The Treasury Career Path
In this space, organisations seek competent candidates with the ability to acquire the funds needed to operate and progress the business. Treasury is a part of the larger finance picture, which manages the company’s ingoing and outgoing funds and cash. They also place investments in the most efficient and effective way for the highest returns.
This has raised the profile of treasurers who are more involved in fundraising via institutional avenues such as banks or private equity companies, as well as private investors. Hence, treasury roles are only seen in the large global conglomerates due to the sheer amount of funds and investment projects required. A majority of treasury training stems from an accounting background and qualification from the UK’s Association of Corporate Treasurers (ACT).
Chance not Choice
Due to the highly specialised nature of the job and technical skills required, candidates typically enter the treasury profession by chance instead of choice. Many are not aware of it as a career path as this strategic function primarily sits within a finance department in the corporate headquarters. Treasury teams are typically very streamlined and consist of only a handful of professionals. Hence, there are limited opportunities for new or existing treasury specialists.
The largest challenge with career progression in treasury is purely the specialised nature of the job which generally drives professionals to other parts of accounting and finance in pursuit of a broader portfolio. The traditional career path starts in accounting before moving into treasury. Nonetheless, the treasury experience gained is a highly marketable and valuable asset in a professional’s background.
In most cases, companies are seen replacing treasury professionals instead of expanding the team. Due to the fact that the candidate pool for this niche area of work is extremely limited, professionals can command premium salaries. Treasurers with solid experience are typically well-paid and can secure a higher base than regular accountants.
To attract these highly-skilled candidates to treasury, companies can implement rotation programmes within the finance function which would expose professionals to treasury, accounting and finance. This is also likely to create a higher volume of finance candidates with treasury experience which will in turn drive more interest in the career.
Typically treasurers seek broadened experience in their area of work which would include opportunities in different geographical regions. This is because every country works in local currencies and different regulations. Across industries, however, the treasury function is fairly similar as ultimately the role is about cash flow and fund management.
Depending on their appetite for risk, treasury professionals are inclined towards either cash flow-positive employers or conversely, debt-focussed businesses. The areas of work which would interest them include raising funds to improve the company’s infrastructure and expand markets. Treasurers also have the opportunity to strengthen their soft skills due to their close relationships with the chief financial office. Their strong involvement with the company’s cash flow puts them in a business critical position where decisions have to be explained to the board of directors and colleagues outside of the finance function. Managing these relationships will be an additional source of fulfilment for treasury professionals apart from the traditional finance scope.