Festival of Treasury Transformation - a roundup from Day 3

Notes from Festival of Treasury Transformation – Day 3


Transforming treasury teams and their working practices

Marcia Uy, Director, Global Commercial Treasury, Rio Tinto; 
Staney Pullolickel, Regional Treasurer (Commercial) - MENAT, SSA & Asia, GE; 
Royston Da Costa, Assistant Group Treasurer, Ferguson

Treasury is a people business, therefore we need to interact with people. 

The pandemic has accelerated transformation within treasury team and beyond, ie:

  • Treasury team was not expected to be working from home but now it’s proofed that it can be just as productive in managing this volatile scenario. 
  • Treasury team comes closer to the wider business and puts more emphasis on people. 
  • Treasury team was able to pause and re-define their ways of working. 
  • Treasury team experienced a change in communication. 
  • Standardizing management practices is more critical as the role of the treasury team is not only protecting cash flow, but also being responsible for wider business operation. 

Will treasury teams be seen differently during and post-crisis?
Absolutely. The panel pointed out that automation and standardization are more appreciated across the business. The value and credibility of treasury are more transparent, which was not the case before. A collective power of working as a team will be critical to keeping the business going. 

In a virtual space, what skillset do treasury professionals need? 
The fundamental technical and operational skills are essential as always but having some level of technical expertise will be key for treasury professionals to be able to work in this new environment. In addition to that, the panel suggested collaboration, leadership and adaptability are significantly important for treasurers to obtain a strategic view. 

Innovation and technology transformation will emerge more due to remote working. People will persist in the treasury function but be more agile and adaptive to new technologies. For the wider business, it’s important to note that collaboration goes hand in hand with innovation. Working with internal team and external counterparties (ie. Source searching and relationship re-defining) will be critical to validate the business case and demonstrate the value of transformation. 

One key lesson learned:

  • Do not hesitate to communicate with your team and CFO about the transformation (implementation) plan;
  • Focus on people’s safety and wellbeing; 
  • Conduct formal and informal discussions with the team as well as those working on the ground; 


The strategic treasurer: the changing role and perspective of a treasurer in a transformed world

Rachael Crocker, Head of Practice - Treasury, Brewer Morris
Bjork Hupfeld, Global Treasurer, The Hershey Company
Muir Mathieson, Treasurer, Nationwide Building Society
Oliver Whiddett, Group Treasurer, Tate & Lyle

The strategic treasurer: the changing role and perspective of a treasurer

Role of the treasurer – a recruiter’s perspective
-    Evolved significantly over the last 15 years.
-    Historically, it was seen as more transactional. Since the global financial crisis in 2008 treasury has come in to focus.
-    Treasury is seen as strategic, forward-thinking and value-adding.
-    Automation of many transactional processes has meant there is an increase in the value-add aspects of treasury and in the analytical work undertaken by the team.

What skills are needed to be successful in treasury
In the past technical capability was critical but now strategic skills are needed in addition to the technical ones.
The top three strategic skills are:
1.    Relationship management - bringing internal stakeholders together AND managing the external relationship with bankers, credit rating agencies, the treasury network and other stakeholders.
2.    Leadership – not just your own team leadership but leadership within the company. The treasurer needs to be visible company-wide and get buy-in from the whole organisation.
3.    Innovation – you need to drive change and champion new ideas and know ways to do things differently.
The strategic treasurer is increasing in demand and profile and there are some exciting career opportunities ahead.

Role of the treasurer – a treasurer’s perspective
Treasury has to work with all areas of the business and needs to take an internal sales role. 
The treasury function works will all areas of the business and need to provide good guidance and the optimal solution to all of these teams; treasury has the visibility to see across departments and areas and to come up with a holistic view.

Role of the treasurer – an FI’s perspective
-    Slightly different for treasurers working in a FI due to the impact of regulation.
-    Treasury is at the heart of things and helps to join the dots of what is happening in the organisation.
-    Treasury provides services to the business but must also protect the business by acting as the guardian of the balance sheet. They are the financial conscience of the organisation and must hold it to account.
-    It’s important to use networks outside your own company as a different perspective/the outside view can add value to the organisation

How do you increase the visibility of the strategic role of treasury?
-    Meet senior people to ask them how treasury can support them. This gives the chance for you to explain the skillset within the treasury team and to provide a platform from which to build a business relationship. 
-    The treasury role is routed in strong controls and cash management. The team is on the receiving end of cash flows and can look at what drives the cash flow, ask yourself: what levers can we pull e.g. customer payment plans, payment supplier terms? Show how the team can add value.

How has treasury evolved?
-    The increasing use of automation and technology has made routine tasks within treasury more efficient.
-    Time is now spent on insight, longer-term views and looking at future paths/scenario planning.
-    Treasurers are really motivated to add value to the organisation – and invest in their professional development.

What is the difference between a strategic treasurer and one that plans well?

The strategic treasurer will be:
-    Innovative and creative.
-    A relationship builder – both internally and externally.
-    Holistic and understand the wider business being able to see all the moving parts.
-    Step out of their comfort zone and take on ‘non-standard’ projects.
-    Inquisitive and see themselves as a leader of the business as a whole.
-    Welcome questions even if they don’t know the answer.
-    Use external contacts and insight and build their understanding and get the best solution.
-    Learn from their experience and use the opportunity to tell treasury’s story.

Why is it hard to explain what a treasurer does?
-    The treasurer’s role is very far-reaching and extremely broad. It can be very technical but also highly strategic.
-    There can be a misunderstanding that the role is internally focussed and very niche – those who work in treasury know this isn’t true!
-    You need to find a way to make treasury tangible to your audience so that they are receptive to what you say and can understand it. By breaking down the role into the impact it will have on that particular audience you will ensure they understand what you do better. 

What’s the most important skill set to be strategic?
-    There is no one more important skill, it’s a mixture.
-    Judgement, relationship management, experience, and an understanding of technology are all key.

What will be the most radical change to treasury over the next five-10 years?
-    Depends on the organisation but technology will continue to play a role with an increase in automation.
-    Treasury teams will be made up of more senior and analytical team members who will be a more strategic, proactive piece of the organisation.

What has helped the panellists to become more strategic?
-    Experience. Getting exposure to different projects, looking at different perspectives, putting yourself forward for non-core projects.
-    Be curious, be brave, think commercially.
-    Experiment. Test boundaries, look at what conversations you can join and how you can add value.
-    Be inquisitive. Don’t accept no as an answer.
-    Don’t be afraid to take ownership of what you promote.


Treasury talent in a world of accelerated transformation

Jayesh Hirani, Assistant Treasurer, SEGRO
Tram Anh Nguyen, Co-Founder, CFTE
Mike Richards, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, The Treasury Recruitment Company

Treasury teams and people in treasury are facing an incredible amount of changes and transformation. 
Key quotes from this session:
Jayesh Hirani: ‘Strategic aspects of treasury can only be done by human’. 
Tram Anh Nyugen: ‘Can we transform organisation without transforming people? Absolutely no’. 
Mike Richards: ‘Treasury professionals have now become a ‘filter’ for new technologies’.  
How do you see transformation in treasury and finance industry?
•    The role of treasurer is adapting and evolving to this new normal – where/when/how people are performing is completely different from it was before;
•    Education is and will continue being extremely important for treasurers – treasury teams need training and technical sponsorship in order to transform. 
•    Consecutive learning approach should be adopted. 
•    Mentorship: senior leaders should devote time and efforts to help young/junior treasurers to understand/appreciate the changes and lead/guide them to go through the transformation process. 
•    Working towards value – it is important to always keep the value of your job in mind and work towards it. It’s proven to be a driving factor that leads to success. 
•    Time to learn new ways of working and reskill ourselves to address the weaknesses that appear during the crisis. 
•    Employee expectation has changed – employees are motivated and retained by not only the technical/operational aspects of the job role but also the social experience they could get out of it. More interaction and coaching are required by the employer. 
The world of finance and treasury is reshaping with new technologies being adopted at a fast pace. As treasurers’ role becomes more and more technology-related/relevant, treasurers need to equip themselves with relevant and irrelevant knowledge and skills, integrating a tech perspective into their role objectives. 
How can we improve diversity?
•    A more holistic view needed to look at each individual in the recruitment process, giving a fair chance for every candidate. 
•    Collective effort needs to be made by corporates and professional bodies so the industry has a clear understanding of the status. 
•    Mindset change is critical – Give more opportunities to female professionals and minority ethnical group to come to the front. 
Will we see more global workforce? Yes and increasingly more in the virtual working environment. 
Will people’s learning style change? More practical and experience-based learning will be welcome. Online learning will emerge further. 


The importance of education in changing times

Amanda Bradley, Executive Coach, Liberty EQ
Adrian Sargent, Founder & Managing Director, ESG Treasury
Marc Granville, Director, Head of Executive Education, International Capital Market Association (ICMA)
Chris van Dijl, Founder, Cugavadi

The impact of COVID 19 on professional education: 

  • Online learning has seen a shift and more opportunities arise; 
  • Huge capacity and desire to learn something new;
  • Have a clearer understanding of what you need in the professional space;
  • People work more hours when working from home; 
  • More emphasis on work-life balance & work-study balance; 

What will we see post-covid-19?

  • Practice behaviour change is expected and a more collaborative approach between professional training bodies and technology suppliers will be required.
  • The rise of gamification is inevitable as interaction needs to be more active. 
  • It may be more difficult for tutors to gauge students, therefore new tools and skills will be needed to get them engaged and connected. 
  • Face-to-face learning will not disappear. 
  • Professional bodies will re-evaluate and restructure their courses to better meet students’ personalised learning needs. 
  • The younger generation of students will choose a hybrid approach to learning.

Technical topics vs Soft skill topics 
Treasury and finance professionals need to be competent in both. Having technical skills to enable them to understand the operational aspect of the job, while soft skills can help them effectively report/influence/collaborate/tackle difficult situations. The ACT and ICMA have already incorporated some elements of soft skills (ie. judgement, decision making) into their courses. 

From a treasurer’s perspective, their role has become more and more strategic driven, which requires treasurers to have a good understanding of technical, strategic and commercial knowledge. The panel proposed to adopt more informal training, as well as promoting cross-organisational training courses that can be beneficial for both treasury and finance professionals. 

Diversity and inclusion are at the top of the agenda for all professional bodies. The ACT and ICMA have been promoting diversity and inclusion to their respective member communities, encouraging member organisations to improve diversity and inclusion, and will continue being the champion in cultivating diversity and inclusion in the recruitment, training and development. 

Mental health: An increasing problem but with a greater societal focus?

Lynda Funke, Partner, Fidelio Partners
Lloyd Peckham, Clinical Psychotherapist
Joe Peka, Deputy Treasurer, Urenco

Lloyd Peckham: ‘There is a desire for face to face therapy since lockdown and it’s almost a craving for an experience of seeing or being seen as a complete human being’. 
Joseph Peka: ‘Mental health is a component of health and safety at the workplace and it’s absolutely critical for all organisations’. 
Caroline Stockmann: ‘We are not ‘working at home’ - we are sitting at home in a crisis and trying to work.’ 

Top concerns and uncertainties people are facing during a crisis:

  • Family and relationships: whether the intimate relationship is safe and secure; 
  • Unable to interact nor interpret feelings from body languages; 
  • Anxiety increased, which leads to isolation and potentially slip into depression;  
  • Impacts on younger generation;
  • Unable to communicate as we were before; 

From a treasury perspective, the panel suggested to make more informal communication, both internal and external, and encourage teams to resolve these issues together by apply innovative approaches.  

Senior leaders and board members have now recognised the importance of mental health. Efforts have been made from the top, including mental health initiatives led by the Royal Family, as well as top CXOs supporting initiatives to enable their employees to protect their health, particularly mental health. It’s agreed that this crisis has accelerated this shift and enhanced the whole process. 

Steps towards accepting mental health issues at the workplace: 

  • Open attitude to support mental health initiatives at work and promote internally; 
  • Encourage conversations around a wider range of mental health issues; 
  • Increase access to mental health care so it becomes a benefit for employees; 

Social elements within ESG scope:

  • A shift from shareholder’s value to broader stakeholder’s value; 
  • Direct conversations and initiatives towards investment strategy;  
  • Changing attitude towards working from home - Returning to the office is now driven/determined by employees rather than employers; 

All organisations are being challenged on how they can incorporate social elements into their strategies and business models. 



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