How millennials are shaking up treasury operations

Milllennials, office, working, team

It’s no secret that treasury teams are changing quickly. While treasury ‘lifers’ are still invaluable, increasingly treasury teams are looking for technology experts and those with “soft skills” for more strategic treasury roles.

What the future of treasury will look like was up for discussion in a recent BNP Paribas Cash Management University treasury panel consisting of Pernilla Sandberg, head of cash management and settlement, Volvo Cars; Dominique Potiron, senior partner at headhunting firm Spencer Stuart; Alexander Klinke, global head of treasury management, Dennemeyer Group; and Franca Aeby, cash manager, Hoffman-La Roche.

Potiron said that, when recruiting treasury teams, she found most hiring questions now are more focused on, “soft skills and emotional intelligence levels needed to do complex work”.

“There are requests for strong leadership skills, strategy and vision. Communication skills are also becoming more and more important. Flexibility is always coming first,” she added.

Potiron argued that treasury teams are now far more visible than they had been in the past. “If they are not visible, the scope of their expertise will shrink,” she said.

Sandberg also said that those who spend their entire career in treasury are becoming less common.

“Today, people are more likely to move from treasury rather than into it. Some people stay in treasury for life, but it is a rather small industry,” said Sandberg.

As millennials start to become increasingly senior, they are also making their mark on treasury operations. They are less likely to stay in one job for as long as the generation before them and arguably have higher expectations of employers.

“Millennials are given a bad reputation,” Tracy Kantrowitz (pictured below), vice president at TreasuryXpress, tells GTNews.

“The goal of the millennial is not to change jobs every 12 months, their goal is to find a job they love.”

“I feel like the millennial generation is not negatively changing. The goal of the millennial is not to change jobs every 12 months, their goal is to find a job they love. They want things to advance,” she says.

Millennial career ambition

“Unfortunately, some companies that can’t adapt to change and they will lose that talent,” says Kantrowitz.

“Some companies are adapting, and they do have that millennial mindset. It is not just internal executives. It extends to those supplying the tools for treasurers which enable them to do their jobs.

“Sometimes the incumbent team may want to do new things, but they don’t have the tools, so suppliers can give provide tools to enable it,” she explains.

The external world around millennials is rising to meet these changes, Kantrowitz added.

“It is the natural evolution of innovation rather than employers having to meet the needs of millennials. The older generation is also changing to meet new demands too,” she says.

Growing IT expertise

Companies are increasingly hiring people to treasury teams with minimal financial backgrounds. They may be data analysts or technology specialist, according to Dominique Potiron, senior partner at headhunting firm Spencer Stuart.

“The profile of a treasurer is constantly changing. Now it is a finance manager and in the future people think it will be an IT manager,” argues Alexander Klinke, global head of treasury at Dennermeyer and millennial.

“The profile of a treasurer is constantly changing. Now it is a finance manager and in the future people think it will be an IT manager”

“The younger generation tends to be more comfortable with technology,” adds Kantrowitz.

Not only this but they tend to be “very independent and they like being able to be pointed in the right direction and want to be less reliant on IT support,” she continues.

Many millennials are also bringing their experiences with technology as consumers into the workplace too. Of course, the older generations are doing this too.

Speed of innovation

According to Kantrowitz, much of the innovation currently being seen in treasury is being driven by millennials or a millennial mindset.

“Working with millennials makes my job very exciting.  I have been in treasury for 10 years and it is really exciting for me as I have seen innovation rapidly increase in the last three years,” says Kantrowitz.

“Millennials are looking for more partnership with suppliers and vendors. This generation believes in innovation and they believe in simplifying things that are complex.  In general, the millennial generation has the mindset to always be part of a solution and look to make things better.  And this transfers to the incoming generation of treasurers, they want to contribute and help improve the solutions and processes they use.

“We create treasury technology and want feedback on features in our TMS technology. If millennials see something they want to change, they tend to communicate that, and not only do we welcome that input from our clients, we do not charge if we incorporate those changes because we believe in innovation,” she added.

Demand for flexible working

When asked whether she sees increased demand for tools to enable flexible working from millennials, Kantrowitz replies: “100% absolutely yes. Millennials want omnipresent and omnichannel 24-hour access.”

“People will not work 24/7. The flexibility of round the clock access just makes employees more productive and in turn, the companies they work for more successful.

“Life happens, whether it is family commitments, vacations or commuter issues. By being able to offer flexible working options, people can have more work-life balance and ultimately produce better results for their managers,” she argues.

Millennial treasurer Aeby agrees. “I have my mobile with me all the time. When I wake up, the first thing I will do is I will check my phone. If I don’t have any messages or emails, I’m worried that something is wrong,” she says.

“When I check my messages, I decide whether they need a response now or whether they can wait and then put it away.

“For me, no messages and no emails make me think something is wrong and that stresses me but otherwise I just decide whether it is important or not,” she adds.

Kinke agreed, saying: “It is much more stressful if you are on holiday and your family tells you not to look at your phone and you look in the evening and find 50 messages on your phone. It is more relaxing to just check your work emails like a WhatsApp from a friend.”

Sandberg, a treasurer and mother, laughs: “I can tell you don’t have a family.” Perhaps we can expect to millennial working patterns shift as the generation ages and inevitably take on more family commitments.

“Millennials are starting to change expectations, creating a faster-paced treasury”

TreasuryXpress has launched a 24 hour, 7 days a week, chatbot on its site to support clients and prospective clients which also allows for flexible working hours and locations.

“Our chatbot is a millennial innovation. Young people want access to information as soon as they realise they want it,” she says.

For example, Kantrowitz was able to help a client browsing TreasuryXpress’ website using her smartphone after pulling over on the motorway on New Year’s Eve. Access anytime, anywhere, any device allowed the client to receive service and it allowed Kantrowitz to provide service – all in real time.

“Millennials are starting to change expectations, creating a faster-paced treasury,” she says.

Rise of alternative finance

The rise of alternative finance has also been witnessed since 2008 when the traditional banking model faced a reputational crisis (among many others), when many millennials were just starting out in their careers.

Kantrowitz believes that the younger generation having more faith in their peers than in banking is partly responsible for this. They also grew up with technology and therefore trust it more than prior generations.

“Among millennials, there is a reputation that banks or the concept of ‘establishment’ are old and outdated. There is a trust issue.”

“Among millennials, there is a reputation that banks or the concept of ‘establishment’ are old and outdated. There is a trust issue,” she says.

“The other part is the speed of change. Millennials want simplification and they want to work when they want to work. Waiting for banks to provide a service isn’t great. It takes longer to turn around a big cruise ship than a small speedboat,” she continues.

There are three elements that millennials want from banking, according to Kantrowitz. These are trust, speed and peer-to-peer familiarity.

She argues that the demand for speed is driving alternative payments and financing.

With regard to peer familiarity, Kantrowitz says: “With millennials being largely responsible for the Fintech boom, alternative financial solutions are now being more widely accepted and becoming competitive to certain bank services.

“Banks won’t become obsolete, but we are just adding more elements into the mix, influencing how people do business. PSD2 is an example of millennial innovation has spread into regulation,” she concludes.


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