People do Matter in Best Corporate Treasury Departments, AFP Survey Finds

When it comes to managing corporate cash, people matter most, according to a survey by the Association for Financial Professionals (AFP). Results of the third annual AFP Treasury Benchmarking Survey showed that human capital factors such as education and training of key finance personnel have a significant impact on the efficiency of treasury operations.

AFP, IBM and Deutsche Bank conducted their third survey of financial professionals across the AFP membership and supplemented the survey group with readers of gtnews. The 2010 survey sought to determine performance levels of participating treasury departments, analyse performance by peer group, define world-class (80th percentile) targets, and provide a basis for comparison. Organisations use this data to identify performance gaps and evaluate opportunities for improvement.

Marilyn Spearing, global head of trade finance and cash management corporates, global transaction banking, Deutsche Bank, said: “The global benchmarking survey results allow our clients to offer ‘best in class’ treasury and cash management services by comparing their treasury organisations to those of their peers. This year’s results reveal the importance of human capital.”

Prior year surveys found technological systems to be only modest differentiators in treasury department performance. This year’s survey probed human capital differentiators and found that the education levels and tenure of treasury staff can have a significant impact on efficiency. The proper balance of staff, process and technology is dependent on the size and maturity of the department and organisation.

Human capital is an area where corporate investment clearly pays off. When important treasury functions are handled by highly educated staff or by staff with professional certifications, those companies tend to need fewer treasury employees, the survey found. For example, when MBAs and other advanced degree holders perform most treasury tasks, half as many people are needed. When certification holders perform most treasury tasks, a third fewer people are needed.

Against a backdrop of changing regulations, new technology and significant financial upheaval, the survey also showed the importance of ongoing training to keep knowledge and skills up-to-date. Benchmark performing treasury staffs spend on average four to six days in training and outperform companies that spend two days or less in training.

Key Findings


The best treasury departments execute important financial tasks more quickly, with significant differences between the typical and high-performing organisations:

  • Developing a short-term cash flow forecast: typically four hours; 80th percentile two hours.
  • Concentrating cash and establishing the daily position: typically two hours; 80th percentile one hour.
  • Producing a treasury accounting entry: typically one hour; 80th percentile a half an hour.
  • Resolving bank-account discrepancies: typically three days; 80th percentile one day.


The typical organisation operates its treasury functions at a cost of 71 cents per US$1,000 of annual revenue with the 80th percentile at 28 cents. Organisations with annual revenues between US$6bn and US$10bn spend 22 cents per US$1,000 of annual revenue on treasury operations, with the 80th percentile at 10 cents. Smaller organisations with annual revenues between US$100m and US$499m spend $1.79 per $1,000 of annual revenue, with the 80th percentile at 83 cents.

Resources invested in treasury overwhelmingly cover personnel, with 76% of the total costs of treasury operations going toward personnel in the form of compensation and benefits. The typical organisation spends 45 cents per US$1,000 of annual revenue on personnel. Far fewer resources are invested in systems (9%). The typical organisation spends four cents per US$1,000 of annual revenue on systems, with the 80th percentile at $0.0119.


The typical organisation has 3.9 treasury full-time equivalents (FTEs) for every US$1bn in annual revenue, compared to 1.6 FTEs for the 80th percentile organisation. Relative to revenue, smaller companies need more FTEs than larger companies do. Survey respondents report a median personnel cost of $100,000 per treasury operations FTE, including compensation and benefits.


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