Treasury has always been a niche area, but it is no longer limited to a back-office role dealing with cash management. Over the past decade, in the wake of the financial collapse of 2008, it has become a far more strategic role in any organisation, covering all aspects of financial operations.
Treasurers are increasingly seen as owning financial risk management and thus dictating corporate strategy. Their place at the top table means that C-suite positions are increasingly open to them, but also that their skill sets need to develop accordingly. Understanding the risks is no longer enough; the ability to communicate with external stakeholders is now essential.
The overall business plan of an institution should be on the radar for any successful treasurer, and this is where the skills learnt during their career will be crucial. As such, whilst climbing the career, ladder treasurers need to create a personal profile and shape a career projection.
In a competitive market, you will find yourself up against individuals with similar qualifications. Although such certification will stand you in good stead in seeking to progress in your career, recruiters and employers will look at personal competencies. Do you share the company’s values and ethics? Are you a good organisational fit? The bottom line is, are you likely to drive the company forward?
Personal skills are those which will stand out when competing against candidates with similar qualifications. These skills will only be assimilated over time, and so career development should be considered a marathon not a sprint.
One of these attributes is the ability to affect corporate strategy by influencing meetings. By explaining your strategies and their potential outcomes as clearly as possible, you will make yourself stand out. In challenging yourself in a professional environment you will also avoid the pitfall of repetitive behaviour which will hamper your progress. For every task, look at a different way of doing it. Just because one process works, never assume that there isn’t a better and more profitable alternative.
This brings us to an important staging post in any treasurer’s career. An ambitious individual will be in charge of their own career development. Your current employer may have a planning strategy in place for promotion. If you feel your own development is being blocked it may be time to look at a move.
If you are looking for a change, never move solely for a better salary. The team you are joining may not suit your skills or your career aspirations. Instead, choose an opportunity where you believe you can develop, ideally with individuals and a business you have followed and admired.
This will ensure that not only can you progress your own career, but you will be offering your new employer skills and enthusiasm which will drive the business forward. Once your career is on an upward trajectory, you will find yourself not only in a position of influence but managing a larger team. Presenting yourself as someone with gravitas, but who understands the company’s aspirations and challenges from a treasury perspective, will help to explain how you intend to add value after your appointment.
Learning how to have an opinion, even if it may be wrong, and combining confidence with humility will similarly help to progress your career. These lessons are learnt over a period of many years and, again, a long-term plan for assimilating this skill set is essential.
Alongside this process, ensuring that you are on a professional development programme and improving your skills will mean you become increasingly attractive to employers and can progress both within and outside of your current corporate role. Qualifications will always be the starting point when companies are looking to build out their treasury departments.
There is little doubt that Fintech has impacted upon treasury skills, and it is important that you understand the current trends in treasury technology. Now could be the time to ensure that your professional examinations transfer into the day-to-day responsibilities of the job for which you are aiming.
You will need to demonstrate your skills and their relevance to the role of the treasurer in your current firm and in the one you are aiming for.
Finally, a mentor you can trust will help to advance your career. Talk to your current line manager for advice as to how you might improve your prospects. A good manager will realise that helping your career will improve their own prospects.
Simon Lynch is the owner of Treasury Talent.
Treasury Talent is a specialist treasury talent provider solely focussed on the treasury market with offices in Sydney covering Australia, Singapore covering Asia, and San Francisco covering California and the USA. To make contact firstname.lastname@example.org