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A career in treasury

Working in treasury is an intellectually stimulating and diverse career path. It involves combining multiple disciplines to ensure an organisation’s financial stability and growth.

So, when considering a career in treasury, here are a few things to think about:

  •       What do I want my area of specialism to be?
  •       What sector do I want to work in?
  •       What type of career progression do I want to have?

What comes up if you were to search “what is the difference between treasury and finance?”. Google might say something like: ‘Treasury focuses on an organisation’s short-term liquidity and financial risk, whereas financial management focuses on the management of a company’s long-term financial performance and strategy.’

However, there are many treasurers out there who are likely to disagree with this definition.

So, what is treasury? Who becomes a treasurer and how do they do it? Where do they work? Does every business need a treasury department and, if not, why?

These are some of the questions I asked myself when stepping into my role as a Research & Content Consultant for the Treasury department here at Harvey John.

What is treasury?

Defining the role of a treasurer can be difficult. Fundamentally, it involves the management of money and financial risk. It’s about ensuring a business not only has the funds and resources to maintain functionality but also, in some areas, developing strategies to grow business revenue, and weighing up risk versus reward. Whether you’re crunching numbers, collaborating with stakeholders, or managing day-to-day business obligations, treasury encompasses a wide range of responsibilities. From managing cash flow, overseeing banking relationships, conducting risk assessments, and optimizing funding strategies, each day brings new challenges and opportunities to contribute to an organization’s financial well-being.

In a rapidly developing business landscape, the salience of the treasury function has evolved substantially to become a key specialist component within many organisations. The world of treasury has taken a seismic shift from ‘supporting the finance function’ to treasurers becoming key strategic players in the world of business. The momentum treasury has garnered in more recent years has seen hiring managers looking for a wider and more eclectic set of skills in the applicants they’re seeking for their treasury vacancies.

What are employers looking for when hiring a treasurer?

There is no, ‘one size fits all’ when becoming a treasury professional, each individual working in the field today took a different path getting there. 

Common traits hiring managers look out for: 

  • A strong mathematical background. This is beneficial as many aspects of treasury are quantitative, although the backgrounds of treasury professionals can vary.
  • Association of Corporate Treasurers (ACT) qualifications. Pursuing a certificate from the ACT will further enhance your chances of securing that dream job. These qualifications, which can be achieved outside of  university, not only enhance your expertise and credibility but increase your worth.
    The ACT offer a wide range of qualifications. From a Certificate in Treasury Fundamentals (CertTF) to an Advanced Diploma in Treasury Management (MCT)

However, hiring managers don’t only consider certificates when looking to fill a position. They also take into account what is known as “soft skills”, especially with those starting out their career. Treasury is a collaborative environment and it involves you working alongside various departments so effective communication skills are a must!  As you continuously build relationships both internally with finance, accounting and legal teams, you are also creating and maintaining key business relationships, sometimes internationally, so being an approachable, friendly individual is essential.

Top Tip:

Don’t be put off by the job title, if it looks to be in your wheelhouse, apply! Something I discovered throughout my own learning is that no job title in the treasury world is mutually exclusive. The title doesn’t determine the salary and the salary doesn’t determine the title. In true treasury fashion, it takes a little more work through cross-referencing the three S’s:

  • Skills
  • Salary
  • Seniority
Where do treasurers work?

Treasury management is required in all businesses, across all industries, no matter how big or small; and an ever-increasing number of businesses are realising the value of having a dedicated treasury function, if not an entire department, from small-medium-sized enterprises to non-profits, the public sector and of course the big FTSE-100 and Global 500 companies. The role of the treasurer will vary depending on where you work.

It is important you have some idea of the type of company you want to work for. This will determine your level of exposure to key treasury functions and strategic activities. It may also delegate the sector you find yourself working in. Corporate treasury is significantly different to working as a treasurer for a bank or building society. Too much experience in one may limit your opportunities to work in the other.

Although sharing many of the same core skills such as risk management, money movement, and cash flow forecasting, the execution of these obligations will be entirely negated by whether it’s a corporate entity or a banking institution. Corporate treasury as a cost centre will focus more on liquidity management, reducing the costs and risks associated with the business and ensuring the company has enough cash available at any given time to cover all outgoings and expenses.

Alternatively, working in a profit centre (bank) means alongside the treasury fundamentals and core skills, you will be actively seeking chances to increase overall revenue through means such as foreign exchange, hedging and trading. The approach to bank treasury is a little different and despite the tools being the same the practice of using them comes from a different perspective.

Now, many of you may be thinking: ‘My work as a treasurer aligns more with profit centres and I work for a corporate company’. This is where things get interesting and somewhat paradoxical.
When businesses reach a certain level, they transform from cost centres to profits centres as surplus cash is used to further increase revenue.

Future career in treasury: What’s ahead?  

Treasury is incredibly multifaceted and has become a truly dynamic and vital component in the world of finance. It can be a lucrative and diverse career path, providing a myriad of opportunities not only across sectors but in terms of seniority and career progression. This multi-discipline line of work can allow you to expand your skill set and industry knowledge, develop critical and strategic thinking, work internationally, and influence the growth and trajectory of your organisation. You become a key player in the business and finance world.

Whether you are a seasoned treasury professional or aspiring to step into this dynamic field, embracing the challenges and rewards treasury has to offer can pave the way to a rewarding and impactful career.

So, if you are looking for endless opportunities for continuous learning, innovation, and professional development, consider treasury! Climb to the top of your field and have fun doing it!

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Contact me or Guy Middleton so we can help you with your next step!

Rachael Turquand is a Research & Content Consultant for the Treasury division.

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