Public sector treasury management

The Association of Corporate Treasurers (ACT) knows that treasury and finance professionals are faced with a greater range of challenges than ever before. Treasury management in the corporate world is driven from the perspective that the purpose of a firm is to increase shareholder value. However, this motivation, to increase shareholder wealth, is more than a simple profitability test. It is about the adequacy of profitability and about the risk surrounding that profitability.
    
Whilst public bodies do not have the same concept of shareholder value and do not consider profitability in the same way, they do have a public duty to ensure the most effective use of public funds. Common principles, such as those seen in the analysis of security, liquidity and yield of an investment, show that there is a lot to be gained from the corporate perspective. Throughout the public sector there is increasing recognition that treasury management is a complex, specialised area which requires expert stewardship, as testified by the strong interest shown in the new treasury management qualification for the public services.

The right skills and knowledge
Launched as a joint initiative between CIPFA and the ACT in the wake of the Icelandic banking collapse last year, the Certificate in International Treasury Management – Public Finance (CertITM-PF) aims to ensure that staff managing funds in the public services have all the relevant skills and knowledge to perform the function in a highly competent and professional manner. The qualification has had an excellent reception from the public sector, local authorities in particular, but many more organisations should be asking themselves whether they too need to take steps to ensure that they have the relevant skills and knowledge in this vital area.
    
Qualifications and training aside, there are lots of ways for treasury and finance professionals to stay up to date. There is one sure-fire way to ensure you are at the sharp edge of developments, by attending the ACT Annual Conference. Held in Manchester on 27-28 April, this conference is designed to give maximum exposure to ideas, discussion and learning using the delegate’s time as efficiently as possible. Last year’s conference theme was dealing with what we termed ‘the new normal’. This year we turn to ‘shaping the future’ – how businesses can navigate the new financial landscape and start to define what the new normal might be.
    
It is important that CPD, in any form, delivers value. What sets the ACT Annual Conference programme apart from any other conference is its attention to the detail of treasury management allied with a focus on the critical issues facing us in business and the wider economy. Whether in practical presentations, formal debate or in informal networking, treasury and finance professionals come together at the conference to really understand what their peers are doing to confront today’s challenges and share their experiences to help prepare for tomorrow’s opportunities to, literally, ‘shape the future’.  

Industry experts

Speakers such as the well-known economist and author, professor Tim Congdon CBE, CBI director general, Richard Lambert and leisure and entertainment specialist, Pierre Yves Gerbeau of Millennium Dome repute, will provide vision, depth and balance to the business debate. Market practitioners such as David Bloom, global head of FX Strategy at HSBC and Paul Ward, head of corporate coverage, EMEA, RBS will provide focused and practical treasury comment. All together, keynote addresses on funding, risk management, pensions and regulation, will give delegates the food for thought to take into the working heart of the conference.  
    
The choice of track sessions – scheduled over both days to maximise variety – have as their raison d’être the distillation of qualitative treasury management expertise from professionals with many years of hard-won experience. Each session will allow time for the audience to consider, analyse and challenge the collective wisdom and approach of the market providers, treasurers and other practitioners. That they have been hugely successful over past years is no accident: content is deliberately prepared, expertise carefully selected and debate marshalled.  

Informative sessions

Topics covered over the course of the two days ranges across the entire field of treasury, finance and risk management. It is always instructive to understand the choices made by the delegates as to which sessions they choose; does the need for ratings information mean that M & A has to be out to one side? Is the focus on cash management distinct from getting to grips with working capital controls? Is the demand to understand less familiar markets such part and parcel of the new techniques for foreign exchange risk management? Whatever the final outcome each session promises up to the minute content, corporate case studies and the opportunity for all delegates to engage the experts in getting to the meat of each topic.
    
Practical workshop sessions offer another layer to the conference schedule and allow delegates to tailor the conference further to meet their objectives for 2010. These sessions give way to informal discussions within a focused group on a specific subject or topic of practical interest ranging from cheques RIP, money market funds, trading yourself into liquidity, counterparty credit limits and treasury in crisis.
    
To further enhance the delegate’s conference experience, sessions are designed to be interactive, none more so than the very popular Question Time debate. This year the Question Time panel will be facilitated by journalist and broadcaster Mishal Hussein, and as usual there will be lively debate from a well balanced panel on topics contributed by the audience.

The exhibition
In addition, to support a conference of this stature a comprehensive exhibition offers an environment in which treasurers can learn and experience what banks, systems providers, asset managers and others are able to offer in support of meeting these challenges and opportunities.
    
The concept of the exhibition is to offer an easily accessible interactive experience not solely a ‘show and tell’ arcade. The exhibitors welcome delegates visiting their individual displays and they will be well prepared for the competition and challenge of ideas developing as the conference progresses and as delegates assimilate the ideas, suggestions and solutions presented by the speakers and track sessions and debates. Whether transmission banking, asset management, team recruitment (or personal career advancement), systems solutions or even education and training from the ACT itself, the exhibition brings together the entire treasury industry in one concentrated hub. The exhibition hall is also the refreshment area to ensure the most effective use of networking and relaxation space.
    
Taking place on day one, the Gala Dinner is as much a part of the conference programme as the sessions and exhibition and offers the opportunity to continue with networking in a relaxed atmosphere. The evening kicks off with a drinks reception, moves onto a delicious dinner and is brought to a conclusion with an after dinner speaker. This year’s speaker, John Sergeant, journalist and broadcaster, needs little introduction although it is unlikely there will be a masterclass in Latin dancing – except perhaps for the night owls at the after-dinner bar! The setting for the dinner is within The Grand Room at The Palace Hotel, a Grade 2 listed building with striking Victorian architecture and within close proximity to the conference venue.
    
The ACT team will be highly visible during the conference helping delegates manage their time effectively for both active working and networking sessions. Representatives from the executive, education, policy and technical, events, communications and publishing staff will be available throughout the conference and will welcome interaction with delegates, members, students, and all other interested parties.

For more information
For further information on the ACT Annual Conference or the CertITM-PF qualification visit www.treasurers.org

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