With the vision of creating a center of excellence for strategic treasury, many treasurers transform their organizations to better support business growth and corporate performance. They look at processes, staff and technology. A July 2014 Treasury Today article, “Treasury Talent: nature vs nurture,” featured a checklist from Andrew White, Manager, Treasury at International recruitment consultancy, Michael Page. White enumerated five key recommendations for treasurers looking to lead their teams to excellence. I thought the checklist was useful, and to complete the information treasurers need to promote and retain talent and improve their organizations, I added the technology component to each of White’s points. To consider the success factors in talent management without considering how treasurers would enable that success is like coaching an athlete without the requisite equipment. In treasury, talent and technology can and should be considered together as neither of their potential can be realized without the other.
For treasurers following White’s advice, find below a more complete picture of his recommendations:
1. Encourage progression within the treasury department
AW – To have a successful and robust treasury team, individuals need to be able to progress in their career and not be stuck doing the same tasks for a long time. There are a number of ways which group treasurers can assist with this through promoting study and obtaining qualifications, for example, or by keeping the work varied, as well as promoting from within the department.
JT – By leveraging technology, treasury professionals are able to shift their focus from clerical work to value-added, analytical work. Automating routine tasks not only removes the burden of time-consuming tasks from their agenda, but it also prevents human error, boosts efficiency, increases control and, last but not least, provides time for more strategic analysis. As a result, technology helps elevate the treasury professional´s value to the organization beyond a traditional task master.
2. Keep the responsibilities diverse
AW – Following on from point one, individuals who work in treasury can become isolated. This is especially true when there is a big treasury team. It is therefore key that individuals in the team have a broad range of responsibilities. In doing so, they should not be discouraged from specialising, but a diverse range of skills is closely interlinked with a successful treasury career.
JT – Treasury technology, by its nature, facilitates interconnectedness. Financial data is effectively shared between cash, risk, capital market, procurement and accounting groups, opening the doors to collaboration and optimization. As treasury systems are able to turn data into information, treasury is able to change the conversation itself – within the treasury team, but also between different functions, global entities and management levels. Having a better understanding of context can also lead to role sharing and role expansion.
3. Ensure treasury is promoted well within the wider business
AW – A treasury team can sometimes feel siloed from other parts of the business. It is therefore important that a group treasurer promotes the department to raise the profile of the treasury internally, and ensures that the members of the team are on the radar of the wider business and senior management. This helps to ensure the role of treasury is one that adds value to the business as a strategic business partner as opposed to a ‘back-office’ support function.
JT – Treasury technology allows treasury professionals to blossom by moving them away from number punching. As it captures all cash flows in one platform and provides straight-through processing to ERP, general ledgers, trading and confirmation matching platforms as well as banks, a contemporary treasury system can provide treasury professionals the intelligence they need to make strategic recommendations to senior management that are in support of corporate goals. This way, treasurers demonstrate leadership, and at the same time, showcase the value of their team. In the end, the more value treasury can offer the organization, the higher the probability for internal promotion, including the treasurer’s own pathway to the position of CFO.
4. Mentor the team
AW – Group treasurers have a responsibility to mentor the junior members of the team, passing on technical knowledge and sharing ideas and experiences. The best leaders will take this further and show team members how to effectively build relationships with internal and external stakeholders – another key to success in treasury.
JT – Treasury technology, when deployed effectively, creates a stronger set of uniform standards and work processes. Thus, junior members are able to more quickly learn the job and become stronger contributors, faster. Companies that use innovative technology will also look for different skills when hiring junior talent. Understanding the wider business context and building relationships with their global team members and other departments as well as banks, software providers and peers will become increasingly important qualities of finance professionals in the future.
5. Create a collaborative environment
AW – It is important that the treasury is an open forum where people feel comfortable to bounce ideas off each other. In the treasury there are always new and innovative ways of doing things so it is important that these ideas are encouraged.
JT – Technology can help treasurers get away from gathering and reviewing yesterday´s data. When financial data from global entities is available in real-time, they can start looking at today´s cash position and planning future cash flows more thoroughly. As the more advanced treasury and risk management systems have powerful analytical tools, they allow for what-if scenario analysis and shock testing. The results of these analyses can lead financial professionals to take appropriate measures to mitigate exposures and enable them to make strategic decisions with confidence.
As the role, scope and importance of treasury is changing, and as it becomes increasingly difficult to recruit talent, finance leaders can take a more complete view at how technology can enable them to improve the working quality of their team.