The difficult economic climate has created a corporate environment in which treasury matters are at the top of the agenda for most, if not all, organisations. Given the greater focus on treasury teams and the individuals within them, it is of fundamental importance that treasury professionals equip themselves with both the technical and soft skills that they need to perform at the highest level.
A significant development in recent years is that the ‘ivory tower’ approach towards treasury management has been assigned to the history books. The contemporary treasurer is now expected to be more involved with the business than ever before. As a result, the ability to communicate complex treasury matters to stakeholders, who have little or no understanding of treasury or even finance, is a key skill that treasurers must hone in order to further their careers.
Those looking to move into senior treasury roles will need to develop the leadership skills to effectively manage the teams beneath them. The ability to manage upwards is vital for treasurers looking to navigate their own and their teams’ journey towards success. While the role of the treasurer, and the skills that he or she needs to operate at a senior level, may be more complex than ever before, taking a simple and measured approach to your career development remains the best way forward.
The first thing to do is to set an achievable target for the level you want to reach. Then, you need to identify the essential technical and behavioural skills that you will need to be successful in the role. This will help you build a clear picture of the skills you currently have and those that you need to work on. If you have not already qualified, or at least started studying towards them, the AMCT and MCT qualifications will give you the 12 Ones to watch development technical grounding that is essential to becoming a successful treasurer. These qualifications will also make you far more marketable when you are looking for a new challenge. You will then need to think about the core areas of treasury activity in which you lack experience. These could include exposure to hands-on front office risk management, effective liquidity management, debt capital markets or implementation of a treasury management system. Now you can focus your efforts on converting your exam passes into the core day-to-day responsibilities of your job, which will allow you to demonstrate your ability as a treasurer.
When you have set your target, you will need to work with your line manager to put a development programme in place that enables you to build up your experience. If you have not already spoken to your manager about your career planning, you should get their input as to which skills and development points they think you need to improve upon for you to reach your goal. You can then both work together to explore new ways of distributing responsibilities and upcoming projects in order for you to gain the exposure that you are looking for.
The best managers recognise that the most effective way for them to develop their own career is by developing the careers of those in their team. Not only will they improve the performance of their team as you become more capable, but they should also be able to pass on some of their responsibilities to you. This, in turn, will free up more of their time so they can work on new initiatives and projects that will further develop the function’s performance. Having a good relationship and an open line of communication with your manager is the most important factor in your career development. More often than not, they are the ones who will control your access to the experience you need in order to progress.
If you aren’t getting the development you are looking for in your role, it is probably time to look at the external market. Treasury teams are often smaller than other corporate functions, which means that most treasury professionals will have to move externally at least once in their career to progress. Indeed, treasury professionals who stay in one organisation too long, and aren’t able to demonstrate progression over time, are seen as less attractive hires than those who have worked for a number of companies, but have developed a greater breadth of experience. Always look to maximise your development and experience in each role. A key indicator as to your rate of development is whether you’ve added three new bullet points of experience to your CV in the past six months. If you have maximised your development, you will be coming to the job market for the right reasons and, as a result, will be an attractive candidate to employers. Starting your treasury job search will also allow you to conclude as to whether the grass really is greener on the other side or whether it is best to further your career with your current employer.