The Corporate Treasurer: Central Custodian of Financial Health

What makes a good treasury candidate? Apart from his/her technical accounting knowledge, a treasurer needs to have a practical understanding of the business, and therefore qualifications in business management are relevant. Additionally, given the role of a treasurer in managing the market risk an international company inevitably faces, an understanding of economic principles is essential – especially where they apply to money markets.

An important aspect of career development for an aspiring treasury professional is international knowledge. Understanding how things work in the different countries where their company does business is essential.

There is no better way to gain a deep understanding of other markets than to work in them yourself, be it through short-term assignments or longer postings that require permanent relocation. An aspiring treasurer should be prepared to travel. A successful overseas stint on the CV shows an employee has both the temperament and flexibility to achieve results in different environments and can handle the unpredictable challenges that arise when doing business in a new country.

Keeping the Team Together

For corporate boards and their chief executives (CEOs), the challenge is often to keep their senior treasury team intact. In Asia, the finance and accounting workforce is globally mobile, which means jobs can become available in any part of the region. As companies grow and expand, they will need the flexibility to move their best people around to fill gaps and resource priority markets.

One of the reasons why it is difficult to retain good finance professionals, including treasury professionals, is the emergence of new and aggressive players in the banking, financial services and insurance sector. Where once the large European and US banks competed with local Asian banks, a growing number of financial institutions from emerging and regional markets are now active in Asian market – and they too want to hire the best talent available.

With job offers coming from all over the region, companies need to be mindful of the increasing temptation for treasury professionals to take up a position for greater pay or for better career prospects. So what can be done to ensure that talented treasury personnel stay with an organisation when they may have several competing companies trying to lure them away?

The most important thing to understand is that the decision to leave or stay with a company goes far beyond just assessing the value of remuneration packages. No one would deny that salaries and bonuses are important, but they are only one part of a much more complex equation.

Appealing to Talented Professionals

Mid-level employees need to know their career is going somewhere, and that they can get to the next level in a reasonable time. So offering an employee the chance to complete an overseas secondment is an appealing ‘carrot’ for the ambitious up-and-coming talents. They know the importance of international experience if they wish to build a career within the region.

Offering a mentor is another strategy that appeals to younger professionals. It is also a strategy that appears to have greater appeal in the Asian market than it does in Europe or North America, possibly because of the cultural value placed upon elder citizens within the traditional family structure in Asian societies. Professionals in Asia know having a mentor can help fast-track their career or, at the very least, help them avoid mistakes that will limit their advancement.

For more senior employees, maintaining the balance between family and work is a major tipping point. Any employee with a growing family has inevitably laid down roots, either through the purchase of a family home or through their choices of schools for their children. So asking them to relocate to a new market, even if it offers greater pay, may not be the most effective way to appeal to them.

For professionals who are considering pursuing the treasury role, the good news is that opportunities are increasing. The prestige of the function is also on the rise and demand for talent is coming from all over the region. With the right career development choices, the treasury role can be an intelligent means to gain the influence and responsibility most finance professionals are seeking.

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