Regional Treasury in Latin America
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Latin America: the guaranteed antidote to boredom for treasurers. Unfortunately, it often also means sleepless nights. In this call, we discussed how people manage their treasury operations across the region. Most participants had a similar approach – but we still had some lively discussions, especially around banking relations.
Most people manage the region from a regional treasury centre. Many are located in the region though some are located in the US or Europe.
Everyone finds that the centralised activities have to be supplemented by local teams, especially in the more complex and (even) more heavily regulated environments which are Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela.
Nearly all participants prefer to use their international core banks, but everyone complained that the coverage and co-ordination leaves a lot to be desired. Citi have been withdrawing from the retail business in some markets – this creates a challenge with payroll and some employee benefits the payroll bank often provides.
One participant found local banks tend to have their ears closer to the ground, while another complained they were not interested in his business.
There was a big discussion around JPMorgan, who are aggressively pursuing new business. Many participants have found this, but most remember previous pushes by major international banks, which were followed by equally rapid withdrawals from the region.
There was general dissatisfaction that Citi, who have the best regional coverage, are very reluctant to use FXAll, preferring instead to push their customers to their proprietary FX platform.
Most participants found the Spanish banks (BBVA, Santander) have a good regional presence, but often behave more like local banks than international ones.
Funding was generally decided in HQ, while the local teams are responsible for initiating payments and managing local relationships.
There has been good progress on digital banking and remote working, helped to some extent by the pandemic. The TMSs mentioned were Quantum and Kyriba. But cash pooling and intercompany loans remain difficult to achieve, given regulations and tax regimes which are usually complex. Brazil is improving with its specific electronic payment tools.
Conclusion: Latin America remains a challenging place to work, with regulations which vary and are not user friendly. But our members are achieving a consistently high level of centralisation, with improving technology. Progress has been slow – but it is real.
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