Recruitment and people management, including nurturing employee wellbeing, were among the key human resources (HR) challenges corporate treasury had to face in 2022.
2023 is expected to be another year of workforce challenges for treasury. The Association of Corporate Treasurers’ (ACT) Business of Treasury 2022 report stated that between 2021 and 2022 it became more difficult to recruit and retain treasury staff.
This is likely to intensify this year, even as corporate treasury continues to remain concerned about getting the right talent to the right roles, training them adequately and managing them in a virtual environment.
In these uncertain times, there is enormous churn in the treasury job market. As a matter of fact, “Over half of the FTSE20 non-financial corporates have seen a change of group treasurer in the past 18 months”, as per the Business of Treasury 2022 report.
There is also an increasing shortage of treasurers, which is becoming a critical challenge for organizations worldwide as they try to find a suitable treasurer. “Finding the right people for the job is hard, although they must be out there,” says the report Hidden Gems: The Subtle Art of Finding Your Next Treasurer by Cobase.
The report interviewed the world’s leading treasury recruitment experts as well as a few treasurers to “Highlight the challenges and opportunities for both commercial and not-for-profit organisations regarding treasury recruitment” that can be leveraged to help companies find the right treasurer.
Attract the right candidate in a highly competitive job market
The Cobase report points out that “There is more to finding a treasurer than just putting the information out there. You must make the job and your organisation as attractive as possible to find a highly talented treasurer.” How is this done?
To start with, the organisation’s recruiting efforts must be focused on its candidate’s needs. “Finding treasurers is not about you anymore; it is about them. Meaning that your (organisation’s) search for treasurers needs to be aimed at the candidate’s needs, not just on your own”, observes Mike Richards, founder and CEO of The Treasury Recruitment Company (focused on the UK, Europe and the US).
The second pertinent aspect to bear in mind is that while candidate-centric recruiting is important, corporations “shouldn’t forget about themselves—and especially their treasurer’s LinkedIn profiles.”
Richards shares his thoughts in the Cobase report about an amazing LinkedIn profile that particularly appealed to candidates for the treasurer position: “They wrote a lot on their profile about the things they did in their role as treasurer and why it wasn’t just about number crunching. They explained why treasury was about having 60% of the data and making a very educated guess about what to do next—and then proving it, or disproving it.”
Given that treasury is so much more than “some dull number crunching”, it is necessary to get candidates inspired about the job by bringing to the fore that treasury is “About growing a company, innovation, and creating new chances by (for example) implementing the newest technology and digital solutions”, the report recommends. “If you get it right, aspiring treasurers can find their inspiration on your LinkedIn profile”, Richards notes.
The third aspect that the report advocates to attract candidates is to think things through before putting out the job description and ensure that the offer is as compelling as it can be.
To do so, organisations must, at the very beginning of the recruitment process, build trust with the candidates – “They must know from the start that you can facilitate them in their uncertainties to gain their trust. Otherwise, you can look as hard as you can, but no one will show up”, advises the Cobase report.
Profiling the treasurer
What you are looking for in your next treasurer will depend upon your company needs. However, “Even if you have a clear overview of your needs, making the perfect profile for your treasurer can be more complicated than many organisations think”, the report explains.
While profiling and searching for treasurers, Pieter de Kiewit, founder and CEO of Treasurer Search, urges treasury recruiters to be mindful of the fact that “There is no one-size-fits-all profile for a great treasurer.”
De Kiewit adds that “Before an organisation spends a large amount of money on recruiting a treasurer, the requirements must be clear.” For this to happen, the report proposes that companies undertake “A solid and honest analysis” of what type of person fits into their needs and what they actually have to offer. Only then is the right match possible.
Next, de Kiewit favours disclosing the salary range in the job listing to get more suitable candidates to respond – “If you want people to come and meet you, you need to make your company attractive. This starts with job descriptions that are often not ‘sexy.’ For example, if a salary level is not mentioned in a job ad, there will be 70% fewer responses.”
De Kiewit further highlights one of the key challenges that companies run into when recruiting treasurers – “The treasurer themselves or CFOs are often not well-versed in recruiting, and the HR department does not know a great deal about Treasury.” So if you are looking for specific treasury skills, he stresses that “You need specialized recruiters to test and match”, and that means dedicated treasury recruiters should not be considered a luxury.
What not to do when recruiting a treasurer
A somewhat inconvenient truth that must be addressed by treasurers and organizations, thinks François Masquelier, chair of the European Association of Corporate Treasurers (EACT), is that “Many treasurers don’t dare to hire people who are smarter than they are. Yet, this is the recipe for success. Dare to hire people stronger than you and detect high potentials.”
It is equally important to stop profiling candidates based on their education and background. Widening the recruitment perspective to look for “more diversity in profile and culture”, believes Masquelier, can help you find the right treasurer.
Not shying away from change is another hard lesson the finance world has to learn. According to Masquelier, “Financial people want more technology in their cars and phones, but not in their work.” To attract the right talent, it is imperative for treasury to keep pace with digital transformation, embrace emerging technologies and give priority to quality in order to optimise what they have.
In a rapidly changing world, “Treasury can only keep pace if and when the right people are in the lead”, the Cobase report points out.
To attract and discover your next treasurer, follow the advice in the report – “Focus on what your candidate treasurers need and make them a matching offer. But before that, all your recruitment activities must also be aimed at your candidate’s needs.” In addition, listen to Mekki Weydert, Director Treasury & Risk at Scotch & Soda: “Start making your Treasury more visible, and you’ll attract the best people for the job.”
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