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ACT Ones to Watch: Heading for the top (part 1)

Rachael Crocker Treasury, Career Advice

In the first part of her two-part series, Rachael Crocker highlights the five skills and qualities that will help treasury professionals as they move through their careers towards the top roles.

As the role of the treasurer becomes increasingly strategic and high-profile, treasury leaders of the future can look forward to an even more exciting and varied career path than ever before. There are some common themes in terms of personal development areas that some of the most successful treasury leaders have focused on during their journey to the most senior positions. Here we explore how individuals who aspire to reach the top in treasury can ensure they are best placed to do so. Gaining true depth of experience to ensure technical expertise; gaining relevant treasury qualifications; developing soft skills; making moves at the right points in your career; and using your profile and network to your advantage are essential to career development. 

1. Gain depth of expertise 

We live in a fast-paced world where it is increasingly seen as desirable for ambitious, talented professionals to progress more quickly in their careers. Historically, there was a belief that you should serve an extended time in-role before progressing to the next level, an outdated view that happily no longer applies in most companies.

Today, bright individuals starting their treasury career in a forward-thinking organisation can expect to  gain plenty of good, relevant experience and be in a position to move upwards before they would have been allowed the chance to in the past. The specialist nature of treasury also often means that it is possible to gain exposure to more high-profile matters and projects than peers in a more generalist environment. 

However, it's also essential for treasury leaders of the future to ensure that they spend time honing their technical skill set. It is possible to move too quickly through an area of experience without fully exploring the maximum breadth and depth of exposure possible. Naturally ambitious individuals are keen to work on projects and to take on extra responsibility. This is all fantastic for their careers and should of course be encouraged. However, it's essential that rapid progress isn't at the expense of gaining a truly extensive understanding of the foundations of treasury. A strong and extensive technical toolkit is crucial as treasurers move to a more senior level. 

With treasurers expected to be more strategic than ever, a deep knowledge of the workings of treasury departments at all levels and in all areas is vital. We are seeing some bright and extremely talented individuals missing out on the top role because they have not seen all aspects of a particular area or because they have missed out altogether on some of the perceived 'less glamorous' areas of treasury. 

2. Focus on qualifications

Treasury qualifications are more important than ever, with the AM CT an essential requirement for almost all roles at treasury manager level and above. The Advanced Diploma (formerly the MCT) is a great way to set yourself apart at the more senior level. Holding this qualification can make a material difference when applying for top-tier senior roles. Both qualifications help treasurers to refine their technical skill set and ensure a solid understanding of best practice and differing approaches to practical treasury issues. 

As the role of the treasurer becomes increasingly strategic, so senior professionals are becoming more involved with the senior finance team. We are seeing group treasurers moving into the CFO role with more frequency. As a result, it is increasingly popular for treasurers to be dual-qualified as accountants. This not only allows the possibility of stepping up into a broader finance leadership role in the future, but enables treasurers to see and discuss issues with other finance professionals around the top table.

For more advice on progressing your treasury career, contact Rachael Crocker.