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October 2012

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Talented treasurers are jumping ship

The EuroFinance International Conference always provides a good opportunity for putting your finger on the treasury pulse. And while the myriad sessions offer up an accurate reflection of treasurers’ current priorities, it is the coffee break chatter that really gets to the heart of their preoccupations.

While the usual suspects (liquidity, efficiency and SEPA – to name but three) were high on the priority list this year1, there was another key area of talk among banks and corporates alike: treasury talent. Conversations ranged from technology improvements that have enabled headcount to be reduced – or at least redeployed – to the growing role of the interim treasurer. But a real source of intrigue for many was the increasing number of senior treasurers going over to the ‘dark side’.

So why has joining a bank become so fashionable of late? And are we witnessing the start of a trend, or is this simply another fad?

In terms of the incentives for jumping ship, remuneration will no doubt have a role to play. But there are more fundamental forces at work here too. The crisis has done several things to the treasury department and its staff. Roles have grown, budgets have been cut, technology has taken pride of place – and risk has put shackles on thinking ‘outside the box’.

By taking a position in a bank (one that is investing in its technology), treasurers can think big. They can get creative – and actually have product and technological gurus on hand to bring those ideas to life. The phrase ‘kid in a sweet shop’ comes to mind.

Of course there’s more to it and ex-treasurers will be expected to pull their weight in the packaging and presentation of products too. In fact, their perspective will be invaluable in helping the banks to connect with clients in a clearer, more targeted way (and to drive deals).

There are only a handful of banks aggressively hiring from the corporate treasury pool today. Although almost all the banks have a few ex-treasurers lurking behind the scenes somewhere. The difference with this latest round of recruits is that they will be largely client-facing. And this can only be a good thing for relationships.

Nevertheless, a question mark remains over the longevity of such hires. After five years out of the corporate treasury environment, for example, will their insight still be as relevant? And do treasurers really have the skills demanded by these client-facing roles?

Let us know what you think:

  1. The EuroFinance International Cash and Treasury Management Conference took place from 26th to 28th September 2012 in Monaco. Sign up to our complimentary Treasury Insights e-briefing for all the latest stories from the floor: