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AFP 2017 Preview: Treasury Tech Takes Center Stage

  • By Andrew Deichler
  • Published: 3/21/2017

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Last month, the AFP Conference Planning Task Force met in Reston, Va. to sort through a multitude of session submissions and find the ones that would be the best fit for AFP 2017. As always, treasury management is one of AFP’s highest priorities, and the task force members who helped determine the track were sure to select sessions that reflect the challenges that the treasury function is currently facing.

According to Stephen Chiu, CTP, director, global treasury for World Vision International and a member of the task force, the issues he regularly deals with include bank relationship management, foreign exchange risk management, cash operations, regulatory compliance, and treasury technology/fintech. “As part of this year’s AFP Conference Planning Task Force, I was amazed by the high quality of submissions for limited speaking spots at the conference,” he said. “All of the treasury topics that I encounter daily are also program sessions being covered at this year’s conference.”

Of the topics that Chiu mentioned, it likely comes as no surprise that technology and fintech were common themes in more than 30 of the submissions. “This number and the quality of technology submissions was significantly higher than last year,” he said. “Competition for fintech sessions was fierce, but not entirely surprising based on the growing market noise around this trending topic.”

Chiu added that one key area of fintech that his fellow task force members are especially interested in is blockchain—particularly how banks are integrating it into their operations and involvement with clients. This is in line with what AFP has been hearing over the past year and a half—that while blockchain is still in early stages, it will become an incredibly important tool for treasury and finance in the near future.

Beyond fintech

Still, for those treasury professionals who are interested in more traditional aspects of treasury, the treasury management track will have plenty for them as well. “The value of AFP conference sessions is there is something for everyone,” Chiu said. “For those starting their treasury careers or just wanting to brush up on topics like cash flow forecasting or account analysis, we have sessions to meet their needs. For the 30-year treasury veteran who has been to countless AFP conferences, we have sessions on key topics that are constantly changing due to market dynamics, such as liquidity investing or changing treasury technology innovations. I am able to continually apply what I’ve learned in conference sessions to my job.”

Given that Chiu works for a non-governmental organization (NGO), he has a slightly different perspective of treasury than many corporate practitioners. Nevertheless, World Vision’s global treasury practice views the AFP conference as a valuable source of treasury trends, information, and networks, because many issues that the sessions address are ubiquitous across treasury as a whole. “The complexity of managing multiple global bank relationships, particularly in frontier markets, is a critical issue affecting many corporations, as evidenced by our Pinnacle Award last year,” he said.

Furthermore, cash flow forecasting in global development organizations incorporates elements of both decentralized and centralized treasury functions across multiple legal entities, Chui added. “This requires sophisticated analysis and integrated information flows,” he said. “Addressing regulatory compliance requirements and know your customer (KYC) processes means treasury time and attention, as these demands are constantly in flux. I am looking forward to learning more about each of these topics and many more at the upcoming conference in San Diego.”

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