Your career is in your hands. You are responsible for developing yourself and taking advantage of the opportunities available throughout your career journey. But there are some skills and characteristics that can help you on your way, and these were the topic of discussion at the Future Leaders careers evening on 20 June.
Some key themes came out when senior treasurers were asked about what they look for when they recruit.
- For a treasury analyst role, they look for those with a technical expertise and for someone who can juggle different projects and priorities.
- For a treasury manager position, you would need to add communication skills to your skills-set.
- Treasurers need to translate the technical aspects of their role to make it real for the rest of the business.
- It’s important that the whole company understands how treasury fits in with the wider company objectives.
In addition, resilience is a key trait. Treasury teams can go through tough times and showing that you can deal with this, and remain positive, is a key strength. Two of the panel specifically ask questions at interviews to assess resilience.
How do you make yourself stand out?
It depends whether you are looking for an internal or external role. In a lot of ways looking internally is easier – you can talk to your manager, influence what goes on your objectives, ask questions about your performance and what you need to do to progress. Start these conversations early (don’t just wait for your annual appraisal) and put your hand up and help – especially with cross-departmental projects as these can really raise your profile. If you are looking externally, look at your CV and check and double-check your spelling! For all new roles individuals with breadth and enthusiasm are in high demand. As a candidate, be aware of your skill set. Be honest with yourself. You can develop if you are aware of your shortcomings and people with the ability to learn will always stand out.
We can sometimes be worried about job titles and showing progression in this way. But you should think of your career in terms of learning and not just job title progression. Keep learning, and keep wanting to learn. When you ask for more work/new projects your boss hears ‘I want to progress’. You can manage your relationship with your manager – book time in their diaries and talk to them about your expectations. Don’t be afraid to ask what do I need to do next and how will that be rewarded. Managers don’t want to lose high performers in their team.
Treasury has evolved substantially over the last 5-10 years. The panel was asked where they see treasury going in the next 5-10 years?
Different companies will need different skill sets – and will evolve differently. So, it could be that other areas are absorbed in to the treasury area, such as working capital management, pensions and tax. Automation was also a key theme: the treasury role will develop ever more as a business partner – the key function will be to understand risks within the business. The basics however, will stay the same. The risks will always be there so treasurers will still need to make decisions and judgement calls. These things would be difficult to automate and therefore the treasury role will remain critical to the business.
Other areas of discussion looked at career change – how easy is it to move in to treasury (or out of treasury). The consensus was that it is relatively easy at the junior level but that as you specialise it will be more difficult. One way to do this is to take a contract role so that you can build your network and show your transferrable skills.
And finally, in terms of recruitment it has been a positive year for those working in treasury. Despite the uncertainty immediately following the Brexit vote, there is now a lot of movement. Compared to six-months ago, Michael Page has seen vacancies at the Treasury Analyst role level increase 300 times. There are several reasons for this including more confidence in the economy and increased diversification in treasury skills sets which has led to more accountability and broader projects coming into the treasury function. Key trends include new TMS projects and the centralisation of treasury functions – a reversal of the recent trends to decentralise. While treasury has for a long time been regarded as aligned with the finance department, it is now very much seen as its own function.
Your treasury toolkit gives you several options if you would like to move to a new role – a sideways move in to IT, risk, tax, corporate finance and M&A are all very viable moves.
Treasury is becoming more of a strategic function, treasurers are being given seats in the boardroom. The group treasurer role can vary greatly from company to company which is a sign that the skills you develop are transferrable. Those who are most successful develop their behavioural, business and technical skills – the right mindset, being seen as a problem solver and a diplomat are all in demand. There is no better time to be in treasury!
I would like to thank the speakers, Courtney Huggins, Tim Allison, Joanna Bonnett, Paul Wilde and Jessica Timelin for their honest and insightful comments and Michael Page for hosting the event. For information on the Future Leaders group please visit to www.treasurers.org/futureleaders