The Outlook For Treasury Recruitment – Post COVID

Before you dive in…

Just a quick note before you get started…

We know this post is a long one, but that is because we have got some exciting news and updates for you, and there is a ton of valuable content headed your way. So, if you are here, please stick with us until the end and learn more about what we will be publishing over the next few weeks, because it’s all aimed at helping YOU with your treasury career!

Pressed for time? Skip straight to the bottom to the chapter titled ‘Introducing Our Bounce Back Program’.

This article has been updated.

Pressed for time? Scroll down to Bounce Back Candidate CoachingProgram.

I know this is a long article, but that’s because I’ve got some exciting news and updates for you, and there is a ton of valuable content headed your way. So, if you’re here, please stick with me until the end and learn more about the content The Treasury Recruitment Company will be publishing over the coming weeks. Clue: it’s all tailored towards helping you to have a successful career in treasury!

Lockdown: what’s been happening?

Since lockdown began, millions of additional people have become more active on social media channels, particularly LinkedIn. One of the unfortunate side-effects of this has been a deluge of crap content. People have been publishing content because they can, because they have the time, instead of because it is something they feel would add value to their audience. This might seem harsh, particularly to any new content creators out there, but it’s the truth.

So, we decided to sit back for a bit. To listen. To reflect. To reassess. The last thing we would ever want to do here at The Treasury Recruitment Company is add to the noise without thinking about value first and foremost. I hope that those of you reading this who already know us will know that we are hellbent on adding value to our audience of treasury professionals around the globe. If we don’t think a piece of content will add value to our audience in some way, we don’t publish it. Simple as that.

Now that we’re back from this period of listening and reflecting, here’s what we’re going to be doing: helping you however we can.

And to achieve that, I’m going to start by answering the questions I’m being asked daily, the first of which is:

“Mike are there any treasury roles out there at the moment?”

Nope, not really. The pandemic arrived just as we went into what is the quietest time of the year.

Whilst there is always treasury recruitment activity from April to July, Q2 usually just sees a steady flow of staff movement rather than any huge uptick in activity. It’s more about ‘recruit to replace’ when people rotate through roles rather than any increase in movement levels.

The two peaks in treasury recruitment activity throughout the year are the post-Christmas rush when candidates collect their yearly bonus and decide it’s time for a change of role. They actively seek out a new move, and some actually go as far as to follow it up with their letter of resignation.

Added to this, you sometimes see companies making ‘planned’ changes through succession planning / promotions following new year reviews. You also see companies reviewing their treasury teams, which results in movement within the treasury teams; often voluntary, but sometimes some involuntary / enforced changes of staff as well.

The second yearly peak is post-summer, which tends to be more candidate-led rather than coming from companies themselves. This is typically when human nature has kicked in over the summer, candidates reflect when they’re on the beach or by the pool and decide that they finally need to make a move. This is often after they’ve spent a certain number of years in a role or with a company, or they do it simply for their own self-development.

In recent years, activity levels have plateaued somewhat meaning it is slightly less crazy than it used to be, especially during Q4. It used to be the case that we would often do 50% of our yearly revenues between January to mid-July and 50% between September and mid-December. It was fun but it often meant you were completely exhausted come the new year!

But this year is different!

Imagine it is a typical year without COVID. It’s April 1st, your boss walks in and says:

Go home. You’re now working from home for the foreseeable future. Don’t come in to the office, don’t take public transport, you now work from home. Make sure that you have a nice place in your house to do Treasury Team and Board Meetings over Zoom so that nobody can see your washing up and dirty laundry. If you want to talk to me, FaceTime or Zoom me. All future progress reviews will also be via Zoom. We’ll hopefully see you in September or maybe even not until January 2021.”

Your response would likely be:

“Nice one boss! Good April Fools gag.”

Right? But what is happening now? Well, I’ve been told by lots of people that come September there’s likely to be a massive shift. Many Treasurers will be found wanting, they will have struggled and they will be sacked or changed out of their roles before the end of 2020.

Nonsense!

Trust me… Those who say that simply do not understand treasury recruitment.

If a treasury professional is found to be wanting or is sub-standard, is it their fault? Yes, it is. Do they need to improve/develop themselves to keep their jobs? Of course, they do. And they need to be coached and mentored. If they are still found to be ‘not-fit-for-purpose’, will they be marched out of the door? No, of course not!

The work still needs to be done. What happens is that a replacement will be sourced quietly in the background and they are moved out / aside, gently, and in a dignified manner (at least, most of the time).

If a Treasurer were found not to be not strong enough and they were frog-marched out of the door, unless they hired by the previous FD / CFO whose fault were they? Who hired them? Where does the finger point then? Exactly at the current management, companies work in a planned, discreet manner (most of the time at least!).

In this COVID lockdown world, with a huge reduction in face-to-face contact in the workplace, treasury professionals are being asked to manage staff remotely. What does that mean?

Pre-lockdown, I dedicated every Thursday to meeting both my clients and candidates to discuss their work lives, their career plans and generally being their treasury career coach. (And I plan on doing exactly the same after the summer break.)

During many of these sessions, we would end up focusing upon their managerial abilities or their lack thereof. Often, we would find ourselves talking about the availability of coaching for the technical areas of treasury and support for finance qualifications, the hard skills. But for the softer management skills and coaching on how to manage and mentor, I would hear it was only being offered about one in ten times. Yes, really. One in ten, if that.

If you are a management trainer who offers mentoring and coaching about how to manage and motivate remote treasury teams, start planning for a very busy end to 2020. I can only see you getting busier. Great news for you!

The other two questions I get asked frequently are:

“What impact do you think current events will have on the treasury recruitment market and on your business, The Treasury Recruitment Company?”

and

“What will you be doing to help your clients and candidates to ‘bounce back’ once this is all over?”

As a specialist treasury recruitment consultancy, fortunately, we have several factors we have built into our operating model which mean that our business has some resilience in this new world order.

Firstly, we are a global recruiter. This was a planned business strategy from the outset. We recruit roles on a global scale covering markets from the UK & Europe, the Middle and Far East, and the Americas, working from the East Coast to the West Coast and all the way around.

As treasury professionals, you will know that this offers us a natural hedging mechanism in terms of both currency and activity. If UK recruitment goes up, the USA may fall, but the Middle East rises. Each market counters the effect of the others.

When the lockdown hit us at the end of March 2020, my speaking gigs for Europe and the US were cancelled/converted to virtual events.

In the early days of lockdown, UK, European and Middle East roles were still being recruited, but we knew that we needed to accelerate processes or run the risk of clients, candidates and us as a firm missing out on placements. Vacancies that were at an earlier stage got cancelled/postponed, while those at later stages often completed.

The UK

  • We completed the hiring of a Treasury Manager for a client who has decided to onboard them remotely, with the aim of them joining physically post-COVID. They have now actually joined but are still working remotely and have yet to physically meet the full treasury team and make the move to London to join the team. Don’t worry – it will happen but who knows when?!
  • An interim Treasury Manager was converted to a permanent role as the company decided they could not afford to live without them.
  • We successfully recruited a Treasury Manager maternity role for a London-based client.

Europe

  • Whether it was because the virus spread at different rates across the continent with different countries locking down at different times, or because we’re lucky given the critical nature of treasury, roles in Europe kept being hired for and it seems that many European treasury teams are often smaller than those in the UK.
  • If a UK treasury team has four to six members of staff, their French equivalent may only have three to four. So, say one person left a UK group of six and another person goes on maternity leave, you’ve gone from six to four, and you can then spread the work around from your group of six to four. Whereas in a team of three, if one person leaves and one person goes on maternity, you are suddenly left as the only treasury professional and you simply must recruit.
  • As an example, Katie has carried on recruiting in France and Germany, and we’ve also recently been instructed on some new roles in France to help beef up the treasury operations team for one of our international clients.

The USA

  • It was perhaps more by luck than by judgment, but our latest three US recruitment campaigns seemed to finish all at the same time and had just been recruited as the virus leapfrogged across the Atlantic and took hold of the country. We believe that restrictions are in place now, but as they are slowly lifted on a state-by-state basis, we expect activity to return rapidly.

Rest of the world

  • The major campaign we are recruiting for in Saudi Arabia marches onward at the most senior level, and we also have some senior manager roles which are exciting too, keeping us very busy.

And there you have it. That has been a review of the current state of the treasury recruitment market and where we are up to!

Looking Ahead: what are our predictions?

My original thoughts were possibly a full lockdown until September. In fact, what we saw was a semi-lockdown for Q2 with continued activity, but, as we move into the official holiday season in July and August – no matter how disrupted they have been by the pandemic – people still need to use up their holiday allowance.

Recruitment plans have been paused. If someone is thinking of recruiting, either they or their CFO is about to head out the door for two to three weeks, meaning any recruitment process will be delayed until they can all be in the same place at the same time i.e. often not until the first week in September!

As September kicks off, and for the remainder of 2020, I see treasury professionals being in high demand, especially relative to other finance professionals. Because when there are crises or challenging circumstances as we have faced in recent times, the CFO needs someone to help them chart the course for the company through uncertain and unpredictable waters. So they seek out you – their treasurer. Trust me when I say that in times like these, treasurers are the people CFOs want by their side.

So, what should you be doing as treasury professionals to prepare for the gradual reopening of the treasury recruitment market?

Well, this is where The Treasury Recruitment Company comes in.

At the beginning of April 2020, we were due to launch our latest set of video advice tutorials. These were going to target our clients to explain to them how they should be recruiting in 2020. They would focus on the candidate attraction experience and the techniques they should be using, helping to coach them in regards how to source candidates and the best way to treat them, etc.

Then the world changed. So, we had to change with it…

2020-08-20T08:36:25+00:00April 22nd, 2020|