Treasury departments were once seen as the home of the number crunchers and accountancy experts, but now they are the breeding ground for the senior decision-makers in the largest corporations around the world.
Treasurers are now in their own specialist field, and consequently need to be aware of the unique career paths which lie ahead of them, and where to seek the best advice as to how to negotiate them.
Now seen as the key processors, treasury professionals must be able to incorporate as much information as possible and make the decisions which will affect the firm’s finances. To be able to do this, they will need to showcase skills and different competencies such as technical accounting knowledge, organisational leadership, investment management and when necessary, they must act as financial planners for the company.
It is worth taking a step back at this point to look at how this rounded position can be achieved. Senior treasurers and those that have moved into areas such as Chief Financial Officer within the organisation will recognise that their role involves knowledge of different operations within the firm. Individuals looking to follow in their footsteps need to have as rounded an experience as possible as their career progresses.
This will involve taking the opportunity to work in as many posts as possible from front to back office operations gaining experience as to how the finances of the company operate. Don’t worry that you are being diverted from your path by moving between departments, this will lead to opportunities in the higher echelons of the organisation.
One area which could prove crucial in the later stages of your career development is the ability to deal with investors. Banks and debt holders are no different from other professionals you will meet in day-to-day treasury activities, and yet learning how to manage the company’s relationship with them is a crucial skill which will help to make life easier within your own corporate hierarchy.
Many treasury professionals see their move to senior executive positions blocked because of doubts about their management and interpersonal skills. Relationship and communication expertise need to be added to your skill set if you are to progress smoothly along the career path you have chosen. Experience of dealing with clients and shareholders will enhance your prospects and showcase the cross-functional management experience you have acquired which will be needed in a top-level finance role.
The flexibility needed to move between departments may also lead to a change of employer in order to further your prospects. Experienced treasurers recognise this and an aspirational treasury employee should weigh up the advantages of a move, perhaps to a company with a more complex structure.
The challenges within these roles can involve greater international involvement as well as regulatory complexity. Learning how to cope with those issues will maximise your development. Although this could involve a move to a multi-national, some smaller companies may also offer career advancement, especially if the treasury function is a key component of their business model.
Whether you move companies or not, it is important to keep learning on the job given the specialised nature of the profession. Keeping your skills fresh and ensuring you are up-dating your qualifications will mean you are ready for a move when the opportunities arise. Most companies recognise that it is important to invest in the individual but improving your leadership skills may mean looking at external courses and qualifications.
Also look to be involved in presentations as this will stand you in good stead in the future and ensure that you are noticed by senior management. Treasurers are good at demystifying complex issues, acquiring this skill through presenting to peers or superiors will improve your prospects.
Treasurers are also able to reach out beyond their usual remit and involve themselves not only with the investment programme but also pensions, insurance and M&A work. A pro-active approach driving the commercial imperative will enhance career prospects.
It is vital to be aware of developments in the outside world which impact on your industry. Fintech is a major source of change and innovation and being able to manage an external project reviewing start-up Fintech companies and how they can impact on your firm will ensure you are noticed. Reviewing governance legislation can also have a similar result.
Constantly improving your skills and showing your value to the business or a potential suitor will ensure your career progresses.
Simon Lynch is the owner of Treasury Talent.
Treasury Talent is a specialist treasury talent, recruitment and search 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