Insight & Analysis

Powering Change: Franca Aeby, Senior Cash Manager, Roche

Published: Dec 2023

Franca Aeby, Senior Cash Manager at Roche explains why she believes old-fashioned communication is still one of the most important treasury skills. Echoing key themes in our recent Powering Change taskforce with J.P. Morgan Payments, she said communication not only allows treasury to articulate the rationale behind decisions to stakeholders; it is an essential tool for leaders needing to inspire and nurture future talent.

Franca Aeby, Senior Cash Manager, Roche

How important is communication in treasury, and is it undervalued?

Communication is not undervalued. The ability to communicate within your own team and with wider stakeholders is a core skill. It’s important that treasury can explain why we have made a particular decision or recommendation in a way that everyone understands – and ultimately persuade our stakeholders to come to the same conclusion as us: it’s not about just saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’, but about having the ability to articulate why we are doing something in a particular way.

And communication is made more complex because often treasury speaks a slightly different language to other stakeholders and business divisions. For example, treasury tends to target longer-term goals in contrast to other corners of the business focused on short-term priorities. It’s important to have the same time-horizon when we talk to others, and this involves communication skills.

In another example, our team’s ability to communicate with other departments in the business has come under the spotlight in recent years because of sanctions and heightened geopolitical risk. Because the requirements are so complex, we talk to our in-house lawyers almost every day. We can’t reply to certain emails from our banking partners without approvals from legal and tax divisions, a process that relies on strong communication – and colleagues understanding what we do (and need) in treasury.

How important are IT and tech skills in treasury?

It’s very important that treasury uses all the technology that is available, and that individuals are prepared to keep improving their skills and adopt new systems and processes. It requires an open mind to use new technology in a way that benefits the entire organisation. The roll out of new technology supporting cash visibility is notably slow and it is difficult to know what the right technology is to support treasury in this respect.

Treasury doesn’t necessarily require niche, deep dive expertise in technology. It’s more important to understand the benefits of technology; have an interest and curiosity to learn and a good base knowledge. For example, this could include the ability to judge the best IT partner for treasury – either a bank or your company’s own company’s internal IT team.

What are the most important skills in treasury?

There are three different types of skills that treasury requires. First are the hard skills which form the base and includes corporate finance expertise; how to handle moves in interest rates, cash management and in-house bank expertise, for example. In addition, people also need to be open to new things and have an appetite to keep learning. Treasury needs people who are prepared to keep updating their skills – updating hard skills, and staying up to date, is core to the job.

Lastly treasury requires soft skills too. You need to be a good leader and have the ability to bring the best out of people, ensuring they feel safe and able to speak up. The ability to lead is an example of how soft skills are now as valuable as hard skills, something that has recently changed. Treasurers don’t just need to be the boss, they also need to lead and motivate their team, coach and enable colleagues, and manage work relationships – leaders need to have a genuine interest in the people in their team. This extends to empowering people to move positions, particularly young people, hungry for new experiences. In my case, when I was given the freedom and opportunity to live overseas and change position, it confirmed my interest in treasury.

Leadership is also essential for the retention of talent. Developing soft skills like a leadership style, or for example the ability to network, has become more difficult since the pandemic and increased remote working – because one way to learn these skills is by observing others.

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