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Profile in Leadership: Building Treasury from the Ground Up

  • By Nilly Essaides
  • Published: 1/26/2016
skillsWith an advanced degree in clinical psychology and experience as a martial arts instructor, it’s no surprise that Steve Rosenthal emphasizes leadership as global treasurer and managing director for Broadridge, a $3-billion company that was spun off from ADP in 2007.

In fact, Rosenthal was recruited into his finance career by a managing director at Bear Stearns, who observed and liked his martial arts coaching style. “He said they needed more people like me at the bank,” Rosenthal recalled. He was quickly offered a position in the management training program and rotated through every department in the broker/dealer operations of the bank. Today, Rosenthal oversees treasury operations for a company that provides investor communications, technology solutions, post-trade processing platforms and business process outsourcing.

When Rosenthal eventually rotated into treasury, he found a new home. “I had an incredible interest in treasury,” he said. “I’ve always had interest in markets and economics, and how cash moves, as far back as high school.”

Rosenthal started with credit structures and cash management and eventually took over the firm’s entire LOC portfolio, supporting its large futures business and exchange-related activity. “After experiencing the various aspects of treasury, I knew this is the career path I wanted to follow,” he said.

From Bear Stearns, Rosenthal moved to Morgan Stanley where he headed a large group tasked with understanding the firm’s internal clients’ needs. “My role was to create the bridges between treasury and internal business units,” he said. That team later became Global Bank Services.

When the opportunity arose in 2007 to join Broadridge, Rosenthal was torn. He loved his work at Morgan Stanley. Yet Broadridge offered him a chance to build treasury from the ground up. He admitted that was both exciting and risky. “Every treasury professional has gone through times when he or she thought they could or would have done things differently,” he said. “This role gave me the opportunity to do it thoughtfully and objectively and make an incredible impact. It’s an opportunity every senior treasury professional should take if presented to them. It changes you as a leader.”

Leading through empathy

Rosenthal began leading teams when he first started at Bear Stearns. “My training in psychology was incredibly valuable to my role and growth as a leader,” he said. “I’m a behaviorist. I observe people to help me develop my management style. Successful managers must have a great degree of empathy.”

He quickly found that there’s not a single management style that fits all. “I sought to understand each individual and his/her motivation,” he said, likening his management style to coaching. “It’s about putting each player where he or she would be the most successful based on their mindset and skills.”

Rosenthal believes his biggest challenge—and for all finance leaders—is learning how to manage the new generation of finance professionals. With Millennials coming in, things have changed. “As managers we need to acknowledge this,” he said. “Life used to be something that fit into work,” he said. Today, “work is something that needs to fit into life, especially with younger people.” Thus, as senior managers, “we must consider innovative ideas of how work requirements may fit into our staff’s life if we want to retain the best talent. At the end of the day, that’s what we all want: the best talent combined into a positive culture.”

Rosenthal added that he has two sons, and he views the treasury department at Broadridge as his third child. “It’s 9 years old, and I can’t wait to see how it will look when it’s all grown up,” he said. Looking forward, he sees treasury remaining a vital part of his professional life. “In general, I’ve found that professionals who have been exposed to treasury become ‘lifers’ in some way, shape or form,” he noted. “Treasury includes so many exciting aspects. There’s always something that draws us back to that exposure. It gets in your blood.”

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