On the 20th of June 2017, the Zanders Belgium Annual Treasury and Risk Seminar was held in Antwerp where more than 40 invited experts gathered under a beautiful blue sky and an exotic temperature to discuss the latest developments and innovations in Corporate Treasury.
The seminar was opened by Laurens Tijdhof, Partner at Zanders, who addressed the expanding role of Treasury. Laurens discussed how we are currently living in an age of disruption where treasury departments are optimizing and reinventing efficient processes with ‘smart’ technology. One of the key developments is that treasury departments are developing to a next maturity level with a focus on business integration and treasury value added.
Joris Janssen, EMEA Treasury Operations Manager at Mars, took the floor to discuss the long walk of Mars towards treasury maturity. Starting with the implementation of a global in-house bank back in 2005, Mars has been following a clear vision as to how they can bring their treasury to the next level. Today, treasury at Mars is perceived as an internal advisor for other departments and a trusted expert for presentations to the Board with a solid Governance & Control framework in place.
Thomas Frijns, Procurement Risk Manager at Philips, described participants the interconnectivity between treasury and other departments for managing for instance commodity price risk. As commodity prices can strongly fluctuate, which could lead to a negative P&L impact, a well-prepared approach focused on risk mitigation to respond to uncertain commodity prices is required. Philips developed a tool providing visibility on its commodity exposure and transparency on the potential impact, allowing them to react appropriately and giving a competitive edge.
After a short coffee break, Dieter Stynen, Head of Global Transaction Banking Belgium at Deutsche Bank, explained on how virtual accounts can be used to optimise payments, collections and cash management. Many virtual account numbers can be linked to one real bank account and transactions containing these virtual account numbers will be booked on the associated real account. This can help to reduce the number of real bank accounts and increase the visibility and reporting of cash within the organization.
Jean-Marc Bonnefous, Chief Commercial Officer at Clearmatics, continued the seminar explaining about the risks and applications for finance of distributed ledger technology and its impact on treasury. Jean-Marc pointed participants as to how distributed ledger technology can assist with the creation of smart financial contracts with embedded logic which can value and execute themselves. Distributed ledger technology is currently still in a development phase, it is picking up traction and is getting a lot of attention from major market participants and regulators.
The US presidential election and the geo-political impact on treasury was detailed by Marcel Claes, Chief Executive at American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham). During the closing speech, he emphasized on the importance of trade. The historical tight relationships between the US and Europe might be at risk as a result of the new governmental directions. More specifically, the role of Belgium in the competitive environment was addressed. In order to attract more business and treasury headquarters we need to keep working on the attractiveness of Belgium for corporates.
On top of all the above, Kasteel Den Brandt in Antwerp offered the magnificent surroundings for the more informal exchange of do’s and don’ts between the experts in treasury and risk of yet another successful Zanders Belgium seminar.
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