UK treasurers cite skills gap as top challenge

skills gap

A recent survey of over 100 treasury professionals in the UK has found that 36% of regard managing the skills gap within their teams to be their greatest challenge over the next 12 months.

The survey, conducted by recruitment specialist Hays Treasury also saw implementing automation processes and new technology and protecting against cybercrime as top challenge for 32% of UK treasurers.

The firm comments that the skills gap threatens the profession’s ability to maximise and secure cash growth. As one in four survey respondents say that automation of systems such as treasury management systems (TMSs) are key challenges facing the profession, treasurers must ensure they have the human resource capable of managing and fully utilising these new technologies whilst also ensuring the risk of data transactions has been assessed to help protect against cybercrime.

“Treasurers are taking steps to make their function more efficient and effective by improving technology and implementing treasury management systems and trading platforms,” said Martha Pierce, senior consultant at Hays Treasury. “Heads of treasury must ensure that they have the skills in their teams to best safeguard their capital.

“With the majority of today’s senior treasurers starting their careers outside of the profession, treasury must improve its ability to attract a pipeline of talent if it is to meet the current and future demands of finance functions, managing interest rate risk, foreign exchange (FX) volatility, and ensuring that cash is being used and invested where possible on money market or other longer term investment opportunities.

The DNA of a Head of Treasury report found that today’s successful treasurers will manage financial risk and act as a business partner to operations and a strategic ally to the financial director or chief financial officers (CFO). The best treasurers can impact the bottom line, reduce the need for and risk of borrowing, embrace flexibility and changes to financial regulation and provide solutions to maximise the security and profitability of a company’s assets.

“If finance teams are to ensure their reserves are protected and managed wisely to maximise their growth, they need access to the right skills in treasury,” adds Pierce. “For those that want to get to the top in treasury, relevant experience coupled with professional qualifications can ensure that treasurers of the future develop the right skills to succeed.

“As the role of a treasurer cements its place at the board table, those who can manage operations, risk, business relationships, and regulation changes will make it to the top. For those who are already at the helm, heads of treasury must ensure there is a sustained pipeline of young professionals entering the profession by promoting the varied and promising career paths a career in treasury entails and therefore protect company cash and make the most of its growth potential.”

Among the survey’s other findings:

• Two in three survey respondents had 10 years’ experience or less before becoming a head of treasury, while three in four hold an accounting or treasury qualification.
• Looking ahead to the future and the challenges facing the profession, treasurers believe that managing liquidity (40%), responding to increasing regulations (40%) and risk management (37%) are key.
• Nearly three in four (74%) survey respondents state that, compared to 10 years ago, treasury is a now a strategic function securing liquidity and understanding the true risk profile of the corporation.
• Forty-five percent of respondents believe that being a strong communicator has helped them to succeed in their career, 40% said having a strong commercial understanding and 39% said their ability to build strong relationships has aided their progress.
• Encouragingly, 87% of treasurers said they would choose treasury again if they were starting their career today.

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