Joris Chevaux, CTP, works for a global cosmetic retailer, a company that is part of a French Group listed on the Euronext Paris Stock Exchange. He is the Regional Treasury Manager for Southeast Asia and Oceania which covers nine markets (a combination of direct markets, franchise markets and cross-border e-commerce): Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, India, South Korea and Philippines.
As part of his scope, he ensures day-to-day operations in the areas of funding, cash management, cash reconciliation and banking relationships. But beyond the reporting and finance functions, he also sees his role as being a strong business partner that drives decision-making and has an impact on operations.
“That's why I took more responsibilities when it comes to payments and working capital management,” Joris said. He is finding answers to questions like, how do we optimize our supply chain to have a leaner way of securing products from brand partners, and how do we reduce the cash consumption from it?
A lean regional treasury within a global organization
Since the company belongs to a multinational corporation headquartered in Paris, the company combines centralized and regional approaches to managing treasury. In the Southeast Asia and Oceania region, despite not expanding much in terms of people, the company’s treasury department has taken on more responsibilities progressively, through process optimization, centralization supported by digitalization, and automation.
The department manages up to ten bank relationships — some are core and others are for risk management purposes. And it uses a mix of treasury management systems that reflects the hybrid centralized and regional approach.
Doing more with less through automation
Because Joris has a very lean team, a major challenge he faces is figuring out how to absorb more work to support the countries he manages and to deliver strong partnership values to the overall organization without overloading himself. “Finding the right balance between daily operations and strategic vision is really key – automation can help,” he said. “But when I say automation, I’m not just saying, we will implement a treasury management system; we will automate the report. It’s asking, how can we rely on technologies that have strong impact?”
His goal is to find solutions that do more with the data he already has. For example, with cash forecasting (and reforecasting), the process of extracting and downloading data, then interpreting it to make manual adjustments is very time-consuming. In addition, in the retail industry, cash forecasting is unpredictable, so needless to say, cash forecasts need to be updated almost daily. As a company working in the retail environment where demand is uncertain, the accuracy of cash forecasting impacts the optimization of the company’s working capital and relationship with its overall supply chain.
“[If we can get] data from reforecasting in a more efficient way, then we can reallocate that time to building manual forecasting and optimizing our working capital management,” Joris said. Most importantly, for Joris, with this information from reforecasting, he can add operational value: “From this interpretation, we can work on concrete actions, such as optimizing inventory turnover ratios and cash conversion cycles, with our brand partners and our internal supply chain management team.”
A broader vision of treasury
What does Joris enjoy about being on the AFP Asia-Pacific (APAC) Treasury Advisory Council (TAC)? “It’s a great way to network with other treasury peers and great treasury minds all over Asia,” he said. One thing he has learned from the discussions is that the meaning of treasury varies from company to company: “Getting this learning and the different points of view from different companies is always a great way to enhance your own vision of treasury.”
Another benefit has been the chance to grow his technical skills, especially in areas he is less familiar with. “You can rely on the network to help you when you have some challenges,” he said.
In Joris’ experience, he has found that the pool of well-rounded treasury professionals is small in some parts of Asia, and he hopes to mentor burgeoning treasury talents and help them develop a wide range of competencies and skills.
Add this to your reading list
As part of our profiles on the APAC TAC, we’re asking each person for a book recommendation. Joris’ pick was Dante Alighieri's “The Divine Comedy,” an Italian classic poetry masterpiece also available in English translation. The poem takes readers on a journey through Heaven, via Hell and Purgatory. Joris described the book as a “must-read visionary human-drama poem” and said it has left him curious about spirituality.
Interested in more AFP articles and profiles tailored to treasury in Asia-Pacific? Read more here.