Insight & Analysis

Treasury talent: the value of soft skills

Published: Jan 2024

When it comes to recruiting top treasury talent, soft skills and a strategic mindset are becoming increasingly critical.

Soft skill wooden building blocks

For the treasury profession, demand for soft skills has risen in recent years. The 2022 Deloitte Global Treasury Survey, for example, noted that “critical skill sets in treasury have evolved to include more soft skills and technology skills than traditional business and finance skills.”

And as PwC’s Global Treasury Survey 2023 points out, “The role of treasurers is increasingly shifting towards that of a strategic business partner, with CFOs expecting them to be more involved in the business and act as de facto advisors to the organisation.”

Evolving profile

According to François Masquelier, CEO of Simply Treasury and Chair of the European Association of Corporate Treasurers (EACT), “The profile of the treasurer has changed over the last few years and will continue to evolve.” He adds there are a number of reasons for this evolution, including the increasing importance of technology in treasury management. In addition, he says, “the spectrum of tasks and skills has become wider, making the typical profile more complex.”

As such, treasury departments are having to completely change their approach to recruitment. “Today, more than ever, it is necessary to attract talent (which is difficult) and IT and coding skills to be able to aspire to hyper-automation, the Holy Grail of modern treasury,” Masquelier adds.

Recruiting soft skills

In the current market, finding and attracting the right talent can be something of a challenge. Katie Hardie, Executive Consultant, Global Treasury at The Treasury Recruitment Company, says that as 2024 begins, many companies “are looking at growing the quality of their teams and making the right strategic investment, both in the talent they’re recruiting and in technology.” In particular, she notes, companies are focusing more closely on soft skills.

Masquelier likewise emphasises the importance of soft skills in treasury. “As well as looking for IT and coding skills, the treasurer needs to look for people from different backgrounds, cultures and experiences to enrich the team,” he says. “Nor can the treasurer neglect soft skills to become a business partner and play a more pro-active role.”

If he had to recruit his future treasury team tomorrow, Masquelier adds, he would give greater priority than before to characteristics such as soft skills, curiosity, creativity and openness to innovation and change. “I’d recruit profiles that were completely different, but complementary to my own,” he adds. “Finally, I’d be looking for people who are flexible and open to teamwork.”

Attracting and retaining treasury talent

At the same time, Hardie says companies are looking to recruit treasury professionals with a strategic background and the ability to manage technology implementations – “which sounds easy to find, but actually isn’t.” At the analyst and manager level, she says candidates tend to have an operational focus, but may historically have had fewer opportunities to run projects and play a strategic role within their organisations.

With well-qualified candidates much in demand, analysts and managers with the right skills and backgrounds can expect a significant salary uplift, she adds. At the treasurer and assistant treasurer level, meanwhile, companies are taking steps to encourage candidates to stay in their roles for longer by introducing long-term retention incentives.

International and diverse teams

On another note, as companies expand their treasury functions, they are also increasingly moving away from classic treasury structures and embracing more modern international and diverse teams. This shift is contributing to the continuing importance of working from home and hybrid patterns which were rapidly adopted by many companies during the pandemic.

“There are still quite a few companies that need to have that mindset shift,” Hardie concludes. “But in general, the recruitment market is very buoyant, and things are moving very quickly.”

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