GUARDING THE PURSE STRINGS
- why treasury could be the career for you.
CORPORATE TREASURY IS A YOUNG PROFESSION THAT ALLOWS YOU TO BUILD ON YOUR FINANCE SKILLS AND IS DEVELOPING A NAME FOR ITSELF AS THE FUN SIDE OF FINANCE.
A treasury career means you will be involved in ensuring that your company always has the necessary cash available for it to run its business successfully, while managing its financial risks and funding structure. Treasury has strong links with business strategy, how this strategy will affect the flow of funds, and how it adds shareholder value. Treasury encourages you to be forward thinking and to influence your organisation’s future strategy. Your day will be varied and challenging and will allow you to extend your skills in disciplines such as analysis, problem-solving, persuasion, negotiation and leadership, adding value to your role. You will maintain relationships with shareholders, banks, other investors and ratings agencies, and you will almost certainly be dealing with sums of money running into the millions, even billions.
Finance professionals are drawn towards treasury because of its focus on the future, its variety, and its career prospects. Ian Chisholm, Group Treasury Operations Manager of Shell International Ltd explains: ‘Treasury stands at the financial heart of a company, managing its cash and risks, with an external perspective on the global financial markets and the world economy. As a treasurer it’s often much easier to see the results of your actions than with some other finance roles. The benefits of a career in treasury are the deep professional skills that you gain and the great variety of experiences that it gives you, which allow you to progress in a variety of ways – whether it’s specialising in a particular area of treasury, or broadening your horizons to financial or even general business management’.
A treasury career is attractive because the parameters of this profession are still developing. The treasurer is often free from the rigid perceptions associated with more established corporate roles such as lawyer or accountant, and has scope to develop their own brief according to the strategic aims of an organisation.
The treasury function is vital in all business sectors, including banks, small to medium-sized companies, global companies, and even non-profit organisations. Within smaller organisations the treasury function may lie with the finance director or even the accountant, while for larger companies department size is typically three to six people. Core treasury responsibilities include cash and liquidity management, capital markets and funding, corporate financial management, and risk management.
You are likely to begin your career investing cash, dealing with foreign exchange, or developing financial/risk models. You can expect a minimum starting salary of £25,000. However, qualified treasurers with experience can expect a salary of £100,000 plus with additional higher earning opportunities.
Entry into treasury can be achieved through a general finance graduate programme, requests for secondment to the treasury department, or by side-stepping through tax, financial control, legal or accounting functions. Direct entry may also be possible by approaching the treasurer directly. Continual professional development (CPD) – keeping up to date with global markets, attending professional training courses, and the completion of specialised, internationally recognised professional qualifications such as the Association of Corporate Treasurer’s AMCT Diploma in Treasury – is important to advance your knowledge, enhance your career prospects, and differentiate you from your peers. This is especially true of accountants who find that AMCT broadens their skill set and complements their accountancy base. For graduates who would like a more interactive role within finance James Lockyer, Education Technical Officer at the ACT with over 15 year’s treasury experience in industry, advises: ‘consider treasury as an alternative to an accountancy qualification; if you’re doing an accountancy qualification then make sure your training gives you exposure to treasury’. The treasury profession is not limited to finance, maths or business graduates – established treasurers include natural sciences, law, and engineering graduates.
Treasury experience makes you an important asset to your company and prepares you for future managerial roles. John Grout, Policy and Technical Director at the ACT, and former Finance Director of the global confectionery division of Cadbury Schweppes, says: ‘the great thing about treasury and corporate finance is that it includes both practical and operational and strategic/policy matters. The work is exciting, important and rewarding.’