"So here we are... again" intones Kele Okereke, the lead singer of Bloc Party, as one of the band's biggest hits plays over the PA system in the main plenary room at Liverpool's BT Convention Centre.

Treasurers, bankers, vendors and more are here for the Association of Corporate Treasurers (ACT) Annual Conference 2013. This is the third year in a row that the ACT's annual gathering has been in Liverpool, so perhaps Kele could be forgiven for not sounding overly excited about the prospect. He needn't have worried though, as Day 1 has already provided plenty of interest for those involved in the world of treasury.

One of these interesting elements is found in the delegate bag this year. Seasoned conference goers are used to tipping up their delegate bag when they get back to the hotel room and watching a succession of pens, mints and adverts hit the duvet. While that still may be partly true here, a couple of the publications included make for essential reading. The ACT's Event Guide for the conference is always detailed and very informative, and this year I think that the redesigned speaker profiles - offering at-a-glance keys to the size of treasury team, company turnover and biggest treasury priority - work well and are very pleasing to the eye.

Even better is the 'Ones To Watch' publication, a profile of 16 treasury professionals that are described as 21st Century Talent, and it is hard to disagree. Each profile looks at the business hero of the treasury professional, how they have arrived at their current position, and views on what makes them stand out from their colleagues and peers. While every treasury publication and conference has been making hay out of the 'rising role of the treasurer' over the past few years, it makes a refreshing change to actually get to know some of the individuals that are at the vanguard of this development. Treasury can sometimes experience a brain drain to other areas in the organisation, and so anything that promotes roles in treasury should be welcomed. Working in treasury shouldn't just be a box to tick before continuing on with the rest of your career.

Back to the conference itself, and there were new and interesting discussion points on offer from the start. Jono Slade, global head of corporate finance at Rio Tinto, has today become chairman of the ACT and kicked proceedings off with a rousing welcome. The 'introduce yourself to your neighbours' part of his presentation was entered into with gusto by all the delegates in the main hall, which was great to see.

Following Slade, the opening keynote address was given by Ignazio Angeloni, who is the director general for financial stability at the European Central Bank (ECB). I'm not sure too many people would fancy that job title given the current climate, but Angeloni sounded undimmed by the undoubted challenges he faces. He began by stating that he thought the invitation for him to speak at the ACT Annual Conference was both unusual and unexpected - unusual because he is neither British or a retired politician, and unexpected given the current political questions swirling around the UK's place in the European Union.

The points from Angeloni's address that I found most interesting were around the UK's place in the EU. Looking at some data on merchandise trade flows, he showed that, as perhaps may be expected, while China's trade with the EU was up, UK (and US) trade with the continent were down. However, data also shows that the UK, and Europe, is trading much more with China and the rest of the world than ever before. The lower numbers in the first slide seem to be as a result of this, with Angeloni arguing that there is no evidence in the trade flow statistics that suggest the UK is "drifting away" from Europe.

In his closing remarks, Angeloni again reiterated his belief that UK integration with the continent has not been seriously affected by the current economic strife, and that the data shows that the English Channel is not getting wider, apart from perhaps politically. Angeloni stated that the gains from the UK's EU membership, for both parties, are large and that it should be preserved. Whether that message has any effect on some UK politicians, with a general election just two years away, remains to be seen.

Overall the ACT Annual Conference 2013 has kicked off in fine style. Roll on the next two days!