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What does a Treasury Manager actually do? – Q&A

Hussam Ali and Guillaume Jouvencel from Corporate Treasury 101 Podcast recently interviewed me as part of their 4-episode feature series where we explore the different levels of Treasury.

We’ve dug out a few key talking points around the Treasury Manager role where we discuss what a treasury manager actually does, what makes a great Treasury Manager, how to achieve success as a manager and the challenges of the role.

You can hear the full episode by heading to our Treasury Podcast, The Treasury Career Corner, and pressing the play button!

What does a Treasury Manager actually do?

Mike Richards:

Within treasury, you have 3 main functions – front, middle and back office.

As a Treasury Manager you may be overseeing all of those areas.

A Treasury Manager a lot of the time will also have people management responsibilities as well. So, you might be mentoring or managing the Treasury Assistant. You might have an Analyst or Dealer or two or three or more, so you become much more of a people manager.

We would expect great managers or good managers to enable the company’s strategy, but how does a Treasury Manager go about doing that?

Mike Richards:

Start with the end in mind.

I was doing a session with the New York Cash Exchange recently and someone said, “how as a new Treasurer to a company can I achieve success?”

One of the bits of feedback was money. It wasn’t about them saving money. It was about them being the custodian for cash and looking at the risk. You’re not necessarily helping the company make money, but in treasury you’re a support function in many ways. If you are the custodian for cash, you can be seen as the safe haven in tricky and risky times, and you can point to that very successfully.

This was from three amazing Treasurers, and they said “that’s what you need to look after. Look after the company’s cash as if it’s your own.”

A lot of people in the support functions don’t look at the greater good. The more that you have that big picture, the better.

If you want to achieve best in class in treasury, how do you assess as a Treasury Manager what you will need in order to deliver that?

Mike Richards:

It’s all about spinning plates.

When I was at a recent conference, I looked around the room and there were talks on various tables discussing liquidity planning, capital management, technology etc.

If you’re a really good Treasury Manager, you would have knowledge and be able to contribute in every one of those six or eight tables. The thing was, there was a table missing, which was a talent/recruitment table.

In all aspects of treasury, even when a system or process is automated, there is a person there. So, the people aspect is underestimated. Remote working in Treasury is far more popular since the pandemic, so how does a Treasury Manager organise his team effectively?

The best Treasury Managers might not be foreign exchange experts. They might not be IT savvy, but if they can manage a team of really great people effectively, then that’s essential.

We’ve talked about what makes a great manager and what people’s skills you need, but what are the main challenges you face when you are a Treasury Manager?

Mike Richards:

The breadth of the role is one of the things but also what is expected of you and whether you have the resources to deliver it. That can be both a people resource and a cash resource or commitment from senior management.

You are asked to deliver all these results. You’re right in the middle of things. You’ve got pressure from below, pressure from above, pressure from the sides – all these different things which can make for an incredibly stressful role.

You’ve got external business partners, then you’ve got internal business partners and then you might have someone within the business coming to you saying, “we need you to do need this, can you deliver it?

“Whoa. That’s not my job.”

“But I can’t talk to the Treasurer, they’re too busy. The Analyst is doing this already so can you do this?”

I think spinning all those plates is really hard.

So, what makes a successful Treasury Manager? It’s an ability to change, but not only that, to embrace the change as well.

People talk about automation and are treasurers going to be replaced by robots?

They’re not necessarily, but the fact is that the skillset of treasury teams is rising and if you can’t get grasp what’s necessary, then get out of treasury.

You don’t have to be an IT tech specialist, but you need to be able to translate the word of treasury into an understandable format for your programmers and data scientists. And that is the responsibility really of the Treasurer and Assistant or International Treasurer, but a lot of time it becomes the Treasury Manager’s responsibility, too. That’s what you start to get involved in. And there’s a lot of people management, again, as you move up the pyramid.

9th Sep 22

#223: Feature Series: What I have seen in Great Treasury Managers

with Mike Richards