strategic role of corporate treasuries.
The sluggish economy continues to underscore the strategic nature of treasury activities. Although the economy seems to be slowly picking up steam, cash and cash-flow forecasting remain critical concerns, according to the senior finance executives who responded to Treasury & Risk’s 2012 Strategic Treasury Survey.
Once again this year, the vast majority of respondents attested to the strategic nature of their job.
Focus on cash
More than a fifth (21%) of the senior finance executives who responded to the survey say cash-flow forecasting was the area most relevant to making their job more strategic over the past year, up from 14% in 2011. Only 5% of respondents cited cash management, down from 15% last year.
Squeezing more cash out of operations was cited as their top response to the sluggish economy by 66% of senior finance executives, up from 57% in last year’s survey, while 42% say they’re adding technology to boost their visibility and controls, up from 27% last year.
When respondents were asked what areas required improved technology or more outsourcing, cash-flow forecasting led the list.
When respondents were asked where they expect to realize improvements in the coming year, liquidity management was the top contender.
Treasury’s evolving relationships
Being strategic can involve new activities and relationships for treasurers, and according to the survey respondents, that often means working more closely with the company’s CFO and controller.
Treasury departments’ relationships with their company’s business units range from occasional consulting or regular meetings to having corporate treasury professionals embedded in the business units.
Majority say treasury work is ‘stimulating’
The majority of executives seem to enjoy their work, with the number that describe their job as “stimulating,” rather than “frustrating,” increasing since last year's survey.
Fewer respondents expect upward pressure on bank fees than was the case last year.