FX RESET: RISK REDUCTION TRADE-OFFS & HEDGING COSTS IN THE CRISIS MARKET
Our Principal, Chad Wekelo, teamed up with Kyriba to discuss how Treasury teams are using advanced analytics and reassessing their hedging program to optimize market conditions. Click the image above to view the Slideshare, or here to download the presentation.
Even when faced with uncertainty, aspects of life and work can be designed to support balance and facilitate open communication. Best and Brightest Programs of the National Association for Business Resources presents "Maintaining Balance and Open Communication (During Uncertain Times)." Our COO, Kerry Wekelo, shares the six tried-and-true principles we use to create and maintain a thriving culture at Actualize.
This webinar can be viewed here.
Kunle Aladewolu, Manager, Capital Markets & Treasury at Actualize Consulting
Skilled and certified treasury professionals who have attained their qualifications through a recognised body are increasingly in demand for their particular knowledge set and ability to navigate through the critical financial, liquidity and risk management decisions facing organisations regularly.
Part and parcel of a certified treasury qualification, aside from the rigorous examination of the student’s industry knowledge, are a raft of benefits which further enhance the proposition for attaining a certification, including the following:
See the full post below.
Darin Hollingsworth, the host of Working Gratitude Podcast - Odonata Coaching & Consulting and Kerry Wekelo, discuss using gratitude as a shifter in all situations and how gratitude can defuse workplace conflict. Listen in on the links below and stay tuned for Kerry’s soon to be released book, Gratitude Infusion detailing how we use gratitude at Actualize to create a thriving culture.
Business Continuity Plan For Treasury - Best in Class
With extended periods of remote working, many companies are happy they have a business continuity plan (BCP) in place. But a full BCP needs to cover much more than planning for remote working. Here is a suggested approach to build a full BCP for Treasury by Paul Baram, Director.
As we adjust to extended periods of remote working, clients are realizing how effort previously expended in creating a business continuity plan (BCP) is paying back in spades. Good for them. And it’s true having a plan in place to accommodate the loss of access to the main office is one of the critical considerations in formulating an effective BCP plan. A full BCP plan needs to cover much more than planning for remote working. Starting to build out a BCP can be daunting, so we present an approach to defining what a BCP plan should cover for a specific company and how to evaluate and prioritise mitigations and recovery from those events, should they occur.
A good starting point is to document the process flow of all the mission-critical activities of the Treasury function along with the frequency of action. If a company makes its payment run on a Thursday only, then an outage on a Tuesday is a much smaller issue than a Thursday.
Secondly, gathering together a list of all relevant artefacts is another initial point of collation. Here we define an artefact both as documents, document libraries, any current BCP plans, communication plans, and contacts as well as physical items such as the relevant systems being used to include banking portals, general ledgers, and the TMS (Treasury Management System).
One tip in devising a scenario plan is to be clear about the coverage that a BCP is aimed for. I recall a BCP planning session early in my career whilst living in Japan. We had a long debate over whether planning for the “big earthquake hitting Tokyo” was a sensible scenario or not. The company had a backup location several miles outside of Tokyo, but if an earthquake occurred, would it not be better to have that location 100 miles away. I do not recall where that ended…. Avoid getting too specific in the nature of the scenario but do include the current status. It is not necessary to list out multiple scenarios of how the main office became unavailable; it’s enough to state one scenario where the office is unavailable.
The recommendation is to utilise a grid approach to gather the scenarios. Firstly, the scenarios themselves generally fit into for 4 main categories, as shown below, along with a few samples for illustration.
Figure 1: Scenario List
BCP Action Plan:
Once the assessment and scenarios have been defined you can start to formulate a BCP action plan. The scenarios should be reviewed and signed off with stakeholders. At this point, you can formulate an actual BCP action plan. One can think of the cost of implementing a BCP plan akin to an insurance premium. An interesting analogy since business continuity insurance does exist as an offering. However, Global Pandemics are a small print item that are typically not covered.
Continuing the insurance analogy, we are generally comfortable understanding that the higher the level of coverage, the more the cost. In BCP terms, one way to think about this is to understand the relationship between Cost of Prevention versus Cost of Recovery. Research has shown that this relationship is not typically linear at the short end of the timeline.
Figure 2: Cost of Prevention vs Recovery time
Thinking about Cost of Recovery itself, one can appreciate that the ability to recover critical systems within minutes requires a significant investment that could be mitigated through other means. For example, making payments through the banking portal as the mitigation to the main Treasury Management System for payment generation is unavailable. To that end, we recommend action plans be articulated for 3 separate time buckets.
· Short term (0-72 hours) - Think of this as the short-term emergency plan.
· Medium term (3-30 days) - With items such as payment cycles, management reporting typically falling into monthly cycles and approach to outage over this length requires a different mindset and approach.
· Long term (30+ days) - And finally then, the long-term plan requires an adjustment to a new normal.
Figure 3. Sample Action Plan
For each scenario agreed, an action plan is drawn up. The action plan should define a specific response and address implications to both personnel and infrastructure. The individual action plans can then be formulated into a project plan for action (including costings) and presented for funding and implementation. Again, understanding the costs for each scenario individually and collectively is key for stakeholders. There are typically some low cost, quick to implement activities that can be actioned immediately.
Be mindful of security. A disaster scenario should not be an excuse to drop security policies and principles. If multi-factor authentication is being used to access a TMS, it should still be available in said scenario.
Test, Refine and Retest:
Using today’s working environment as a potential wake up call, you ideally don’t want to wait for an actual disaster to strike before knowing the BCPs are appropriate. The plans must be tested on a regular basis, with results documented and output reviewed for opportunities to enhance the plan. Clearly, it’s no fun for the individuals to schedule an outage at 4:30 pm on the Friday of Month End, but perhaps at a minimum that scenario could be enacted around a conference table. If a remote site is available, consider scheduling a day to have the teamwork at the location. This would provide tangible feedback on working space, quality of networks, accessibility to required documents, data, etc. One outcome of good testing will be the identification of the weakest link of the plan which can then be mitigated and retested.
Additionally, whenever a significant change hits an organisation, for instance a change of TMS vendor, business acquisition, or key personnel changes occur, this should trigger a review and update to the plan as appropriate.
It’s Good to Talk:
Finally, we must recognise that communication in the event of BCP is paramount. Having a centralized contact list along with a chain of communication structure is a must. It’s tempting to think that with work email and our smartphones this information exists in some form already. However, thinking about where this information is held in the event of the scenarios above is vital to a speedy recovery. Privacy concerns must be considered, but if the loss of work email is a scenario to cover, then personal email addresses should be included. It’s also important to produce an external contact list for those groups treasury regularly interacts with, relationship bankers, TMS systems contacts, etc.
Preparing for the future starts today with a strong BCP plan fit for purpose for your individual company’s criteria. Please contact us for additional planning tips, review of templates and plans, and how to get started.
If you would like to download this article in PDF format and share it with your team, please visit https://www.actualizeconsulting.com/uploads/1/6/8/0/16806736/2020-business-continuity-actualize.pdf
Kerry Wekelo, COO, Actualize Consulting
As we spend time in isolation, we may feel a deeper need for connection. Although we may not physically be near our loved ones, they are only a phone call, Zoom, or Skype away. I challenge you to use this time to draw closer to those you don’t know as well. It can just be through conversation or perhaps you’d like to make it a project. For example, before my grandmother passed away, I interviewed her and created a book of her life. This is now one of my most treasured possessions and I am encouraging my kids to do the same for their grandparents.
If you don’t feel comfortable reaching out to those you don’t know as well, you can even start with your immediate family. At dinner with my kids, we are using my Zendoway cubes along with conversation starter cards to engage more. The silver lining throughout this period of isolation is the extra time to focus on what matters.
Who can you get to know better? Share ideas on how to connect below.
Paul Baram, Director, Actualize Consulting
Today marks 2 years since I joined Actualize Consulting. Coincidentally, we just hired our latest full-time team-mate (Kunle Aladewolu). As we were going through our onboarding process, I was struck again by how strong the culture we’ve built across our organisation is. Aside, in the spirit of show, don’t tell, our COO Kerry Wekelo literally wrote the book on it titled Culture Infusion. But trying to figure out if a new recruit is right for our culture, whilst important, is only part of what makes up a good consultant and thus the right person for us. I have noticed that a successful consultant has certain ingredients.
Aside: I was recently watching a cooking program on TV and followed a recipe for a really easy chocolate cake. Equal parts (lets go with 4oz or 100g) of hazelnuts, dark chocolate, soft unsalted butter, flour, semi-skimmed milk, and sugar. Get a food processor going and blitz the hazelnuts till fine. Then, in order, add the chocolate, butter, flour (+ a pinch of salt), milk and finally sugar. It should be a light fluffy batter. Whack that into a non-stick baking pan that sizes such that the batter is about 2-3cm deep. Then into an oven at 180°C/350°F and bake for 25 minutes. It should come out something like a cake/brownie. It’s really good….
Back to the recipe for a consultant. For my math brain, it comes out as competency squared + curiosity + culture. Functional competency for the role itself is paramount. Fortunately, that’s easy to test for with some well-constructed questions. But how well those questions are answered and how much further into the subject matter the conversation goes is what gives insight into how someone thinks about what we do. I like to imagine a spreadsheet with columns representing all the functional areas and rows indicating depth of knowledge. If I picture their knowledge as a T (broad knowledge across most areas and real depth in at least a few), then I think we’re onto something.
Consulting competency comes next. Can the person communicate articulately, both in written and verbal form? Time management skills and multi-tasking become ever more important with the work we do. Curiosity, for me at least, is the secret sauce. My own view is that we never stop learning and every project we participate in provides a learning opportunity. I see enormous curiosity to learn and a desire to develop at the heart of everyone in my team. And last but not least, trying to understand what makes people tick outside of work, how they treat themselves and others is really, really important to us. Which neatly brings me back to the culture at Actualize. In these times, I’m grateful for the positive energy, gratitude and support that we are all providing each other as we continue to deliver for our clients and take care of ourselves.
So, an insight into what we look for and chocolate cake. What more do you need….?
Latest release news and tips for your Kyriba implementation.