AFP Conference Reflects Cautious Business Optimism

by Patricia McGinnis 0

The 2010 annual conference and exhibit event for corporatetreasury professionals reflected a tone of cautious optimism amongboth attendees and exhibitors.The Association for FinancialProfessionals (AFP) reported an approximately one third increase inattendance versus 2009, when large numbers of both professionalsand financial industry exhibitors decided to stay at home.

Conversations on the exhibit floor suggest at least threetakeaways:

First, corporate treasury operations continue to focus onimproving operational efficiency, and increasing numbers now appearto have at least some budget to invest towards that goal.That said,highcost changes are probably still unlikely in most corporations,but incremental improvements likely to save time or money didgarner attention.

Second, mobile corporate payment applications have begun to maketheir mark in the corporate treasury world.Those banks that do notyet offer them were beginning to sound defensive or apologetic, butin general, corporate treasury personnel reacted positively to theidea that they can solve problems or attend to payment imperativeswhile away from the office.Some talked about being able to attendto children’s after school events; others identified value inbusiness continuity contexts.Many of those folks had smartphones inhand while asking questions about such capabilities.

Third, more corporate treasury personnel are investigating theadvantages of using cards in multiple contexts.Both purchasingcards and travel cards continue to represent growth opportunitiesfor banks, because they demonstrably deliver substantial savings tocorporations.Reloadable payroll cards, once imagined primarily asthe solution for delivering wages to the unbanked, are also gainingfans in mid-sized and larger firms as a replacement for automatedpayroll. Overall, corporate banking is showing signs of life, andbanks are rolling out new capabilities via new channels tofacilitate the management of payables and receivables and theoptimization of corporateliquidity.