Treasury Talent

Question Answered: Recruiting and retaining talent

Published: Jul 2022

“How is the competition for talent affecting treasury and what are the best strategies for recruiting and retaining talent?”

Black background with silhouettes and magnifying glass
Portrait of Kemi Bolarin, Head of Treasury – Europe, GXO

Kemi Bolarin

Head of Treasury – Europe

There is a great deal of talk about the Great Resignation which was triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is more the great re-think or the great re-awakening! The lockdown was an opportunity for most to rethink and re-prioritise work-life balance. I was part of the great resignation, changing roles twice last year, including leaving a role I had for only a few weeks before moving to GXO. It was then and still is an employee-centred job market.

My first task at GXO was to set up a new treasury team based in Europe. I have filled most of the open positions and have two open roles left. One of the two open roles was filled last year, and the individual has since decided to move on. Testimony to a very active job market. While we speak to the impacts of the lockdown and the Great Resignation, treasury is fast evolving as a profession, and role requirements are changing.

As the treasury profession disentangles from pure operational treasury and transforms to a centre of excellence, we are looking beyond technical abilities in FX and cash management and expanding skills requirements to include data analysis and data science. I am looking for individuals that can think outside the box and help us use technology to elevate our treasury to world class. Individuals that are passionate about the application of AI, machine learning and robotics. To compound the recruitment challenges, fintechs are also in the same job market seeking these ‘tech-savvy’ talents.

So, the question is: how can we be attractive to the talents out there and retain them when hired?

Pre-pandemic recruitment process needs to be tweaked to attract the highly sought after ‘new wave talents’.

Organisations need to think creatively about pay packages that combine good market base rate and benefits, career growth opportunities and flexible working arrangements. ESG performance and reporting is also a recurring topic with applicants.

How do we achieve getting talents through the door? A close working partnership with good quality recruitment agencies that offer bespoke services is vital. This is no longer a one-size-fits-all-DIY-job advert job market. It is important to work together with reputable recruitment agencies in developing relevant job descriptions that will appeal to the modern-day applicants out there in the job market.

Talent secured, tick.

What next? Retain hired talent.

There is a list of considerations here – organisations need to adopt the human approach; it is foremost about people, mental health and wellbeing. Review work culture, train managers in how to maintain high team engagement and be aware of staff burnout; improve and promote a healthy work-life balance.

The lockdown has shown us that remote working is possible, and it is top of the list of applicants’ requests. At GXO, I recently interviewed a brilliant lady who demanded that full-time remote working be written into her contract. While we offer flexible working arrangements, I couldn’t commit the company to such a contract because circumstances change. Though the elements of the role appealed to the lady, and she was keen to join the team, 100% remote working was her top priority, so she gave up the offer. The lady accepted another role the next day at another organisation that offered her 100% remote working.

Managing a remote team comes with its challenges especially given the importance of retaining and keeping staff engaged. It is now more important than ever to ensure that managers are trained and equipped with the right tools to successfully manage remote teams.

At GXO, career development is very important to our executives; our Group Treasurer takes a keen interest in team members’ individual development plan. Once people know their employer is appreciative of enhanced knowledge, there is a high chance that they will stay motivated and engaged.

Recruitment is made more complicated with wage inflation, pay is all over the place. It’s challenging to benchmark talent and near impossible to assess upfront if the successful applicant has the right skills. Recruitment is expensive in fees and time, hence the importance of engaging good quality and experienced recruitment agencies in the field.

In my opinion, pay levels will eventually adjust but remote working is here to stay, and leaders need to embrace it.

Portrait of Mike Richards, CEO and Founder, The Treasury Recruitment Company

Mike Richards

CEO and Founder
The Treasury Recruitment Company

We are a global treasury recruitment firm recruiting at all levels from Treasury Analyst to Global Treasurer for large multinational corporates and consultancies.

Initially at the start of the pandemic you might have 100 people applying for a job. Then it dropped down to 50 and then it was ten and now it’s two. And it might be a perfect role and everything else, but the fact is people don’t need to move now. And that’s the thing employers must realise, they need to present an irresistible proposition if they want to attract the best talent.

I was talking to a client from a large global automotive company, famous brand, and everything else. He was saying to me that he was trying to recruit, and he showed me two or three different adverts that they were placing. And they were just a copy and paste of job descriptions and duties. And that’s the difference.

The most successful employers will get in the heads of a candidate and the ones that are able to sell themselves and present themselves in a way where people want to join them.

It’s a fact that you don’t need to work five days a week in the office now. No one does. The pandemic has proved that. It’s about working out how many days you think is your preference/needed and then reaching an agreement between the employee/employer to suit everyone.

I know that there’s a couple of my clients in the US who have found it quite difficult. They have found it hard because some of the older members of the team, for instance, the CFO who lives near the office, wants everyone in the team back in the office 100% of the time.

That’s starting to cause a problem for others who have long commutes and feel the pressure to return to the office. Employers need to work out their future policy and what’s going to happen in the world of work and flexibility, because if you’re not flexible you may lose out on top talent. Being able to be flexible in this area is where you are going to gain a competitive advantage or disadvantage in the market. The minute you can get past that is when you gain a competitive advantage.

And it’s not about you anymore. Now, candidates will vote with their feet, they won’t necessarily decide they want to come back for your second interview. And in terms of your current staff, if people don’t enjoy working with you and you don’t give them the flexibility and you can’t work together in partnership, then they will simply leave.

A client asked me the other day why would we use you?

I explained, because I’m not talking to candidates who are actively seeking new roles, I spend my time talking to candidates who aren’t seeking new roles. Ninety five percent of the people we speak to are passive candidates.

Portrait of Wei Kher Wong, Manger, Michael Page, Singapore

Wei Kher Wong

Michael Page, Singapore

I have been with Michael Page in Singapore for four years where my clients largely comprise banks and MAS-licensed companies based in Singapore. We are a team of nine specialist recruiters working in the financial services industry to fill all positions from mid to senior levels, including treasury.

In contrast to other regions, the treasury employment market in Singapore is relatively flat at the moment. Mostly because the supply of professionals in front and back office treasury jobs is slow and movement is limited. Because there is a limited pool of treasury roles in Singapore, it makes for an element of musical chairs. This situation contrasts with sectors such as accountancy where we are seeing an abundance of new positions.

Movement and churn are also slow because most corporate treasury functions in Singapore are already lean. Treasury teams in Singapore are typically part of bigger APAC offices for example Hong Kong. However, when Hong Kong treasury teams struggle to recruit, we have noticed a shift to move those positions into Singapore. Although the treasury roles are relatively less here, the employment market has been very busy. As evident in our annual salary survey report, average salary increment has increased over the past two years.

During COVID we observed a churn in traditional banking and financial services roles. Virtual interviews led to a trend of candidates being offered two or three job, driving up competition and salaries. It was also not uncommon to see treasury candidates using these offers from different companies to drive their salaries higher and ask for increments.

It’s interesting to see the different ways companies are trying to retain staff. At Michael Page we have adopted a methodology that we share with our clients to help reduce attrition rates which have evolved around the work from home culture. WFH reduces human interaction and increases stress; we advise Wellness Days and that companies review their benefit packages. Candidates don’t just look at their salary anymore; they look at corporate culture and how well companies treat their staff. This also includes levels of inclusivity and how involved they are within the company. Pay is no longer the only factor.

Next question:

“As the threat of recession becomes increasingly real, what should treasury prioritise?”

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