Treasury Talent Crisis – Supply versus demand, retention or technology?

Much is being made around availability of treasury professionals with desired skillsets. With the increased focus on managing financial risk and the focus on growth, there is no doubt that Treasury is becoming a financial nerve center of the organization, the foundation for all strategic decisions. ‘With great power comes great responsibility’ and whether it was Voltaire or Stan Lee that said it first, the saying is true, especially for Treasurers. There is a strong push in corporate treasury to find resources with competencies in analysis. Treasury is being tasked with more analytics than ever. This is due to the criticality in decisions now being placed on treasury departments.  Treasury is no longer a clerical department.  Treasury must be better prepared to analyze, anticipate, execute, adjust and optimize around cash management, liquidity management, payment strategy, financial risk management, compliance and hedging decisions.

With this added responsibility, hiring managers are challenged to identify and hire staff that aligns with the requirements of their organization.  Now more than ever, the need to do this is forcing managers to demand more from their staff and many find this current trend troubling.  Hiring managers are deciding to source the acquisition of supporting skill sets outside of their current organization – and this focus may be misdirected.

Why?  Because this is not solely a talent issue but rather a technology one. With its history deep rooted in clerical functions, many Treasuries have not been empowered to invest in technology that enables analytics. When it comes to becoming more analytical, it may help to really think about the team already in place. For instance, if an organization has a role called Treasury Analyst, what is really being asked of that role? Analytics? Not necessarily. Treasury heads often hire competent and capable staff only to have them mired in manual, clerical, number populating tasks for the majority of their working day.  How can the team meet analytical demands when there is no free time? The result is often even more troubling – a staff working after hours, in scramble-mode leads to low morale and eventual turnover.  I often find it disheartening reviewing public job descriptions for open positions. Many of these companies I know quite well. The description is populated with tremendous amounts of requirements for value-added and analytic work. Yet I know, given the technological infrastructure of that organization, that this will be an unrealized dream. So before posting a new job opening, here are some questions worth considering:

  1. Do I have the internal systems and technology to support my staff and their job responsibilities?
  2. If so, does that analytical talent already exist within my organization?
  3. What am I doing to retain my best talent?

Treasury departments across the globe are already staffed with bright, analytical minds with advanced degrees. This workforce is chomping at the bit to add value and engage in strategic initiatives. If your treasury team is oppressed with an overload of clerical, repetitive, mind-numbing functions, external sourcing might not be the only solution.