Treasury is in vogue. Demand for corporate treasury as a career choice has increased significantly since the onset of the financial crisis, with the number of enrolments for the AMCT Diploma rising by a third compared to 2008, according to the UK Association of Corporate Treasurers.
A number of factors are behind this growing popularity. Let’s start with the most obvious one. There is no doubt that the treasury role has taken on a more public profile in recent years, both inside and outside the boardroom. The fundamental treasury disciplines of cash and risk management have become all the more important. And treasurers have gained a strategic foothold in driving growth as a result.
But let’s look under the radar, too. Universities and recent graduates are also responding to dramatic changes in the labour market, becoming more attuned to the requirements of businesses. “People arrive at treasury in umpteen different directions and different stages in their career,” says Colin Tyler, Chief Executive of the Association of Corporate Treasurers. “But we are increasingly seeing people who want to get in at an earlier stage. Perhaps that is a response to the fact that it is quite a difficult time for graduates in the labour market.”
Treasury is often characterised as a profession which people fall into mid-way through their career. But now treasurers-to-be are making the leap at a younger age. “There is certainly a greater awareness of treasury and risk management among younger candidates,” notes Mike Tucker, Director at MR Recruitment. The treasury recruitment specialist has seen rising demand at the first and second ‘jobber’ level as candidates seek a move from more traditional, general finance roles.
“The profile of treasury has risen exponentially in recent times,” says Tucker. “The economic crisis has put risk management at the top of everyone’s agenda and for the younger generation who have expressed an interest in finance, treasury is now seen as a more proactive, exciting area to pursue. It is increasingly seen as the modern alternative to more traditional areas of finance, such as tax or accounting.”
Third level institutions, such as the London Metropolitan Business School and Dublin City University, are offering postgraduate courses in corporate treasury amid efforts to tap into the growing pool of career-conscious students. The goal is to provide rigorous training and a practical foundation in treasury and risk management skills so often sought by employers. Students, for their part, face rising tuition fees and are now more likely to pick a degree that can offer a better chance of employment.
There is a growing understanding among younger professionals that treasury creates real value in the business as well as the wider economy. And, while the economic crisis may have shaken the treasury labour market, it has also demonstrated how instrumental effective treasury operations can be for a business.