Post COVID Treasury Relationships

Report date: 
9 Jan 2021


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Now that everyone has settled into some kind of COVID routine, the purpose of the call was to check in on how participants see the future – the famous “new normal”.

Most participants agree that we will not go back to the old world, with 100% presence in a fixed location. The future will hold a mixture of remote working with on-site presence, possibly two to three days a week. A common thought was that there would be a requirement for the whole team to be present at least one day a week, to preserve the social aspect of working. It has not escaped notice that this will bring benefits in terms of reduced requirements for expensive inner city real estate, and less time spent commuting – not to mention a substantial reduction in T&E expenditure.

All participants felt that they had managed well through the crisis, and the business continuity plans had worked. We did not discuss whether the crisis has changed attitudes towards risk management, e.g., in terms of the amount of liquidity held (possibly a future call topic).

The past few months have been rich in lessons learned:

  • Remote working requires a significant effort to maintain communication, both within the team, and across silos. Most participants commented that they are making a big effort to maintain the kind of informal contact which occurs in the physical workplace – in fact, several have received comments about the contact being better than before.
  • Many participants were already used to having teams scattered across different physical locations, often in different countries. So the COVID restrictions did not present any new challenges.
  • There is a general feeling that virtual conferences are best kept to two or three hours’ duration: beyond that, it is very difficult to maintain attention. But these tools will be used to replace some of the longer physical gatherings people might otherwise have held.
  • Some participants have gone so far as to organise specific informal on-line gatherings, including virtual coffee breaks or happy hours. However, experience tended to be that people rapidly ran out of things to say.
  • There was a general feeling that the remote working tools have been effective for executing projects which had already started, or maintaining existing relationships. There was some concern about how well they would work when establishing new relationships (internal treasury, other departments or external partners), or starting new projects. However, one participant had found that necessary new projects had been successfully kicked off, with all functions making a significant effort to call in, and to make sure no-one was forgotten.
  • Finally, one participant has returned to mostly working on site, but with enhanced sanitary protocols

A couple of participants from the US reported some issues with banks still insisting on wet signatures, but this problem was generally considered to be manageable.

Bottom line: we have all learned a lot about remote working – it is definitely possible. However, while it will continue, it does require an effort to communicate, and most people still see value in getting together physically. No-one sees work ceasing to be a social activity

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