Treasurer Profile and Evolution
What profile for the treasurer of tomorrow and how will the function evolve in the years to come, do you already ask yourself this question of what your job will become in the future?
Interview with François Masquelier, President of ATEL
(1) What is today and will be tomorrow the ideal treasurer’s profile? What is expected of treasurers? Evolution of the qualities necessary and required to succeed his/her career in treasury in future?
We all ask ourselves this question: what will we be tomorrow? What will be our job and will we always do the same thing in the same way? The answer is obviously NO. However, when and how will it change is a more delicate question. It seems to me that the general profile of the treasurer of tomorrow will be more complete, more general and more diversified. It will also be more "computer" and IT driven, given the growing weight of technology in our business. On the aspect of "hard skills", it will undoubtedly be higher and will require more technical expertise in different areas. On the plan, soft skills, it will have to be much more creative and proactive, things that it is not today.
It's not only his/her technical abilities but also his/her "soft skills" that they will have to develop. He/she will be even more of a kind of strong man/woman of finance. On this last point, he/she should be, to succeed, bolder, more pioneering and more inspired to adapt to his/her changing environment. Agility, as for all, will be a major asset. The treasurer of the future will manage projects, participate in cross-functions/cross finance department’s projects, become more involved in the integration of acquisitions (i.e. M&A activities) and have curiosity for new technologies and solutions. He/she should let go of his/her "conservative" side. The new "millennial" generation that is coming in will help the treasurer or push him/her there, in order to evolve.
The (greater) openness of mind will be necessary and the faculty to accept change(s). The capacity to conceptualize things and to have a vision of their evolution is lacking in many of our colleagues. Let's dare to be pioneers and change our approach. This is where the greatest difficulty lies for any treasurer.
(2) Recruitment of treasurers? What are the new risks that emerge?
Recruitment has always been difficult. Today even more with the changes of the world in which we live. Recruitment has already changed a lot over the last years. LinkedIn has been there with Monster, or other IT tools or social networks. The role of the head hunters becomes different and the treasurer also is facing the transformation of the profession. The risk, as for any profession faced with the challenge of digitization and the Uberisation of the economy is to remain useful and necessary. We must make ourselves indispensable and not wait for things to change. One certainty today is that everything is uncertain, more complex, more volatile and especially that everything is accelerating. The new risks have emerged, making the profession always exciting and sexy. These changes, let's see them positively, make it possible to avoid long-term routine. The profession has evolved more than all the other professions in finance, undoubtedly.
It will be necessary to look at these new IT technologies that will break with our past such as robotics, artificial intelligence, block chains, analysis of tons of data available, complex algorithms that everyone can do now more easily with the help of the machine, virtualization of certain treasury concepts and techniques, etc ...
Is not this the point of interest? Knowing that the profession will change is a source of motivation and not of fear. And who could claim the treasury job will not change in 3 or 5 years? Nobody obviously. The only downside is that things will surely go slower than some predict. Younger, I thought cars would fly in the year 2000. It will be more likely in 2020, I guess. Science is accelerating but the vision of what will be the future is faster than the reality of it. It is psychologically that we must be prepared for further change to get rid of our natural reluctance and aversion to what would be different.
(3) “Treasurer one day, treasurer always”, is it a true statement? How to stay "employable"? Is passion a driving force and motivation for choosing a treasurer career? Is the profession lacking in attractiveness?
"Treasurer one day treasurer always" seems to me a good slogan as the profession is sexy and attractive. In a world where hyper-specialization is the norm and more and more early (in your career) you are rapidly labeled "treasurer" and therefore “specialist”. Our world is a specialist world. Hyper-specialization will go even further. We will even have some treasurers more specialized in certain industrial or commercial activities, for example.
Passion is the sacred fire necessary. But the cash is a drug (sweet) but strong despite everything and addictive. I fell in being small. That's the result...
How to remain “employable” is a real challenge that must be addressed and dared to face. If treasurers remain immobile they will become obsolete in the long run or less essential to the organization.
The function remains attractive and its strong evolution compared to Controlling, Consolidation, M&A, gives it this attractive and addictive character. The function will not lose in seduction, in coming years. Conversely, it will in my view become even sexier and interesting.
Challenging him/her self, isn’t it healthy? YES indeed. The function will still evolve but will remain essential and key in the financial organization. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robots will come at a slower pace than we think but will make it possible to modify the role without making it useless, as long as the treasurer remains more than a performer. Treasurers must make their evolved role absolutely essential.
The absence of international standards (e.g. KYC’s, e-payment methods, etc…) and regulatory difficulties make the ideal world of automation and centralization to the extreme (unfortunately) not for tomorrow. This is not a reason for "baby boomer" treasurers to fall asleep on their laurels.
The treasurer, like any recruiter, must attract good and promising profiles. It is not easy. It is therefore necessary to demonstrate the interest of coming to work in the company and selling the job to the candidate. This part of the job interviews becomes essential. It's up to us to present the treasury function as interesting and to attract new talents.
I would not like to finish without mentioning the important role that the Treasurers' Associations (e.g. ATEL, EACT, etc… ) must play in their role and participate in this evolution: first to survive and justify their “raison d'être”, but also to help keep their members employable and to give them the means for their evolution. They must rethink their approach in order to deliver training, information, services, etc ... that will enable treasurers to remain as employable as possible and therefore unavoidable. The treasurer must evolve with technology and free himself/herself from the tasks that the machines will do better than him/her. Its true value is in the analysis and even more in the strategy. For this, we must accept to take on board the technology, automate, secure and therefore invest time and money, afterwards bring all its strength of analysis and recommendations to management. It will have to correlate more the management of the different risks and to give more technical means to decide more pertinently. Examples of algorithms and other big data analyzes will no doubt improve the management of forecasts, the correlation of risks and forecasts or the management of foreign currencies risk. Let us not oppose what science offers us.
To conclude, I would say that passion remains the driving force in professional life and luckily the cash function in its evolution offers and will offer this element. Treasurer remains and will remain a specific, unique and attractive function. The fact that the treasury function is still relatively unknown to the general public can penalize attraction. It is our duty to promote this exceptional and specific function to attract the deserved and necessary talents to be face future challenges.
François Masquelier, Chairman of ATEL