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By Timothy Woods

3 Essential Skills Of The Modern-Day Treasurer. Do You Have Them?

Published August 19, 2014

If you are a corporate treasurer reading this, you’ve probably helped steer your company through the difficulties of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) and its aftermath, and never want to hear the words “sovereign” “debt” and “crisis” in the same sentence again. As a key part of any corporate finance department, your role as treasurer has probably largely been affected by the changes and new responsibilities thrust upon your boss, the Chief Financial Officer (FD/Financial Director) and the finance department as a whole since the GFC. Sound about right?

What are some of the key hallmarks of a good treasurer? An eye for detail, an organised approach and a flair with numbers are key but that has always been the case. What else? What do you need in order to be a cut above in the modern post-economic downturn corporate landscape? At Kantox, we have written this article to answer these very questions, with some insights from prominent corporate treasurers. By the end of the article we hope you will have a better understanding of what changes may be necessary for the modern treasurer role, and we also aim to spark discussion and reflection on how you can add even more value to your organisation as a whole.

Enhanced risk management skills

A good treasurer is an effective manager of risk, of course. Where do these risks come from? Traditionally, they involve liquidity challenges, exchange rate fluctuations, and operational risk, among others. In 2014 these already considerable risks are exacerbated by a whole new glut of perils facing corporations in the post-GFC world, and you, the treasurer. You have to keep your company liquid while banks’ focus on investment is geared more toward government bonds rather than granting financing to SMEs and corporates. A new wave of financial regulation, implemented by the G20 and European Union is forcing companies to dedicate increasing resources to regulatory compliance and implementation. Have you had to contend with these new challenges?

The world is ever-more globalised, with competition much more than a national or continental matter, but rather global. Moreover, the risk of another financial crisis will always be there, lingering. The financial system is so interconnected that now if a bank in the United States goes bust, its domino effect could mean that an SME in the UK, Germany, Slovenia or Sweden could face a threat to its survival. This is a very real worry for companies and their treasury departments, and it is something that treasurers must plan for as part of their risk management strategy.

Additionally, the changing in technology are now pivotal to companies, and can mean the difference between being ahead or behind of the competition. Treasurers must keep up with how technology can improve their work and their company. Advances in mobile technology, e-service and treasury management systems must be scrutinised by treasury departments to remain competitive.

Technological advancements are also rising in the form of the fintech sector, which offers companies alternatives to the financial services offered by the established banking sector. Indeed, the finance sector is increasingly influenced by the advances made in fintech.

To handle the new challenges facing you, a new approach is necessary for your company’s best interests and for your own. Look to the fintech sector, which is shaping change in the finance sector, plan ahead and invest the time necessary to carry out comprehensive research in every point of risk that your company is exposed to, and crucially, keep your ear to the ground now as changes to finance and your business are coming thicker and faster than before.

Communication skills

Managing risk across the board requires consultation with specialists including solicitors, tax consultants and external compliance officers. For successful mitigation strategies, effective interpersonal skills are hugely important; more so than ever. This may also include the need to be strong in other languages. For companies conducting business internationally strong English is a prerequisite and of course, being able to communicate in the language of international partners is particularly valuable.

Furthermore, as finance departments have evolved in scope and remit within companies, as the corporate treasurer, as a key member of your department, you are required to communicate well with figureheads across the entire company hierarchy. Like the CFO, you are also now widely expected to form a strategic role within the company, often sitting in on executive meetings regarding the direction of the company. You must therefore be able to manage relations well and communicate capably and thoroughly.

Staying informed

The modern corporate landscape faces an unprecedented number of challenges for any business. Keeping up to date with developments in technology, finance (fintech and changes to the established banking sector), regulation, governmental decisions and your own business’s sector is crucial. Knowledge is power and you must stay ahead of the curve to optimise your value to your boss and company. Knowing how to implement SEPA smoothly, for instance, or readying your department for new regulatory measures (such as EMIR) will contribute greatly to its optimal functioning.

There are of course a multitude of challenges facing your role as a modern-day corporate treasurer. We have looked at three areas which we feel are of critical importance to your success and that of your company. As “the only constant in business is change”, your role will likely evolve certainly evolve further and present you with new challenges. The question is, are you prepared.


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