The Treasury Recruitment Market: What’s the Situation During COVID-19 Lockdown?

Before you dive in…

Just a quick note before you get started…

We know this post is a long one, but that’s because we’ve got some exciting news and updates for you, and there’s a tonne of valuable content headed your way. So, if you’re here, please stick with us until the end and learn more about what we’ll 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’.

Introduction

Hello, treasury professionals, we’re back!

Well, we haven’t really been away (after all, where would we go in this locked-down world?) but we haven’t been as active online as we usually are.

Over the past few weeks since lockdown begun, 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’s something they feel would add value to their audience. This might seem harsh, particularly to the 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. 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, 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 on a daily basis, the first of which is:

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

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted initially to answer that with something similar to “Roles? Of course not! Look out the window, can’t you see everything is closed?!”

But as well as being unfair, I’m delighted to say that answer is also wrong, because, that’s right…we are officially busy!

The follow up questions I’m being asked, include:

  • What impact do you think current events will have on the treasury recruitment market and your business, The Treasury Recruitment Company?
  • 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 does have some resilience in this new world order.

Firstly, we are a global recruiter. This was a planned business strategy from the outset here at the Treasury Recruitment Company.

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 across to the West Coast and right the way around.

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

As we pass the five-week mark during what has been a very challenging time for the business, I am also often being asked:

“Have you faced anything like this before and, if so, how are you as a recruiter trying to handle the situation this time?”

My answer is, ‘Yes’. I have faced similar situations probably three times now…

September 11 Attacks – 2001

The first time for me, on a personal basis, because it was before I even established the company, was following the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the two years that followed. After the atrocity, I found both the business world and the world of treasury recruitment struggled terribly to recover.

But once it had happened, we adapted, we took action, and the global financial markets of the world rebuilt. It was a shock to every system and a terrible event, but in terms of global economies, everything eventually recovered.

Global Financial Crisis – 2007-08

We were established as a treasury recruitment company in 2002, so by the time the global financial crisis hit in 2007, we had been going for six years and we were really starting to grow as a company with 10 members of staff at the time.

As the markets fell, it became tougher and tougher to recruit. It seemed that every input from the government was put in place, but still there was no end in sight. No recovery seemed to be coming.

Normal levels of activity did not really return until circa 2011, and we just had to sit and wait. And wait some more. It was horrible.

A decade since then and people have asked me “would you do the same again?”.

I respond, “Do you know what? After that experience, I might not.”

That was the first real depression I had lived through whilst working and running my own company. It was so tough for so many years.

But we kept on going. And who knew what was still to come?

Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic – 2020

Anyway, here we are now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. And this is different.

Although it’s a natural phenomenon, not the result of terrorist actions or global economics, it is something that we can deal with and which we are dealing with.

Currently, there is a lot of chat going around about a recession, and you must plan for it and deal with it.

Yes, it’s depressing. You realize you have to cut your cloth and survive. And I keep hearing from one particular recruiter I know and whom I respect a lot, who says he believes the implications of this situation will continue to hit him for the next two years in his niche market.

Really? To be honest, if I thought this would last for another two years, I would probably get another role myself, or I would certainly look to try and diversify into other areas and quickly into other disciplines.

I cannot see that happening. Not another two years.

When the lockdown hit us at the end of March 2020, I thought that the following would happen.

Please note some of it I have been wrong about – thankfully! – in terms of both activity and client demand, but these are some of the projected timelines I thought might be in place.

My Projected Crisis Timeline

Monday 2nd March 2020

The virus is slowly spreading from the Far East towards Europe.

My speaking gigs for the Nordics in March have been postponed or cancelled to after August. The ones in Texas and Chicago have been postponed and cancelled until September and beyond.

UK, European and Middle East roles are still being recruited, but we are becoming aware of the need to accelerate processes or run the risk of clients, candidates and us as a firm missing out on placements.

Monday 23rd March 2020

The UK is in lockdown. Pubs and restaurants are closed.

UK treasury vacancies are slowing – either being put on hold or postponed.

European treasury roles are still moving along, many of our European clients seem to do the first couple of rounds of interviews on Skype anyway, without the need for face-to-face interviews, so processes are more or less carrying on as normal.

Middle East processes – Recruitment campaigns are continuing especially as the level of the roles we are recruiting mean that the campaigns to recruit candidates will take at least 2 months plus the 3 month notice periods so clients have said that by the time candidates are ready to start i.e. in September 2020 they expect restrictions to have all but ended.

So they are simply carrying on recruiting…

Monday 20th April 2020

UK market – okay, so I was wrong. The UK did not totally stop.

  • 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 in four to eight weeks’ time. In other words, they will do their four-week notice period with their current company, then they will do a one-month onboarding process remotely, and then they will move to London to join the team properly. Congratulations! You know who you are!
  • An interim Treasury Manager was recently converted to a permanent role as the company decided they could not afford to live without them.
  • We have been instructed on a 6 to 12-month Treasury Manager maternity role by a client in the west end of London, apparently because the twins the current Treasury Manager is expecting in June have decided they will not wait!
  • There have been three new roles instructed by one of my clients in the Northern Home Counties following a mini reshuffle of the department, creating roles of Treasury Analyst, Treasury Manager through to Treasury Controller. As they said, given the time it takes to recruit (four to six weeks) then with the prospective notice period of at least one to maybe three months’ notice for the manager and the controller roles, if the kick-off process is now, they can be fully functioning by the summer. They would rather have the three new members of staff in place and up and running as soon as possible, rather than wait till the end of lockdown and then start the process from scratch.

Europe: Whether it’s because the virus spread at different rates across the continent with different countries locking down at different times, or maybe we’re lucky because given the critical nature of treasury, roles keep being hired and it seems that maybe 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 Belgian equivalent may only have three to four. So sometimes if someone leaves a UK group and say one person left a UK group of six and another person goes on maternity leave, you’ve gone six to four, and you can spread the work around from your group of six to four. Whereas in a team of three, one person leaves, one person goes on maternity, you are suddenly left as the only treasury professional and you must recruit.

As an example, Katie has carried on recruiting in Germany, France and we’ve just been instructed on a new role that one of our Belgian clients has been unsuccessfully trying to recruit for themselves for a couple of months. But now he’s come to his senses and he’s going to use us.

USA: It was perhaps more by luck than 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: Well, the major campaign we are recruiting in Saudi Arabia marches onward at the most senior level, and we have got some senior manager roles which are really exciting too, keeping us very busy.

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

Looking Ahead

So, what are our future predictions?

My original thoughts were possibly a full lockdown until September.

In fact, what we’ve seen is a semi-lockdown for March and April, with and obvious slow-down in activity, but now already we are seeing a gradual reopening of roles and activity as May and June approach.

We think we will see a fully working environment resuming in July and August with some COVID measures possibly still in place i.e. social distancing and school restrictions.

But this will be July and August anyway so these are the quietest two months of the business year, most of Europe closes and / or people use up their yearly holiday allowance anyway.

I think we might have reduced levels of activity until September kicks off and then, for the rest of 2020, I can see treasury professionals being in huge demand, especially relative to other finance professionals.

Because when there are crises or challenging circumstances and the CFO needs someone to help them chart the course for the company through uncertain and unpredictable waters, 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.

Okay, so we are still in lockdown and there is a gradual return for the next four to eight weeks.

What should you be doing as treasurers to prepare for this gradual reopening of the markets?

Don’t worry. This is where we come in.

We were due to launch our latest set of video advice tutorials, specifically targeting our clients to explain to them how they should be recruiting in 2020 and focusing on the candidate attraction experience and the techniques they should be using, and helping coach them in regards how to source you guys and candidates and the best way to treat you.

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

Introducing our Bounce Back Program

We have created a six-week “Bounce Back” candidate coaching program aimed at helping treasury professionals to:

  • Assess their current skillsets
  • Define their career aims, goals and target compensation packages
  • Improve their CVs / resumés
  • Develop their social media profiles – specifically LinkedIn
  • Brush up on their interview skills and create their own job search strategies

This program is designed to help you increase your attractiveness to potential employers as we help you prepare for the full reopening of the treasury recruitment market in July, September or… whenever it eventually happens!

Our aim is to get you ‘match fit’ over the next six weeks, ready to bounce into the 2020 job market with an advantage over the other candidates who don’t take part in this program!

Each week, we are going to set you some goals and individual challenges.

We are going to support you with video content, both from existing sources and some brand-new videos we’ll be recording especially for the program.

We will host a regular weekly Zoom assessment webinar, during which we will talk through the challenges we have set and how you found them and how you have reacted. We will celebrate some of the wins, and then set next week’s challenge.

So, from now through to June, we want to be able to give you the tools you need to help you make your next treasury career move a successful one.

Please join me and the team on the next part of your treasury career journey and just sign up for the program.

JOIN THE COACHING PROGRAM TODAY

We know you will love it. Oh, and did we mention… it’s free!

I look forward to you joining us on the next stage of your treasury career journey.

2020-05-10T12:47:02+00:00April 22nd, 2020|