AFP Conference 2014 – trends to look for

By Greg Person October 27, 2014

It’s that time of year again – the leaves are turning, kids are back in school, and the days are shorter and cooler. No, I’m not talking about Halloween or Thanksgiving – it’s the AFP Conference. This year treasury and financial professionals around the world will converge on our nation’s capital – and based on preliminary indications, this looks to be one the largest, most broadly attended shows in the AFP’s 30+ year history. So, as I look forward to my Sunday afternoon shuttle flight from Logan, and reconnecting with friends and colleagues throughout this unique industry of ours, I thought I’d share some of the trends and topics I look forward to learning about next week in D.C.

Treasury’s growing involvement in working capital and strategic business initiatives

Having split my time this year as a corporate practitioner, and in the TMS space, the evolution of working capital products and solutions from banks and technology vendors continues to be an exciting trend and strategic opportunity for treasurers to bring innovative solutions to their organizations to improve working capital, extend DPO and improve free cash flow. These solutions are an extension to traditional cash management products and a great opportunity for treasurers to work colleagues in the controller’s group, FP&A, and others, to add real economic value to their organizations. I look forward to learning more and hearing how early adopters are realizing benefits of their supply chain finance solutions.

Liberating trapped cash in China and the internationalization of the RMB

China is of course one of the most strategic markets for many corporations, but it also the land of trapped cash, due to SAFE and regulatory restrictions. Fast forward to 2014 and the evolution of the Shanghai FTZ. This development is one of the most exciting for those of us who unashamedly enjoy the logistical opportunities of cash pooling, in-house banking and reducing local operational cash balances! Several banks have been at the forefront of interpreting the new regulatory guidelines and offering cash management solutions and consultancy to enable multinational corporations with presence in the FTZ to mobilize cash out of (or into) China.

SEPA, XML and deployment of standardized payment operations beyond Europe

2014 has seen the unprecedented deployment of XML IS02022 payment files (try dropping that line at your next cocktail party!) as European treasuries became SEPA-compliant. The evolution of format convergence such as XML, and greater access to SWIFT and local payment networks, has opened the door for treasurers and AP groups alike to consider deploying the XML standard beyond Europe. The goal of global payment factories are seemingly more attainable, and will provide tremendous opportunities for treasurers to improve operational efficiencies, lower cost and enhance controls. With several sessions scheduled related to XML during the show, I look forward to learning how other SEPA projects have added value to their organizations, and the outlook for XML, payment standards and applicability beyond Europe.

I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible. I’ll be at the Kyriba booth, #2026. As a shameless plug, please feel free to schedule a one-on-one demo of our treasury management system, and come to one of our breakout sessions. Not only will you get chance to learn more about how to improve your treasury operation, but you could also win some cool prizes.

See you there!

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