A global symbol of excellence, the Certified Treasury Professional (CTP) designation sets the standard in the treasury profession. Earning the CTP signifies you have demonstrated the knowledge and skills required to effectively execute critical functions related to corporate liquidity, and capital and risk management.
AFP recently caught up with Shankar Ramaswamy, CTP, treasury business partner at a global travel firm in India, to discuss his decision to earn the CTP, and how it has affected his life and career journey.
How did you get your start in treasury?
Shankar: My journey in treasury was quite accidental. I earned my bachelor’s degree in engineering and my master’s degree in general management. Afterwards, I was working as credit analyst, and there was high attrition on the treasury team. My reporting director, who was also incidentally the regional head of treasury and credit, transferred me to treasury as an ad hoc resource until vacancies were filled. Due to internal company issues, the recruitments never happened. I juggled both roles with an eventual transition to a full-time treasury professional.
I never imagined that I would be in treasury, and for many firms in India, treasury is still very part of financial planning and analysis. Due to various multinational corporations setting up global subsidiaries, the relevance of treasury as strategic business unit only recently emerged.
However, I enjoyed working in treasury and endeavored to learn and improve further. Treasury has a bird’s eye view of entire business management with interaction across cross teams. Learning people skills and time management while also working on multiple projects is something I enjoy!
What are some core aspects of your day-to-day job?
Shankar: My day-to-day responsibilities vary, and I handle a lot of different aspects in treasury. Some of those aspects include:
- Cash management: Cash pooling/working capital requirement.
- Bank relationship: Credit lines/bank account management.
- FX risk: Hedging/interest rate risk management.
- Treasury Management System (TMS): TMS improvements/adaptation.
- Digital products and innovation: With respect to payments/vendor/receivable management.
What is something that you would like to do in the future in treasury?
Shankar: The next wave of innovation is expected in payments and cash management using application programming interfaces and blockchain. This innovation will have a cascading effect in terms of cash movements turnaround time, both domestically and cross-border. TMSs will also be suitably altered to work around change. I want to be associated with all these changes in digitalizing treasury activities.
Are there certain skills or training that help you in what you do now?
Shankar: In my current role, I have exposure to the TMS and workings of intercompany, accounts payable, and accounts receivables teams — all which help me to connect the dots in cash management.
As so much digitalization is occurring around us, I would be keen to learn more background in SWIFT payments mechanisms and IT relations with respect to cash management. I also think it is important to have more exposure to ERP/SAP tools.
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What skills are most important to you to add over the next couple of years?
Shankar: I want to keep abreast of the rapidly changing environment and regulations concerning payments and its impact on treasury. I also see cross-cultural mingling of work responsibilities between technology, payments and receivable with treasury teams. Treasury will act as “internal product manager” of the company.
What is the most critical treasury issue you are facing today?
Shankar: The most critical issue we are facing today is cash forecasting during the coronavirus pandemic. We need to ensure that it is as close to actuals as possible.
In these challenging times, there is utmost importance of using “cash” judiciously. As for treasury, “cash is king.” Banks are reluctant to extend credit lines unless the business cycle improves. Most non-IT businesses are struggling. We are now looking for improved robust cash forecasting so that we can close to real-time cash positioning. The actuals vs. forecasted variances are now more closely examined than ever before and this cascades to the concerned internal teams — accounts payable and accounts receivables teams are engaging with vendors and customers at the highest levels, and treasury is getting more involved in vendor and customer management.
Can you share your approach to this issue?
Shankar: To approach the challenge of cash forecasting during these times, we are preparing weekly cash flow forecasting apart from rolling 13 weeks to ensure that we are on top of the cash management.
Why did you decide to earn the CTP?
Shankar: There is no course or curriculum in college that teaches about treasury management, especially linked to international treasury practices. Most education is learned on job. For this reason, I felt a gap in my skillsets that needed to be bridged. The CTP designation fit perfectly here, and I enjoyed learning through the whole process of preparation.
How has the CTP credential impacted your life/career?
Shankar: Earning the CTP gave me immediate visibility among my peers and in my organization. The network contacts also provide a huge boost in my career path.
The network connections are spread across breadth of globe with experience across diverse industries. They are valuable source of information on both recent developments in treasury and potential career opportunities.
Would you recommend the CTP to others? Why?
Shankar: Yes, anyone who intends to take up a career in treasury management should pursue this designation. The learning and peer contacts associated with the CTP is lifelong.
Learn more about the Certified Treasury Professional (CTP) designation.