The 7th CEE Treasury Conference

Austrian and Romanian treasurers have participated for the first time at the Budapest Conference of Central and East European Treasurers hosted by the Hungarian Treasury Club for the seventh time on 18-20 October 2018. 

Treasurers of the region, e.g. from the Czech Republic, Croatia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Hungary, now joined by their Romanian and Austrian colleagues have come together regularly as they have been facing the same kind of challenges at the same time all across the region. This is why the main goal of the conference, organised by the Hungarian Treasury Club and Treasury Management International, has been to share their professional experience in order to help them face the challenges on the market, in information technology and in the global economic environment.

Tamás Ónody, chairman of the Hungarian Treasury Club, a professional organisation established in 1996, which has since become a member of both EACT and IGTA, said he was very happy that their initiative became more popular with every conference, and that this year they were able to host 150 delegates from seven countries.  

On the first day of the conference TMI, together with the Budapest Institute of Banking, held an interactive training workshop on advanced financial modelling, which was led by Patrick Verspecht, from ATEB and prof. Hugues Pirotte (Solvay Business School). 

Like globalisation, digitisation also forces treasurers to find new solutions in their daily work, said Ramachandran A. S., Eastern Europe Head, Global Subsidiaries Group of Citi, one of the biggest financial corporations in the world. While he described globalisation as a genie let out of the bottle, he stressed that companies from emerging markets are now producing much higher growth rates than companies from the developed world. Digitisation, on the other hand, was like a double-edged sword, he added because it disrupts business models. The US technology sector spent two and a half times more on research & development and capital expenditures than a decade ago, so the pace of change will be very high.

One has to be prepared for some breezes to arrive to the currently rather calm waters of the regional economies – this was the essence of what Barnabás Virág, executive director for monetary policy and economic analysis at the Hungarian National Bank said when he weighed the risks that the national banks and the main actors of the regional economies would have to face. He analysed the monetary and interest rate policy of the National Bank, assessed Hungary’s position in the region in view of the inflation indicators and finally did not exclude the possibility of an interest rate rise to be carried out by the ECB. 

“We operate in an era of rapid digitization, which impacts customer expectations, corporate business models, and ultimately the infrastructure & processes of Treasury and Shared Services organizations”, said Radek Havlin, CEE Sales Head, Citi Treasury & Trade Solutions. He noted that while various industries (including banking) find themselves in different stages of digital disruption, we can observe a few major trends of how physical and financial flows are being reshaped. As digital disruption ultimately challenges established treasury processes & infrastructure, treasury teams are in a critical position to drive added value for business across key areas such as Liquidity & Funding, Risk Management, Payments & Collections, as well as Bank Management.

The old-school treasurers should always be consulted for their professional experience and expertise, no matter what big data or other technological innovation would contribute to the financial decisions of the corporation, argued Levente Lázár, senior finance manager of GE Power. Now, that risk analysts are trying to learn from the mistakes leading to the world financial crisis ten years ago, we should not rely on suggestions made by computer programmes, he said, as for instance during times of a crisis FX risks may grow unexpectedly high, and could even be unavoidable.

A similar kind of precaution was deemed necessary by Hungarian market analyst Ákos Lőrincz, who thought companies should consider a larger time-frame for both short term and mid - or long term financial periods, and he voiced his conviction that markets were at least as much moved by currents than by news.

Following global and general ethical norms was one of the main topics of the talk that Vincenzo Dimase, head of market development of Refinitiv (formerly Thomson Reuters Financial & Risk) talked about. 

In the final section of the plenary meeting of the conference great insight has been shared on the everyday practice of treasurers. The session was moderated by Robin Page, with panellist Matt McQuillan of C2FO, Daniel Chapman of HighRadius and László Tóth of Citi, talking about different aspects of digitisation and technological innovation.

The final round-table of treasurers from Austria, Czech Republic, Romania, Croatia and Hungary was also a great platform for exchanging and sharing experience on issues such as first the centralisation and then the outsourcing by large international corporations, as choosing the right treasurer from a human resources point of view. It was a common experience of the regional treasurers that due to the favourable market conditions, re-financing should continue to have a high priority for corporations.