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Putting the Strategic Treasury Puzzle Together

  • By Fulvio Barbuio
  • Published: 3/9/2016
puzzlerThere are myriad opportunities for the right treasurer to aspire to a bigger and broader role in the organization, including in the C-suite. The question is, what does a treasurer need by way of technical and personal capabilities to bring this career journey to fruition? This article identifies the pieces of the strategic treasurer puzzle and puts them together to provide a roadmap.

Hard and soft skills

The treasurer needs a combination of hard and soft skills. Having a strategic impact will require the treasurer to support and defend positions and proposals from stringent review, not just by the CFO, but potentially other C-suite executives and their teams. So they will need excellent hard skills such as financial, analytical and modeling, as well as broader business and operational acumen.

However, this will not be in and of itself sufficient. They will also need to be able to persuade their colleagues to let them into business and operational areas and thereby begin to peer into the strategic tent. To do that, they need some well-honed and key soft skills, such as communications, assertiveness and leadership.

A multifaceted, fully stacked toolkit

As with any profession, treasurers are dependent on tools of the trade or capabilities to efficiently undertake their activities and thereby achieve success and deliver value to an organization. The strategic treasurer ideally requires a full suite of multifaceted tools to deliver superior core services effectively, but which will also free up time to focus on strategic value add activities.

In the broadest sense these could include, but are not limited to, internally focused tools such as a treasury management system (TMS), end-to-end process automation and treasury value reporting and modeling systems. From an externally sourced perspective, one could include financial markets environmental scanning systems, electronic bank account management (eBAM) capability, financial risk management products and funding advisory services.

An important facet in accessing and using these tools is the need to stay on top of constantly changing developments in this space and where appropriate and justified on a cost/benefit basis to take advantage and update the treasurer’s toolkit.

Additionally, tools of the trade must be accompanied by appropriate treasury staffing resources. Treasury staff must not only in deliver results but also connect with the rest of the organization, effectively communicating treasury policy and practices.

While the treasurer’s skillset, tools of trade and treasury staff are all vitally important to deliver strategic value, they will not find their mark unless the treasurer and team can deliver those results along with the right messaging to sell their strategic value. To do this, the treasurer needs to establish a strategic aura. This can be done by demonstrating the strategic value added unambiguously through quantifying past performance and cause and effect, and then by projecting and modeling future strategic value add treasury initiatives.

The treasurer can also enhance this aura by being a willing partner to business units, being always available, adding strategic value in business interactions and bringing a strategic lens to all treasury activities. In many respects, these messaging attributes are as much about a mindset around how treasury views its role and how it engages with the rest of the organization to enhance strategic value.

The complete picture
Putting all the strategic treasurer puzzle pieces together paints a picture of an executive that possesses a vast array of hard and soft skills, has a multifaceted toolkit and skilled staff, and understands how to sell their accomplishments. A treasurer with these attributes will become an influencer that has delivered a strategic dividend to the organization and has potentially set themselves up for the C-suite.

So what’s holding you back?

Fulvio Barbuio is head corporate treasury and risk for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

The opinions of the author are his own and do not represent those of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

A longer version of this article will appear in a future edition of AFP Exchange.
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