Getting the Right People into Treasury Roles

Why is this enough of a question for it to be this week’s gtnews editorial topic? Are the wrong people in treasury roles today? Or, is treasury failing to attract? It’s likely to be a combination of the two. How many of the ‘rising stars’ in your organisation:

  • Know what a treasury department does?
  • Are being courted, or at least being educated that treasury is a fascinating department requiring many skills and abilities?

What are the different roles and responsibilities in treasury? We know what they are but how are you articulating them? What language are you using? Is it a simple: “We look after the cash and bank accounts of the organisation, making sure we know what money is where at any given time”; or is it more like “Actually, the profession is still developing – but at the moment I am working on a project to assess and mitigate risk around exchange rate volatility, although my ‘day job’ is researching and implementing investments for the business with our cash stock in the Americas region”. I know where I would rather work.

Highlighting Treasury Within the Company

What is the profile of treasury in your business? One of our clients recently embarked on an aggressive internal marketing campaign for a section of their business and was able to fill the vast majority of vacancies in this business area internally, before even having to approach the external market. Our client had made this section of the business visible, understood and now prominent. As a result, staff now know the variety of roles and opportunities within the division and know what skills and qualities they most likely need to be successful there. As importantly, those who are not probably right for the division are also now aware of this. Treasurers have responsibility for making treasury a career destination to existing employees.

The treasurer needs to be the translator, the facilitator for the people who are tentatively interested in treasury (and the filter for those who are actively interested). Included in this, is the ability to articulate career progression in treasury as well. This would normally involve roles both in and out of treasury, but this can depend on the size of the organisation. Fundamentally, people are rarely attracted to what they cannot understand. Paint the picture, minimise the risk, maximise the potential of capturing talent.

Interview Techniques

If you are interviewing someone for a role in treasury that does not yet have treasury experience, I advise you to ask contextual questions. Ask questions that enable them to explain and showcase their skills and then you put those skills into the framework of the organisation for them. Examples could be as simple as prioritisation, working cross-border/across time zones, relationship building, thinking independently (on behalf of the business) and the ability to say ‘no’ without damaging relationships. You are responsible for painting a picture to these individuals – who are already showing interest in your profession – and making sure not only is there a personality fit, but that you are painting an interesting but accurate picture of life in treasury. It is important to share the challenges as well as the opportunities, but how you articulate each will have a huge impact on the desirability of a role in treasury.

To those of you who are already in treasury and interviewing, just because you are in treasury today does not mean that you know everything that the new potential role will entail. Ask the probing questions and look at things from a different angle. You’re paid for your skill set and mind set – use it liberally, this is one of those times to showcase what you are capable of.

If you are not currently in a treasury role, how do you know if it is for you? How do you know what the important questions are? Would you feel comfortable enough to ask the ‘stupid’ questions? Anyone can research the basics but a role in treasury can vary significantly company to company. What are your strengths and how are you suggesting they be put to best use? Articulating this is going to be key for you in your career, whether you move into treasury or not.

What if your business does not have a formal treasury department but the treasury-type responsibilities fall to you. How do you manage to attract talent or buy-in on projects, when you don’t even have the (sometimes) luxury of having a specific treasury label? There are many organisations out there that cannot justify a full-time treasury role or for organisational reasons have not yet established a formal position. However, the principals of this article remain the same. What projects is treasury working on? Who knows about it? Who can help you?

Going the Extra Mile

People are (or at least the ones you will be interested in will be) commercial enough in this economic climate to know that to just do their job is no longer enough. It’s just not adequate to come in, do your job, and go home if you are interested in furthering your career. People who have stepped up into taking more responsibility, broadened their scope and shown genuine interest in furthering their career often educate themselves on other departments (while simultaneously building their internal network). These people are highly desirable in the job market.

People in treasury, in my experience (AFP 2011 is one example – my colleague presented an oversubscribed Networking Skills session), do want to be recognised for what they add to the organisation and do want to improve their skill sets. You have a huge amount of responsibility for a small amount of visibility. The time is now to take this into your hands. If people don’t know about you, what you do and what career progression could lie ahead how will you ever capture talent and turn it into a team member.

Your treasury team, like any part of a successful business, needs to become a cycle of attracting and retaining staff. An established treasury team brings efficiency, another reason to raise the profile of the business area. Make sure that people know treasury is a partner to the business and not an independent body (such as audit or compliance). Engage your chief financial officer (CFO), use your strong relationships with the company’s bank as a hook. Inspire dialogue – but get to the point. “Here are the three key things you need to know” or “This is my one recommendation for this quarter” makes the message impactful, concise and comprehensible.

Conclusion

Treasurers, and other people in the treasury team, should take responsibility for their personal and collective profiles in the business. The higher visibility that any team has in an organisation, the more desirable a destination it is likely to be whether that is for existing or potential employees. Make sure that you communicate – with substance – regularly with the rest of the business. Create positive chatter about your team and you won’t be disappointed with the results.

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