Months after the financial meltdown, any vision of the future is still shrouded in a swirl of uncertainties. With even fundamental assumptions in doubt, many treasury professionals are trying to anticipate what's coming next week, next month or possibly at the next renewal of a syndicated credit. "The historical norms are being tested," observes Eric Kamback, CEO of Bank of New York Mellon Treasury Services.

Insight into the more distant future has never been more valuable, and a few treasury visionaries think they have a sense of what's coming next. "In my nearly 25 years in this industry," says Glen Solimine, president and CEO of Speranza Systems, a treasury technology provider based in Portland, Maine, "I have never lived or worked through a period with as much uncertainty and negativity as we are seeing now. The appetite for long-range projects has greatly diminished as the very immediate issues of keeping precious liquidity safe from credit and fraud risk have become more urgent."

With short-term survival on everyone's mind, is there value in trying to look further down the road and start preparing for a different and challenging future? Some savvy veterans believe there is. Instead of defaulting to a survival strategy, treasury staffs should opportunistically use the meltdown and their current importance in the corporate hierarchy to "revisit and update their systems, policies, procedures, financial models, approval escalations, counterparty exposure policies and agreements," says Brent Callinicos, treasurer of Google Inc. "We've all had a sobering view of the shortcomings of historical models. This is the time to come up with something better."

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