Shifting gears

When the previous edition of this magazine came out, many countries had just entered some form of lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. New, virtual ways of working were being adopted faster than ever before and every one of us can now name at least four online meeting tools. Industry events, training sessions and conferences have swiftly turned into webinars, which has facilitated continued knowledge and idea sharing. On the fun side, concepts such as ‘virtual coffee roulette’, virtual team drinks and even virtual pub quizzes have become common place, and many a toddler has walked into a steering committee meeting over the past few months.

Now, three months on, we can conclude that most of our clients have managed the situation quite well. Day to day treasury and risk operations were transitioned to remote working almost overnight and treasury departments acted very swiftly and effectively to secure liquidity for their organizations. While there have been learning points, most of our clients were well equipped to deal with the unfolding events. In addition, many of our clients’ treasury and risk optimization projects continued at full pace.

While most countries are gradually easing lockdown measures, it remains uncertain what the near future will bring. We may have to get used to a ’90%-economy’ for quite some time, there may be 2nd or 3rd spikes of COVID-19 infections and the economic recovery can still take various shapes.

What has become clear in recent months, however, is that treasury and risk functions are more essential than ever. The optimization of treasury and risk management is seen as mission-critical to organizations, and many of our clients indicate that their role has more importance (and board level attention) than ever before.

Secondly, we see signs that the COVID-19 crisis will trigger a trend of digital acceleration. On the one hand, COVID-19 and the socially distanced society are already impacting the business models of several industries, requiring companies to ‘adapt and reinvent’ themselves. On the other hand, more automated, secure and efficient processes and more intelligent analytics are key to building resilience, as well as to building leaner, more cost-effective organizations.

All in all, these are exciting prospects for treasury and risk management teams, and perhaps the ideal circumstances for a shift of gears. We look forward to supporting our clients along the way, whether we are in the driving seat, riding shotgun or simply recommending waypoints for the navigation system. As for the latter, I hope this edition of the Zanders magazine provides some inspiration.

I would like to end by congratulating our clients British American Tobacco, Severn Trent Water and Kongsberg Automotive on the Adam Smith Awards they were recently awarded for best Fintech solution, best Risk Management solution and best Technology project, respectively. This is a great achievement and we are proud to have partnered with our clients on these projects!

Mark van Ommen

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