Career choice and development for today’s treasurer

The corporate treasurer role has been steadily evolving over the past few years, but the core functions still remain. A survey conducted by Germany’s association of corporate treasurers Verband Deutscher Treasurer (VDT) highlights the following six functions as the core areas that a treasurer will operate in on a daily basis:

• Financial oversight.
• Funding and cash management.
• Liquidity planning and control.
• Management of interest and currency risks.
• Identify finance and financial investments.
• Corporate finance.

What makes a treasury role so different from the more common bookkeeping accountant is the decision-making process in maximising and utilising the company’s financial resources. The treasury role will include a much wider scope, such as identifying potential merger and acquisition (M&A) activities and evaluating the financial impact of new business ventures, as well as proposing solutions to address any financial challenges.

Treasury functions are deemed as prestigious as roles in investment banking, such as sales and trading or risk management functions. Commercial treasury roles offer a better work-life balance and good exposure to different financial instruments; as such this helps in talent attraction and retention. In addition, job stability is much higher as large multinational corporations (MNCs) often have their treasury teams set up in the region and are unlikely to move them.

What kinds of companies need treasurers?

Companies that need treasurers are usually large local or multinational companies within the FT Global 500. These companies are likely to have global and regional treasury centres with teams of treasury professionals looking specifically at funding requirements and hedging risk, all in an effort to maximise the organisation’s working capital.

Smaller companies seldom have dedicated teams or employees functioning purely in a treasury role. Often these organisations will have a finance manager within the company to manage their treasury functions as part of their overall job scope.

What is being done to attract more people to the role?

In Asia, little is being done to attract individuals into these specific treasury roles. Instead companies will prefer to hire candidates with prior treasury experience, or those with a strong background in accounting or risk management who can transition into the role easily. To fill the gap for junior treasury roles, they will handpick graduate candidates and put them in on-the-job training under the guidance of the treasurer or his/her deputy.

How can you get a treasury role?

Job seekers can subscribe to job boards or register with recruiters to keep themselves updated on treasury roles. However, vacancies may be limited because education and working experience will be crucial factors during selection. Treasury roles can also be extended to high-flyers from the ‘Big Four’ audit companies, who have a few years of auditing experience with exposure in auditing treasury functions.

Typical profiles for treasury roles will be individuals who have an education background in accountancy, or banking and finance. Young candidates can also be recruited into treasury roles from management trainee programmes in large global corporations. These trainee programmes usually recruit on campus directly from reputable universities in both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

What are the skills required for a treasury role?

Whether a candidate is going into a senior or junior treasury role, the three characteristics that will be highly sought-after are their risk management skills, communications ability and overall business acumen.

• Risk management skills
The ability to balance risk and business needs is critical for treasury managers. Often, they need to demonstrate strong analytical and numerical skills to facilitate sound financial recommendations and decisions. They must constantly keep abreast with external market conditions which potentially have an impact on the business operating environment.

• Communication skills
Treasury managers will have to deal with both internal and external stakeholders on a regular basis. They need to liaise and consult with external parties, such as bankers, analysts, consultants and regulators on matters relating to finance and investment to make the best decisions for the company.

• Business acumen
An overall business acumen is crucial for treasurers as it allows them the ability to think ahead in identifying and creating new opportunities that could benefit the business. This sets them apart from the typical accountants.

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