Treasury is a constantly evolving profession, as the ACT’s current Business of Treasury research shows, with treasurers’ strategic engagement with their organisations increasing. One area where I have seen this happening is with treasurers’ involvement with their organisation’s Shared Service Centre (SSC).
Shared Service Centres – why the interest?
Evidence came from two key sources. Firstly, an increased number of requests to provide learning support for treasury teams within SSCs and secondly, discussions with treasurers who were being asked to take responsibility for the treasury aspects of the SSC teams. As this increased, the ACT felt that it would be useful to investigate treasury trends within SSCs through a structured piece of research.
A survey was developed focussing on several different aspects of SSCs: whether SSCs were used for treasury activities; more involved questions about the treasury tasks undertaken; the ease of recruitment and retention and attitudes to learning and development.
Over 200 people responded to the survey, predominantly from treasurers located in the UK, but also an encouraging number from treasurers globally.
What we found
The first conclusions we drew from the research was that SSCs were widely used by organisations and that treasury activities were present within most of those SSCs.
An interesting aspect of the results was that most SSCs (over 60%) were in either the UK or the rest of Europe, which suggests that the issue of nearshoring, i.e. moving SSCs closer to operational HQs, may be an occurring. There was potentially some additional evidence of this, with all the SSCs located in Germany belonging to organisations based in Germany.
While the results were being collated, a session at the ACT’s European Conference in Düsseldorf took place, highlighting the growing use of automation in treasury and potentially a subsequent reduction in team sizes in SSCs due to that automation. The survey confirmed the potential for this, showing that several of the treasury activities undertaken in SSCs were back office tasks such as reconciliation and payment processing and, as such, likely candidates for automation. If automation is likely to create smaller teams, costing less to locate, it could accelerate the pace of nearshoring.
Recruitment and retention
Issues with recruitment and retention were responsible for the initiation of the research and it was interesting that the initial results from the questionnaire didn’t match the earlier anecdotal evidence, with 63% of organisations finding recruitment as easy for their SSC as it is for their core treasury team. However, there was a noticeable change when prior treasury experience was required, with the level of difficulty in recruitment increasing, with only 50% finding ease of recruitment at the same level as the core team.
The other interesting correlation was between the perception of retention and the level of training provided. Most organisations that felt the level of retention within the SSC treasury team was lower than their core team provided less training for that team than the core team.
Conversely, most organisations with perceived good retention for their SSC teams provided either the same or higher levels of training than for the core team. There was an additional correlation between the type of training provided and the level of retention, with an increase in the use of ACT qualifications and in-house programmes for organisations with the perception of good retention.
My own takeaway, from collating the results and developing the report, is that SSCs are an important aspect of treasury operations in many organisations and the activities within the SSCs potentially mirror the move in treasury more generally from operational to strategic, especially with the continual development of automation. If this is the case, there will be an increased demand for qualified and motivated treasury teams within SSCs.
A copy of the ACT Shared Service Centre report can be downloaded here.
If you have a Shared Service Centre and would like more information on the development of your team, the ACT has a full range of resources including introductory eLearning, in-house training and a wide range of qualifications suitable for your team.
Would you like to have a chat about what we can do for you?
Drop me a line at +44 (0)20 7847 2531 or email firstname.lastname@example.org any time.
David Coulson, Employer Relations Manager, ACT