CTP Profile: From the Back Office to Head of Treasury for the Largest Bank in Africa

  • By AFP Staff
  • Published: 5/15/2023
Skyline of Manama

When Mahmood Radhi, CTP, graduated from college, he headed into the back office of the treasury department of The Arab Investment Company. “Being in such an entry-level position enabled me to learn the whole cycle of treasury’s deal processing, as well as its relevant stockholders, both internal and external,” he said.

After some years in the treasury back office, Mahmood was promoted to MM & FX Assistant Manager of the Trading Desk (the Dealing Room), where he assisted senior treasury professionals while gaining treasury and dealing skills. “I traded many treasury products during my career, from basic MM deposits and REPOs to sophisticated derivatives and other hedging and speculating products/techniques,” said Mahmood.

Mahmood held ever-increasingly senior positions with a host of banks from Citibank to Head of Treasury for the Bank of Khartoum, the largest bank in Sudan, before landing his current role as Managing Director for Beacon FinTrain in Bahrain.

What his day-to-day looks like

Mahmood RadhiManaging relationships is a key aspect of his job, as it relates to FIs/banks and corporates. This is important to ensure a win-win exchange. Mahmood also oversees financial reporting and compliance. “Treasury is connected to many other stakeholders within the organization, e.g., compliance, risk management, operations, IT, finance, so having proper and timely reporting makes the daily work run smoothly,” he said.

What traits does Mahmood credit with his daily success? “Patience, discipline and persistence,” he said, adding, “You need to focus on which way the market winds are blowing and understand how to manage the risk.”

Cash management is critical to bank survival

Of all the critical issues facing treasury today, Mahmood cited cash management as the most pressing for him. “Cash management sounds basic, but I’ve seen how critical it is to a bank’s survival,” he said.

Once the cash is managed prudently, Mahmood said it’s easier to manage other treasury mandates and products. “The recent collapse of banks such as SVB and Credit Suisse are the freshest examples,” he said.

Asked how he is handling cash management for his organization, Mahmood said that monitoring the liquidity gap is key. “I focus on my funding/gapping screens in order to give feedback to guide traders on their investment proposals,” he said. “That way they know how it may impact the bank’s daily cash flow and its ability to meet financial obligations when due.”

Skills to build on, steps to take

Mahmood said that treasury is a very sophisticated area that requires continued self-development to ensure competency. Given that fact, there are soft skills in particular that he intends to build upon in the next couple of years including finding a balance between optimism and realism and persistence. Mahmood also feels it is important for treasurers to be proficient at reading the market and its trends, which also requires good risk management skills, both of which he wants to build on, all while remaining cost-conscious.

“Treasury is strongly related to the aforementioned skills and the way the trading book is managed,” he said. “For example, when you buy a currency for the purpose of speculation, you need to have the right authority and tools to manage the position from an optimistic but also realistic point of view.”

Accordingly, it’s important to keep up with the latest technological updates and advancements in treasury management systems said Mahmood, both of which can help treasurers better manage their daily responsibilities, from calculating the cash position to researching and reconciling exception items. “Anything that can help treasurers more efficiently do their job is of real interest to me,” he said.

Two major career challenges

Mahmood encountered two big challenges in the middle of his career journey. The first came from a company that needed to overhaul its treasury policy and procedures; they turned to him to review everything. The second was another company establishing an international banking branch in Bahrain for which they needed to create a treasury department — from scratch — and again, Mahmood was in charge.

“The size of the projects and level of responsibility was very high,” said Mahmood. Normally, mandates and tasks such as these require an FSP or professional consultants to achieve the best outcomes. But he dove in and started searching for the best sources and materials that would enable him to accomplish what should have been done by an experienced treasurer. Over the course of his search, Mahmood came across the CTP program.

Certifying his experience

With more than 24 years of experience under his belt, Mahmood earned the CTP designation. “Earning the CTP was a great decision,” said Mahmood. “It essentially certified my decades of experience, further demonstrated to others that I am a professional in the field of treasury, and, at the same time, it keeps me updated on current trends and best practices in treasury.”

He said he also appreciates the fact that AFP’s CTP sets the standard for the treasury profession and is a global symbol of excellence. “I saw firsthand how challenging it [earing the CTP] is,” he said. “It requires effort and dedication to be earned.”

Some of the challenges Mahmood said he experienced in the process of earning the CTP were akin to real life, real pressures of the job. He said that gaining the CTP requires candidates to manage their time properly in order to prepare for the exam. And that during the exam, there is a time management challenge where you need to answer the questions in a set amount of time per question. If you cannot, then you must go on to the other questions and then come back to those you’ve flagged. “Such a challenge allows candidates to simulate the real-life pressures of decision-making on the job,” said Mahmood.

Mahmood said that earning the CTP differentiated him from the crowd and that he learned many skills and techniques, as well as having polished his experience in treasury management in general. “Accordingly, I was able to climb the ladder and be a Head of Treasury in various international banks during my career,” he said. He further credits the CTP with helping him to become an active executive member in the banks he worked with, especially ALCO and other risk committees, and an active member at the Bahrain Association of Banks (BAB), on both the treasurer committee and the international banking committee.

Additionally, “The requirements to recertify push treasury professionals to maintain their competencies via continuous personal and professional development,” he said.

Recommended to every level of the profession

Mahmood said he would strongly recommend the CTP to others at every level of the profession, whether you are just starting out, or a seasoned senior executive, like him. “For those with basic experience, the CTP will ensure they do things right; it creates a bridge between theory and practice. For senior-level professionals, the CTP will help align their experience with best practices and help them to certify their experience.”

Ready to join the ranks of treasury professionals around the world who have earned the gold standard in treasury? Start your journey to becoming a Certified Treasury Professional (CTP) today.

Copyright © 2024 Association for Financial Professionals, Inc.
All rights reserved.