Be competent, be confident, but be caring. These are the ‘three Cs’ that Jennifer Boussuge has aimed to embody throughout her 19-year career at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Having risen up through the ranks, with previous roles including Global Head of Sales for GTS, Head of International Subsidiary Banking Sales, GTS EMEA, and GTS Industry Head leading the delivery of global treasury and liquidity management services to large corporate healthcare and consumer and retail clients throughout the US, Jennifer’s appointment as Head of Global Transaction Services, EMEA in July 2013 is a reflection of her vision, hard work and commitment, and also of her ability to inspire and motivate.
Indeed, as a member of the bank’s Diversity and Inclusion Council and Co-Executive sponsor of its ‘Lead for Women’ Employee Network, Jennifer has a very keen personal interest in developing talent in the workplace. “I take great pride in being a mentor, and in many ways, a role model for women within the bank. But it’s also important to me that we have balanced opportunities for both genders,” she says. “Here at the bank our experience is that gender diversity leads to stronger business performance which ultimately produces better results for our clients.”
That said, Jennifer does believe that women bring a different skillset to treasury than their male counterparts. “Typically women are by nature quite collaborative. They’re good at asking questions (they’ll always stop and ask for directions!) and they tend to be proficient at juggling a multitude of tasks. If you look at how the treasurer’s role has changed and evolved over the last few years, and how corporates are striving to do more with less, that really plays to a woman’s strengths,” she adds.
Although the current treasury environment may play to the female skillset, there remain a number of women in treasury who struggle to make their voice heard within the organisation and find it difficult to demonstrate the value that treasury brings to an organisation. Jennifer suggests that data may hold the key: “Today, treasurers are being asked more frequently to provide information to the C-suite. Where treasury professionals – both men and women – can start to raise their profile and make themselves even more valuable within the organisation is by better understanding the data flows within their organisation. Through the analysis of this data and the identification of useful patterns, the treasurer can become more of a strategic partner to the business.”
“As a bank we have been doing a lot of work with clients to help them turn information into data. This is all part of a movement towards greater collaboration across the market,” Jennifer observes. “In addition to this data enhancement, we’ve definitely seen treasurers calling more on external partners, such as outsourcing providers, and implementing increasingly sophisticated technology in order to get the best use of the limited resources that they have available.”
Regulation has also made the market more collaborative, says Jennifer. “Today, there are major regulatory pressures and costs which affect not only the banks but also impact corporates. It’s easy to dwell on the negative consequences of regulation, but it has markedly improved the security and transparency of the global financial system. It has also led to deeper partnerships between the global banks and the local financial institutions.”
Interestingly, she also believes that regulation has brought banks and corporates closer together: “Relationships are now much more in focus. As a result of Basel III, when we look at how we provide capital to our clients we aim to have a much deeper and multi-faceted relationship with them in order to support the overall lending relationship. A loan is now looked at as an investment in a client and in a relationship,” she explains.
This candid, straight-talking approach is one of Jennifer’s hallmarks – as is her ability to recognise the opportunities that nestle among changes and challenges. How appropriate, then, that Jennifer’s motto in life (borrowed from Canadian former professional ice hockey player Wayne Gretzky) is: “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”