What Happens at the Top of Treasury Departments?

💲 We simplify Corporate Treasury Concepts - 🎙️ From the podcast Corporate Treasury 101

What Happens at the Top of Treasury Departments?

Welcome to Corporate Treasury 101! Today, we invite you to join us on an enlightening journey through the upper echelons of the treasury department hierarchy. Leading us through this exploration is our esteemed guest, Mike Richards, a seasoned professional in the field with a wealth of insights to share.

As the CEO of the Treasury Recruitment Company and the host of the Treasury Career Corner podcast, Mike returns for our third episode in a series dedicated to treasury roles. In our previous sessions, we delved into entry-level and mid-level positions, and now it’s time to ascend to the top roles within a treasury department and discover what it truly means to be at the top.

Throughout this article, we aim to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the different titles and responsibilities within the treasury department, accompanied by best practices for structuring your treasury operations. Drawing from over 200 interviews with treasury professionals, we’ll share common traits and key takeaways that will empower you in your career.

Here’s a preview of what you can expect in this article:

  • Unveiling the secrets of the treasury department hierarchy.
  • Discovering influential roles and hidden responsibilities.
  • Exploring the impact of cash culture and the role of automation.
  • Differentiating between CFOs and group treasurers.
  • Charting your path to exciting career opportunities.
  • Uncovering winning skills for treasury success.
  • Gaining insights from 200+ interviews with treasury professionals.
  • Finding variety and intrigue in treasury roles.
  • And much more.

So, let’s embark on this enlightening journey together as we unravel the dynamics of the top levels of the treasury department hierarchy and gather valuable insights to fuel our professional growth. Let’s begin!

Understanding the Top Levels of a Treasury Department

When we look at the top tiers of a treasury department, we find a series of important roles, each with distinct responsibilities and levels of authority. Mike Richards, CEO of the Treasury Recruitment Company, was kind enough to break down these positions for us, painting a clearer picture of how these senior roles interact and contribute to the overall operation of the treasury.

The Global Treasurer/ Director of Treasury

The Global Treasurer or Director of Treasury is at the apex of the treasury pyramid. They have the ultimate responsibility for the treasury department, with various other roles sitting beneath them in the hierarchy. The Global Treasurer might be based in a company’s headquarter, for instance, in the US.

International Treasurers

The Global Treasurer’s immediate deputies are the International Treasurers. They manage treasury functions across different regions. For example, an EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) Treasurer would oversee treasury activities throughout these regions. Similarly, an Asia Pacific Treasurer could manage the affairs in the APAC region.

Deputy and Assistant Treasurers

Beneath the International Treasurers, you’d typically find Deputy Treasurers and Assistant Treasurers. An Assistant Treasurer assists with daily operations and often requires approval from their superiors for key decisions. On the other hand, a Deputy Treasurer possesses more decision-making authority and typically does not need to seek approval for important decisions.

An Assistant Treasurer often has a more ‘hands-on’ role, ensuring the smooth running of daily operations and possibly managing staff. Meanwhile, the Deputy Treasurer focuses on executing the treasury strategies defined by the Global Treasurer and could even handle responsibilities such as investor relations or leading the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) agenda.

The Treasury Pyramid Explained

Mike points out that the Global Treasurer typically interfaces directly with the company’s CFO. They set the goals for the year, guide their team in achieving these objectives and check in with their CFO periodically. This role requires at least 10 years of experience, with some Global Treasurers having over 30 years of experience.

Meanwhile, the International Treasurers handle regional responsibilities, working harmoniously with the Global Treasurer to achieve the overall goals. They oversee the implementation of the company’s treasury policies in their respective regions.

The Deputy Treasurers are the key strategists of the treasury. They interpret the overall strategy the Global Treasurer sets and work out the best way to execute it. They are focused more “upwards,” dealing with external entities such as banks and working on outward-facing activities.

Assistant Treasurers, however, are focused more “downwards.” They help the Deputy Treasurers execute the strategies and ensure the smooth running of the treasury operations. They usually have staff responsibilities, ensuring everything works as it should within the team.

Understanding the Different Titles and Responsibilities in the Treasury Department

In our conversation, Mike clarified a few points about various roles in the treasury department. Let’s dive into those details and unravel what each title signifies and how their responsibilities can differ depending on the size and scope of the organization.

The Distinction between a Group and a Global Treasurer

A Group Treasurer and a Global Treasurer might sound the same, but their scope and responsibility can differ significantly. You can think of the titles as broad categories. For example, a Global Treasurer might be responsible for multiple regional treasury centres and a large global team, spanning multiple time zones. On the other hand, a Group Treasurer could be managing a more localized balance sheet, maybe a domestic one, with a smaller team. The key takeaway here is the responsibilities and scale can greatly differ even though the titles may appear similar.

The Role of an Assistant Treasurer vs Treasury Assistant

Now, given the similarity in names, you might be wondering about the difference between an Assistant Treasurer and a Treasury Assistant. However, these are quite different roles. An Assistant Treasurer is a senior position, typically requiring around 8 to 10 years of experience, and they may have qualifications in treasury or accounting. They support the execution of the treasury strategy and often oversee a team.

On the other hand, a Treasury Assistant is more of an entry-level position. They carry out daily treasury tasks and report to senior staff, getting trained and guided.

The Diverse Nature of Treasury Roles

Finally, it’s crucial to remember that the structure and responsibilities of treasury roles can vary widely between organizations. Some companies might prefer a highly centralized treasury department, while others may diffuse responsibilities out to the business. Therefore, the roles we’ve discussed may look different from one organization to another.

Remember, these titles and their duties aren’t set in stone. Each company will tailor the roles according to its needs. So, if you’re working in or with a treasury department, it’s essential to understand the specific responsibilities of each title in your organization.

Understanding the Best Practices for Treasury Structure

The structure of a treasury department is a crucial element for any company, directly impacting efficiency and the success of financial operations. However, does a one-size-fits-all structure exist, or is it dependent on the company’s unique context? In this section, we explore the diversity of treasury structures and investigate if there is a ‘best way’ to structure a treasury department.

There’s No “One Size Fits All” for Treasury Departments

According to Mike, there’s no definitive answer to whether there is the best way to organize a treasury department. The structure that works for one company may not necessarily work for another. Factors such as the company’s central ethos, size, and industry play a significant role in deciding the structure.

Mike conducted a study for a client, which included big names like Reckitt Benkiser, Kimberly Clark, and Pfizer, to find the best structure. What he found was fascinating – no two companies had the same treasury department structure.

Tailoring to Company Needs

Companies tailor their treasury departments to their specific needs and change over time. A company might have a very operational treasury department supervised by a senior treasury person, while another company may have a completely different structure.

The structure of a treasury department can also change and evolve. When a new treasurer steps in, they might decide to reorganize the department in a more efficient way. Therefore, a treasury department has no set structure; it’s highly dependent on the company’s specific requirements and circumstances.

The Role of People and Company Culture

Guillaume and Mike agree that the people managing the treasury department significantly influence its efficiency. Depending on who is at the helm, the department might operate differently. The company’s culture and risk appetite also shape the treasury department.

Managing Multiple Regional Departments

As Mike highlights, one of the challenges of treasury management is coordinating different regional treasury departments. With departments spread across different geographical locations, such as Europe, the US, and Asia Pacific, each having its nuances, ensuring that everything is coordinated and synchronized is a complex task.

To summarize, the best practice for organizing a treasury department is to tailor it to the company’s unique requirements. It should be flexible and adaptable to changes and align with the company’s culture and risk appetite. Managing a treasury department is no small feat, but it can significantly benefit a company when done effectively.

Treasurers in Corporate Structures
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The Role and Influence of Treasurers in Corporate Structures

Where does the Treasurer stand in corporate hierarchies, and what kind of influence do they wield? How do their roles vary across different regions? Here we discuss these intriguing points based on the insightful conversation between Guillaume and Mike Richards.

Things can get a bit complicated regarding the place of treasurers on the corporate ladder. Their role, level of influence, and positioning on the corporate ladder can vary drastically between regions, particularly between the US, UK, and Europe.

Differences Across Regions

Mike Richards points out a distinct contrast between the role of treasurers in the US, UK, and Europe. He reveals that in his 25 years of experience in treasury recruitment, he has never seen a Group Treasurer in the UK who sits on the board. Though he believes they deserve a place on the board due to the criticality of the treasury to a company’s operations, it is not a common practice in the UK.

However, in US companies, it’s not uncommon to see the Treasurer or the treasury department represented at the board level. You might find the VP of Treasury or other treasury officials alongside the CFO. This indicates that in the US, the treasury significantly influences the company’s overall strategy and decisions.

This disparity in roles between the US and the UK might arise from how finance and treasury have evolved differently in these regions. In the US, banking professionals have a stronger inclination to move into corporate roles, including treasury, which could account for their higher visibility and influence within the company.

Key Roles in Treasury

It’s important to understand that the roles within a treasury department can vary widely, and so can their titles. The Group Treasurer, VP of Treasury, Deputy Treasurer, and Assistant VP of Treasury are all roles within this department.

A Group Treasurer typically reports to the CFO and is responsible for the company’s financial planning, funding, and risk management. Depending on the region and the company’s structure, they may also have a strong relationship with the financial controller and be involved in managing ‘today’s money’.

On the other hand, a VP of Treasury might be in charge of areas like investor relations and financing, leveraging their banking experience and relationships. After gaining enough experience and demonstrating their capabilities, they might eventually step into the role of Treasurer.

The Impact of Cash and Finance Culture on the Role of Group Treasurers in the US and the UK

Guillaume and Mike Richards delve into the influence of cash and finance culture on the valuation and roles of group treasurers in different regions, particularly the US and the UK.

A country’s cash and finance culture can significantly shape the value and respect accorded to a group treasurer.

US: Bigger Balance Sheets, More Responsibilities

According to Mike, one of the key differences in the cash and finance culture between the US and the UK lies in the size of the companies balance sheets. When he attends the US Conference of Treasurers, Mike often encounters treasurers managing balance sheets that are ten times larger than their UK counterparts.

For instance, even a company ranked 250 in the Fortune 500 (the list of the 500 most significant corporations in the US) could still boast a larger balance sheet than many of the top companies in the UK and Europe. This size difference is attributable to the vast scale of the US.

Due to this immense scale and the significant volumes of cash that US treasurers manage, they often have more responsibilities and hold more senior positions.

The Complexity of US Regulations

Hussam adds another layer of complexity to the role of treasurers in the US: the interplay of federal and state regulations. Each US state may have its financial regulations, adding to the complexity of managing large-scale treasury operations. This complexity, coupled with the lead market status of the US, could add to the elevated status of treasurers in the US.

The Impact on Group Treasurers

Due to the size of the companies they work for and the complex regulatory environment, these discussions imply that group treasurers in the US often shoulder heavier responsibilities and hold more influential positions within their organizations. They manage more substantial cash and navigate more complex regulations than their UK peers. As such, their roles are perceived as more critical, leading to higher valuation and respect in their organizations.

The Evolution of the Role of Group Treasurers in Europe and the Impact of Automation

Guillaume and Mike Richards discuss the shifting landscape of the group treasurer’s role in Europe, affected by factors like economic changes, the location of regional centres, and automation.

The Group treasurers in Europe hold various positions within companies, similar to a spectrum between the US and the UK.

Group Treasurers in Major European Corporations

Group treasurers often become part of the board in some of the significant European companies, especially those in Switzerland and Belgium. This phenomenon is more typical among the top-tier companies, usually in the top five or ten.

The Influence of Regional Centers

Over the years, the locations of regional centres across Europe have shifted due to factors like tax breaks and changes in rules. For example, there was a substantial move to the Netherlands when the country offered tax breaks, attracting numerous businesses. When the tax rules changed, companies took a fresh look at their operations and relocated accordingly.

Another shift occurred when Switzerland became a desirable location for companies like Colgate to establish large treasury centres. Mike shares his experience recruiting a team for Colgate during this time, highlighting the dynamic nature of treasury operations.

A more recent trend has been the rise of service centres in Eastern Europe and even as far away as the Middle East. Low-cost centres like the Philippines and outsourcing hubs like India have also become popular due to potential cost savings.

The Impact of Automation

However, as automation progresses, it’s reshaping the treasury landscape dramatically. Over the past two decades, Mike observes that the treasury has become more intelligent, less about processing jobs, and more about critical analysis.

Jobs once filled by treasury analysts and dealers, often more mundane or less sophisticated, are now being automated. Dealing, for instance, is now handled by automated systems.

In the early stages of this shift, Mike recalls the introduction of platforms like FX All, which allows companies to exchange and hedge their foreign exchange risk. With the advent of such platforms, many traders found their roles becoming obsolete, replaced by automated systems.

Despite this wave of automation, humans are still crucial for treasury operations, as we still need people to manage these systems.

The Distinguishing Roles of the CFO and the Group Treasurer

In this part of the conversation, Hussam and Mike Richards discuss the relationship and distinct roles of the company’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and the group treasurer.

The CFO of the Company
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Understanding the Role of the CFO

The CFO, or Chief Financial Officer, oversees everything related to finance in the organization. They have a crucial team supporting them, including tax specialists and financial controllers. Let’s break down their responsibilities:

  1. Tax Management: The CFO’s team manages the company’s taxes. This involves understanding and adhering to the tax laws of different countries and planning for future taxes. The aim is to minimize the tax bill legally and efficiently. This sometimes draws criticism when companies achieve significant tax savings, but that’s what they’re meant to do—optimize the company’s finances within the legal framework.
  2. Financial Control: Another crucial role of the CFO’s team is to oversee financial control. This role involves managing the organization’s current finances and historical financial data. It involves ensuring the efficiency of financial operations and auditing them to ensure they comply with regulations and standards.

Exploring the Role of the Group Treasurer

The group treasurer, on the other hand, plays a different yet equally critical role in the organization. They’re more relationship-focused, which means they’re often the link between the company and its financial partners. Here are some of their key responsibilities:

  1. Current and Future Cash Management: The group treasurer manages the company’s money and anticipates future cash flow. They’re also responsible for managing financial risk, which involves predicting potential issues that could disrupt the company’s finances in the future.
  2. Strategic Planning for Financial Activities: When a CFO considers a major financial decision, like buying another company, they usually consult the group treasurer. They don’t necessarily ask the financial controller about the means to purchase it. Instead, they ask the Treasurer how they can finance the acquisition. For example, this could involve raising funds through a bond issue or using a revolving credit facility. So, the Treasurer’s role is very forward-looking and involves substantial planning.

Simply put, while the CFO is focused on the company’s current financial situation, the group treasurer is always looking ahead, managing today’s money with an eye on future needs and risks. It’s a diverse role that requires a mix of financial knowledge, relationship management skills, and strategic planning capabilities.

These roles may seem different, but they’re closely interconnected. The CFO and the group treasurer are critical for maintaining financial health and strategic growth.

How Different Financial Roles Interact and Work Together within a Company

Understanding how different financial roles within a corporation interact and rely on each other is key to managing finances effectively. This topic was discussed in an enlightening conversation between Mike Richards and Hussam.

Building a Bridge between Treasury and Tax

Mike explains that there is significant overlap and mutual dependence between the treasurer and tax expert roles. Why is that, you might wonder? Any decision the Treasurer makes can affect the company’s tax situation. Therefore, they need to understand each other’s roles and constantly communicate.

In the past, some companies had one person who was the head of tax and treasury. Nowadays, this is less common. It’s more likely that a company will have separate people handling each role. This makes sense as each role requires different skills and knowledge.

But despite these separate roles, there’s still a need for cooperation and coordination. When a treasurer wants to decide, they often ask the tax expert about the possible tax effects. They act like advisors to each other, discussing and deciding the best approach for the company.

The Different Nature of Treasury and Tax Roles

In their conversation, Mike and Hussam also discussed how these two roles differ. The world of treasury, according to Mike, is less rules-focused than the tax role. Treasury is more about selecting and using tools from the treasury toolbox to effectively manage the company’s money. They have to consider not only the present but also the future financial needs of the company.

On the other hand, the tax role is more about following the tax laws strictly. Tax experts must stick to the rules and ensure the company is tax compliant. There isn’t much room for flexibility or creativity. However, this strict adherence to rules is crucial to avoid tax issues and ensure that the company operates within legal boundaries.

The Implications of Interdependence

The interdependence between these roles demonstrates the complexity of managing a company’s finances. Each role, while distinct, must work in harmony with the others. The CFO, Treasurer, tax expert, and financial control guy must understand each other’s roles and work together towards the common goal of financial stability and growth. Their collaboration can impact everything from the company’s day-to-day operations to its long-term strategic planning.

Moving Up or Across: What Happens After Treasury?

When people work in a treasury department, they might wonder where they can go next in their careers. Mike Richards shares his thoughts on how often people move from the treasury to other areas in finance.

Going from Treasury to Other Roles? Not That Often!

First, Mike notes that while many people come into the treasury from other areas, such as tax, it’s uncommon to see people move from treasury to tax or financial control. This could be because treasury work is exciting and full of unique challenges, making it a job many are happy to stick with.

Some Become Deputy CFOs

In some cases, treasury workers might become Deputy CFO (second-in-command to the Chief Financial Officer). However, Mike points out that these roles focus more on the company’s overall money matters than the detailed work often found in treasury.

Taking on More Tasks in Treasury

Treasury professionals are also often given more tasks to handle within their roles. For example, they might be asked to manage relationships with banks and investors. Another important task they might handle is working on ESG goals – these targets a company sets to do better for the environment, society, and how it is governed. Mike shares that ESG goals are becoming a big part of treasury work, as these goals are often focused on in every company’s financing decision.

Wanting a Bigger Role in Treasury

Mike observes that many treasury professionals are keen to take on bigger roles within treasury rather than moving to other departments. This might be because the journey to becoming a CFO is tough, with a lot of competition from people in all areas of finance.

So, what does this all mean? While treasury professionals might not often move to other departments, they find ways to grow and take on more responsibilities within treasury. This can include focusing on wider company goals like ESG targets, which makes their work even more meaningful.

Who Makes the Best CFO: A Treasurer, Head of Tax, or Head of Financial Control?

Ever wondered how being in treasury might give you an advantage if you aim to become a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) one day? Where would you stand in a race for a CFO position against a head of tax and financial control? Let’s hear it from Mike Richards, who brings his vast experience and insight into this question.

Treasury’s Advantage: Versatility and Business Engagement

According to Mike, the good news for treasury professionals is that they are increasingly considered for higher roles like CFO. This change is because the treasury is no longer seen as a siloed department. Treasury professionals are often more involved in the wider business than their peers in tax or financial control.

For example, the nature of the tax department’s work is often focused strictly on tax issues. While crucial to a company, financial control primarily focuses on financial matters. On the other hand, treasury’s scope can extend to various areas like supply chain and ESG (environmental, social, and governance) goals.

The More Involved, The Better

Mike points out that the more involved treasurers are in different aspects of the business, the better their chances of moving into the CFO role. He has seen cases where the business teams prefer to have a treasurer step into the CFO role because of their broad business understanding.

From Treasurer to Deputy CFO and Beyond

Mike also notes that many treasurers become real candidates for Deputy CFO roles. Once they start taking on other responsibilities beyond treasury, they are often allowed to step into the CFO position. Some make it, while others may not.

A Focus on Wider Business Operations

The takeaway from Mike’s insights is that focusing on wider business operations can help treasury professionals become strong contenders for the CFO role. In the race to the top, the breadth of understanding and business involvement that treasury professionals bring can give them a competitive edge.

What Technical Skills and Business Impact Influence a Treasurer’s Career Progression

Let’s dive deeper into the evolving role of treasury professionals. Our host, Hussam, points out a fascinating aspect: it’s not just about having excellent technical skills but how those skills impact the wider business. Mike Richards shares the career trajectory of Toby Shaw, a notable industry figure who has effectively made this transition.

The Expanded Role of Treasury Professionals

Hussam emphasizes that being an exceptional treasurer goes beyond managing cashflow or maintaining banking relationships. The key is understanding how these activities contribute to the success of the wider business. This insight applies to most roles. The more you understand and enhance your impact on the business, the more valuable you become, especially at higher levels.

Toby Shaw: A Role Model for Treasurers

Mike brings up Toby Shaw, an individual who exemplifies this approach. Shaw, a Non-Executive Director with Our Atmosphere, a non-profit climate change organization, has a commendable career journey. He has worked for Emirates Global Aluminum (EGA) for 14 years, starting as a Senior Credit Risk Officer and moving up to Corporate Treasurer and Chief Risk Officer.

Over time, Toby has broadened his role within the company. He became a board member for EGA America and has actively promoted treasury innovation in the UAE. Toby holds the position of Senior Director of Treasury Risk and Insurance. His career showcases how treasury professional can leverage their skills to add value to the wider business and move up in the organization.

The Convergence of Treasury, Risk, and Insurance

Mike points out that an interesting trend is the closer alignment of treasury with risk and insurance roles. He has noticed that these areas are becoming more intertwined, further emphasizing the evolving scope of the treasury. It’s another way treasury professionals can become more involved with business operations.

Exploring Common Traits and Takeaways from 200+ Interviews with Treasury Professionals

Our host, Hussam, questions Mike Richards about his key takeaways from interviewing numerous treasury professionals. Mike shares his insights, touching upon common traits, driving factors, and the importance of personality fit with business needs.

What Do Treasury Professionals Enjoy About Their Role?

When asked about the driving factors and what these professionals enjoy in their roles, Mike references a previous episode on the ‘treasury wheel.’ This concept encapsulates hard skills, including qualifications and attitudes to risk and risk mitigation. But he also emphasizes the softer aspects like relationship building and the significance of personality fit.

Each Treasurer is unique, with their personality sometimes shaping their suitability for a business. Some are eager to push boundaries and embrace everything; others might be more conservative and suited to a business with a similar mindset. Understanding this match can be vital to a successful treasury role.

The Evolution of Treasurers and Businesses

Mike also observes the different stages of personal evolution among treasury professionals. At one stage in their career, a treasurer might be an excellent fit for a company at a similar stage of its evolution. He further notes that companies are not static; they are dynamic, constantly evolving entities. Their reactions to world events, like a pandemic or potential recession, are varied.

It is key to finding a treasurer who fits a company’s ethos during its unique evolution. And, as Mike puts it, his role is to be a ‘matcher’—pairing people with the right talent to companies, CFOs, and their changing requirements.

The Changing Role of a CFO and Its Impact on Treasury

One significant point Mike raises is the impact of a change in the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) on the treasury team. When a new CFO comes in, they might ‘clean house’ if their approach differs from the previous CFO. Conversely, an established company that needs a shake-up might benefit from a CFO ready to modernize practices. Mike uses the transition from Excel to a dedicated treasury management system as an example.

In conclusion, Mike’s insights highlight the diverse traits of successful treasury professionals and the importance of aligning a treasurer’s skills and personality with the ethos and needs of the company. The evolving landscape of treasury roles also necessitates a proactive approach to continual learning and adaptation. The right match can lead to a harmonious and successful collaboration, benefiting both the individual and the business.

a Great Group Treasurer
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Can a Great Group Treasurer Thrive in One Industry but Not in Another?

In this section, Guillaume probes Mike on the adaptability of a great group treasurer across various industries. Mike acknowledges this possibility, citing different factors influencing a treasurer’s fit with a particular industry.

Factors Influencing a Treasurer’s Suitability

Mike brings up the ‘treasury wheel’ again, a concept that includes a variety of factors determining a treasurer’s fit with different companies. These factors can range from personal preferences to moral considerations.

For instance, a candidate might refuse to work in certain industries due to moral objections. They might not want to be in defence or high-tech industries, preferring to focus on their treasury tasks within industries they’re comfortable with. These factors contribute to what makes a great treasurer but also underscore that there’s no one-size-fits-all answer.

The Unpredictability of People and Life

One key takeaway from Mike is the unpredictability of people. Even a highly suitable candidate for a role might face life changes that influence their professional decisions. For instance, changing family circumstances could lead a perfect candidate to withdraw from consideration for a job.

Rather than dwelling on the frustration of such scenarios, Mike emphasizes the importance of adaptability. Life moves on, things change, and adapting and responding is crucial.

The concept of a ‘great treasurer’ is not absolute but is influenced by various factors, including personal preferences, moral considerations, and even life events. Understanding these factors can significantly determine a treasurer’s fit with a particular industry or company. This understanding helps find the right match and ensures a successful collaboration beneficial for both the individual and the business.

The Role of Chaos in Treasury and Its Impact on Careers

Guillaume introduces the topic of chaos in treasury and its potential impact on career growth, citing an episode with Wade Olsen as a reference. He highlights the importance of risk management in treasury and wonders how chaos fits into this context. Guillaume asks Mike to share his perspective on chaos in treasury and its implications for career advancement, particularly for those at the top of the ladder.

Chaos: Not Desirable in Treasury Operations

Mike agrees with Guillaume’s observation that a chaotic treasury team can lead to disaster. Treasury functions require structure, defined governance frameworks, and segregation of duties to effectively manage risks. Therefore, the aim is not to encourage chaos within the team itself.

Adaptability to Challenging Times

While chaos may not be desirable within the treasury team, Mike emphasizes the need for treasurers who can handle challenging times and adapt to evolving environments. This refers to the ability to navigate changes and uncertainties rather than a chaotic working environment. The key is to find treasury professionals who can cope with stress and mitigate risks effectively.

The Importance of Soft Skills

Mike underscores the significance of soft skills in treasury roles. While technical skills and experience are important considerations when hiring a CFO, treasury positions require a different approach. The focus shifts towards assessing a candidate’s personality traits, attitude towards risk, ability to cope with stress and adaptability. These softer skills play a vital role in determining the suitability of a treasury professional.

Chaos is not desirable within the treasury team, but the ability to adapt to challenging times and manage risks effectively is crucial. Treasury professionals must possess the necessary soft skills to thrive in dynamic environments. The emphasis on personality traits and attitudes towards risk sets treasury roles apart from other finance positions regarding recruitment and career advancement.

Fostering Team Growth and Development in Treasury

Guillaume asks Mike how group treasurers can ensure the growth and development of their team members. He highlights the importance of enabling team members to learn, take on new responsibilities, and grow within the treasury function. Guillaume seeks insights from Mike on the strategies and approaches treasurers can employ to achieve this.

Creating a Supportive Environment

Mike begins by sharing insights on being a good boss and creating a supportive work environment. He refers to a previous discussion about ways to recruit junior treasury professionals and mentions key factors that professionals look for in a boss or manager:

  1. Be a good boss or manager.
  2. Offer a decent work-life balance.
  3. Foster a friendly and supportive team.
  4. Provide varied work opportunities.

He emphasizes that these factors are often more important to treasury professionals than salary considerations.

Regular Communication and Understanding Employee Needs

Mike suggests that treasurers should regularly communicate with their team members to understand their aspirations and needs. He mentions the importance of asking employees what they want in the present and future, whether three months, six months, or a year from now. Treasurers can create an environment that supports individual growth by being attentive and responsive to their team members’ desires.

Addressing Employee Concerns and Grievances

Mike advises treasurers to address employee concerns and grievances proactively. He highlights the importance of open communication and encourages treasurers to ask questions such as:

  • How can I be a better boss to you?
  • What is your desired work-life balance?
  • How do you feel about the team dynamics?
  • Are you getting enough variety in your work?

By addressing these areas, treasurers can address about 80% of employees’ complaints and create a positive work environment.

Treasurers can foster team growth and development by creating a supportive environment, actively communicating with their team members, and addressing their needs and concerns. This involves being a good boss, providing a decent work-life balance, fostering a friendly and supportive team culture, and offering varied work opportunities. By actively engaging with employees and understanding their aspirations, treasurers can effectively enable the growth and development of their team members within the treasury function.

Keeping Treasury Careers Interesting and Challenging

Hussam raises the question of how treasurers can keep their careers interesting and engaging, especially after reaching senior positions or having extensive experience in the field. He mentions that while treasurers’ roles in different companies may seem similar, the treasury aspect can vary significantly due to factors such as company culture. He seeks Mike’s insights on how treasurers find new challenges and continue learning in their careers.

Diverse Industries and Evolving Treasury Teams

Mike acknowledges that different industries can bring unique challenges to treasury roles. He mentions the example of transitioning from fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) to heavy industrial sectors, which require treasurers to adapt to new environments and operations. Furthermore, he highlights the evolving nature of treasury teams and the treasury function itself, emphasizing that joining a company that needs improvement presents treasurers with opportunities to make a meaningful impact.

Initial Challenges and Transformation

Mike explains that when treasurers enter a new role, especially in a company that requires improvement, they can expect initial challenges. These challenges may include organizing and gaining visibility into the balance sheet and addressing specific areas like cash management, foreign exchange (FX) risk, and overall risk management. However, he notes that treasurers often come prepared with expertise and guiding principles to tackle these issues effectively.

Long-Term Engagement and Changing Dynamics

Over time, Mike observes that treasurers may experience periods of boredom, particularly when they reach a steady state in their roles. However, he highlights that certain factors can keep treasurers engaged for extended periods:

  1. Shifts and expansions: Changes in the company’s strategic direction, acquisitions, or expansions can provide treasurers with new challenges and opportunities for growth.
  2. Adapting to changing circumstances: Some treasurers stay engaged because their roles evolve due to company financial or regulatory landscape shifts. Even though they may hold the same job title, their responsibilities and focus change significantly.
  3. New challenges and technologies: The treasury field offers many new challenges and technological advancements, such as cryptocurrency, cybersecurity, and emerging systems. By embracing these advancements and coping with adversity, treasurers can find excitement and growth opportunities in their careers.

Treasury professionals can keep their careers interesting and fulfilling by exploring diverse industries, embracing transformational opportunities within their roles, and staying updated with new challenges and technologies. By seeking out new challenges, treasurers can continue learning, adapt to changing circumstances, and significantly impact their organizations.

Finding Variety and Opportunities in Treasury Roles

Hussam acknowledges that the variety in treasury roles can stem from different factors, including industry, regions, and the company’s evolution. He prompts Mike to share additional insights on this topic.

The Attitude Of The CFO in Treasury Department
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Variety in Industry, Regions, and Company Evolution

Mike agrees with Hussam’s points and elaborates on the various sources of variety in treasury roles:

  1. Industry: Transitioning from one industry to another, from fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) to heavy industrial sectors, brings distinct challenges and opportunities.
  2. Regions: Operating in different regions can introduce unique regulatory and market dynamics that treasurers need to navigate.
  3. Company Evolution: The financial health and status of the company, particularly its cash position, can significantly impact the treasury function. Moving from a cash-rich company to a debt-laden one, or vice versa, presents treasurers with fresh challenges and opportunities for growth.

The Attitude Of The CFO And Company Focus

Mike emphasizes that the attitude of the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and the company’s overall focus also shape the role of the Treasurer and the opportunities for variety and growth. He mentions that CFOs may have different expectations for treasurers, such as:

  1. Custodians of Cash: Some CFOs prioritize cash management and view treasurers as guardians of the company’s cash reserves.
  2. Visionaries and Technology Enablers: Other CFOs seek treasurers who can bring in innovative technologies and contribute to the company’s vision for the future.

Mike highlights that there is no definitive answer to what companies seek in their next Treasurer. It depends on various factors, including the company’s sector, growth objectives, financial situation, and expansion plans. Each company’s unique circumstances and goals shape the desired qualities and skill sets sought in treasury professionals.

Adapting to Change and Expansion

In addition to the factors discussed, Mike notes that companies expanding internationally or undergoing mergers and acquisitions create opportunities for treasury professionals. As companies extend their reach into new markets, treasurers may be called upon to navigate the complexities of global financial operations and ensure smooth integration of financial systems.

Treasurers can find variety and growth opportunities in their roles by exploring different industries, adapting to changing company dynamics, and aligning their skills with the CFO’s vision and company objectives. Whether it’s through industry transitions, regional variations, or responding to evolving company needs, treasury professionals can continually expand their expertise and make a significant impact in their organizations.


To wrap up our exploration of the treasury department hierarchy, we want to remind you how essential each rung of this ladder is in shaping our financial future. From understanding different titles and responsibilities to unpacking best practices for structuring treasury operations, we’ve sought to provide you with a thorough guide to treasury’s upper echelons.

In our journey, we’ve unravelled the layers of cash culture and the influence of automation, highlighting how both elements are revolutionizing the roles of treasurers across the globe. As we’ve noted, even though CFOs and group treasurers may sometimes seem similar, their distinct responsibilities play unique roles in shaping a company’s financial future.

Moreover, we hope our deep dive into various financial roles and their interplay within an organization has helped you understand the available pathways. Whether aiming to climb vertically or shift horizontally, remember there’s no ‘one size fits all’ in treasury. Many opportunities beckon, and your skills, experiences, and passions can open doors you may not have considered.

The insights gleaned from over 200 interviews with treasury professionals have offered us a treasure trove of lessons. One universal truth? Success can come from any industry and be shaped by various factors – from technical skills and business impacts to adaptability in the face of chaos.

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