Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Corporate Treasuries Not Prepared for Unexpected Market Events

Posted by Mark Brousseau

At the AFP Conference in San Francisco today, Wall Street Systems (Wallstreet) released the survey findings of 46 of the leading US-headquartered Fortune 500 multinational corporate treasuries.

The top concerns were Counterparty Risk, 87% of respondents, and Cash Flow Forecasting with 28%. Startlingly, nearly 90% of corporate treasuries reported they still use manual processes such as spreadsheets to manage counterparty risk and cash flow forecasting. This means they are without the real-time view and information needed in uncertain environments. In the wake of the recent market collapse, manual processes are no longer acceptable for corporate treasury functions, according to survey respondents.

To further exacerbate the problem, Treasurers have traditionally relied on the credit rating agencies to provide their only measure of credit risk. Without question they can no longer rely on ratings as the only determinate of risk, and as a consequence they have cut their more risky exposures and moved to specific counterparties the government would view as ‘too big to fail’.

Treasurers are now in need of other tools to help them view and manage their counterparty exposure and ensure the group’s liquidity across the organisation, such as an integrated treasury management system – providing a real time view of exposure and liquidity on demand.

Mark Lewis, Director, Corporate Treasury, Wall Street Systems said: "Today the cost of making an investment in real time treasury technology, does not compare with the size of a possible loss caused by a failed counterparty. The opportunity to unwind the exposure prior to the failure could save the company millions, and is an essential point for proving the business case to the board."

The survey reveals that the once-accepted practice of spreadsheet management and other manual methods is no longer sufficient in today’s marketplace. Where treasury technology was once the provenance of mere cost savings, it is now required to provide an early warning system in the event of a market event and address shareholder demand and protect against large-scale failure.

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