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What is a Treasurer?
Treasury is not like law or accounting: there is no training or degree that specifically prepares graduates for a position in this area of the company. Rather, one grows into these tasks or can later further educate oneself through special courses.
Even if treasury is not immediately familiar to everyone and therefore not the first thing that comes to mind for many as an area of activity, it is an extensive and exciting area of work in which you get to know the company and its business very well. Because a treasurer is like a spider in a spider’s web: He works with almost all departments of the company – accounting, accounting, accounts receivable, accounts payable, purchasing, sales, taxes (dividends, transfer pricing), IT. Networking is therefore extremely important, especially for liquidity and foreign currency management.
The larger and more international a company is, the more difficult it is to have an overview of its financial relationships and to ensure liquidity. As a rule, different banks, a large number of accounts and often different currencies are involved. This requires an expert who controls the banking and financing transactions.
Risk observer with great responsibility
The following rule of thumb applies: If a company is active in different countries or if it generates sales in the hundreds of millions, it needs a treasury expert. At nationally active companies, treasury managers tend to be the exception — except for real estate dealers, since they operate with a lot of capital, or for fast-growing companies. In smaller companies, on the other hand, the treasury function is often located in accounting, since it usually includes daily deposits and payment transactions.
A treasurer must ensure that the company’s capital needs are met at all times and that it can pay all of its bills on time and in full. In addition, it is his job to identify and minimize risks that may arise in interest or currency issues or in connection with accounts and powers of disposal. Here in particular there are an enormous number of points at which the treasurer has to recognize and assess the development on his own responsibility and, if necessary, react. Some examples:
- Europe: Around 20 different currencies have been replaced by the euro. While everything looked stable at first, this stability began to falter with the financial crisis (and, for example, the crisis in Greece). If a company has (a) branch(s) there, it is up to the treasurer to assess what to do with the capital in the regional accounts. How high is the risk? The Brexit also affects Treasury. When it is completed, the UK will no longer be part of the EU and the question will be: does our company have accounts there? And if so: do we leave the capital there or do we prefer to transfer it to Europe?
- Negative interest rates in Europe: Since interest rates in Europe have now reached negative territory, it can make sense to convert the cash pool to dollars, for example, since these have a positive interest rate.
- Accounts: Large companies in particular (especially in the case of many takeovers or mergers) often have a few accounts that are no longer used and can be closed (cost savings, risk). In some cases there is still money in the accounts that is not recorded in the accounts, or there are authorized signatories who no longer work in the company (risk minimization).
- Digitization: Due to the increasing digitization of all processes, companies are working with more and more systems and interacting with more and more banks. In this context, security gaps and authorization issues need to be clarified and checked: Who has access to which accounts (electronic banking)? Who can view or prepare which files?
The most important things in 5 seconds
- Education: Completed apprenticeship or degree in economics, finance and accounting, banking or similar.
- Starting salary: €50,000
- Top salary: €110,000
- Opportunities for advancement: Head of Treasury, Head of Finance
What does a treasurer do?
Exactly which tasks a company places in the area of treasury is just as different as the degree of organizational freedom or independent decision-making power. In all cases, however, the treasurer bears a high level of responsibility, which is why his importance within the company is increasing.
- Implementation of the company’s treasury strategy (cash management, banking, financing, cash pooling, cash flow analysis, interest rate and currency management)
- Management, planning and monitoring of liquidity
- Group-wide internal contact for cash and liquidity management
- responsible for the monthly, quarterly and annual financial statements of the Treasury department
- Independent implementation and monitoring of payment transactions
- if necessary, support for intercompany financial relationships
- organizational structures (bank details, account concentration, bank clearing, electronic banking)
- letters of credit, guarantees
- Independent management and implementation of treasury IT projects
How does one become a treasurer?
It is hardly possible for career starters to work directly as a treasurer after graduation. Rather, such a position is more likely to be held by people who already have several years of professional experience. However, this does not necessarily have to have taken place in the treasury environment. Career changers from another financial area or the consulting environment are also frequently sought-after applicants for the position of treasurer.
If you want to work as a treasurer, you should have a high level of interest and a solid basic knowledge of business and finance, as well as certain soft skills and personal qualities. In addition, the following skills are usually required:
- Completed training or degree in economics, finance and accounting, banking or similar.
- several years of relevant work experience
- solid knowledge of MS Office
- Very good to business fluent German and English language skills
What does a Treasurer earn?
up to €110,000
The gross annual salary of a treasurer ranges between € 50,000 and €110,000. How much a treasurer actually earns depends – as always – on the exact tasks he takes on. And that can be very different depending on the company: Basically, the treasurer is responsible for cash and liquidity management as well as financing. However, depending on the company structure, related topics such as tax aspects, organizational areas, IT projects or the like may also belong to the responsibility of a treasurer – or not.
Significant factors influencing one’s own salary are personal initiative and specialization: Those who proactively recognize and avoid risks will certainly improve their negotiating position in salary negotiations. In addition, the importance of digital technologies and programs in treasury is steadily increasing. This offers employees the opportunity, for example, to specialize here and thus expand their own area of responsibility and role in the company.
What do you expect from the Treasurer?
Treasurers are open and communicative personalities who are interested in many topics and like to continuously educate themselves or follow current developments in certain subject areas. They are tinkerers — people who ponder a problem until they come up with a reasonable solution. Because that’s what treasury is all about: There is a known or unknown problem that needs to be identified first and then solved.
The treasurer has to be creative and incorporate various aspects into his solution strategy. However, there is usually not much time for this: the solution usually has to be available quickly, since the problem usually has a direct impact on the business (usually sales).
Applicants should also have the following qualities in order to be able to cope with the demands of a treasurer’s day-to-day work:
- analytical talent and understanding
- independent, structured and precise way of working
- Teamwork and communication skills
- flexibility and resilience
- basic technical understanding and interest
Opportunities for advancement as Treasurer
As a treasurer, the way to the top — i.e. to the board of directors or the management of a company — is rather the exception. On the contrary, good treasurers will be promoted to head of treasury of a large international corporation and lead a team of treasury specialists. Depending on the corporate culture and structure, a development to Head of Finance is also conceivable.
Since the treasurer is located very centrally in the company and comes into contact with many departments and topics, side steps into other financial areas are also possible. What is particularly interesting is the presumably qualitative change in the treasury area: It can be assumed that treasury will become even more the focus of companies and will cover even more task areas in the future. This increases the importance of the position in the group and thus also the salary perspective.
The job market in treasury will probably not change significantly compared to today: Good specialists are few and far between and accordingly in demand and will remain so. However, in the future there will probably not be a need for more treasurers on the market, since this area – in contrast to departments such as bookkeeping or accounting – is not growing adequately to the company.
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