Interview Pieter De Kiewit (TreasuryXL): treasury assessment

Pieter De Kiewit, Recruitment Consultant and Business Owner accepted to answer François Masquelier's questions. Interview.

Pieter, could you explain this concept of your treasury assessment questionnaire and your objectives?

In my over two decades of experience in recruitment of treasurers I constantly hear “our treasurer leaves, we do not know exactly what she does but can you find us a new one?”. Our research shows that over 50% of the hiring managers (HR and CFOs) do not understand the position in detail. Further research shows that under 20% of the treasury population has a dedicated treasury qualification. So how do you know the candidate you might hire brings what it takes?

Together with several industry partners, our goal is to offer a tool that objectively measures the treasury qualities of a person and that is available to anyone interested.

We created the Treasurer Test, an on-line assessment. There are two components in the Treasurer Test. The first part is a treasury questionnaire measuring knowledge and skills in four subcategories: cash, risk, corporate finance and miscellaneous. Results are compared with and projected upon a benchmark of treasurers who already completed the Treasurer Test before. The second part is a Big5 personality assessment of which the results are compared with a “general” population and a “treasury” population.

Corporate treasury is a constantly changing job type, so the Treasurer Test is evolving too. We are about to launch the improved second version. A mathematician studied the test results so far and came up with an improved approach. Furthermore, global industry and academic experts contributed by sending in up-to-date questions. So, the Treasurer Test will cover all international aspects of corporate treasury even better.

I guess that this questionnaire can also be used by a head of treasury or a CFO to assess competencies of some of their treasury team members, isn’t it?

Indeed, by now we have seen the Treasurer Test being used by companies assessing their treasury team. With the results they could design their recruitment and development plan. Other uses include career counseling, and educators wanting to assess the skills of potential students. In the labor market we also see candidates taking the Treasurer Test on their own initiative, including the results in their applications.

Why did you include a personality assessment in the Treasurer Test?

For a variety of reasons. In general, we see an increasing number of employers including these assessments in their recruitment process and benefiting, for example in finding the better cultural match. We also know that skill requirements, most certainly in corporate treasury, are changing quickly. So, hiring upon current skills might be important, but you also want to know if a candidate will acquire new skills. The Treasurer Test results showing a personality scoring high on “forward-looking” or “innovative” is a solid indicator somebody wants to acquire new skills. Lastly, we see that extra successful treasurers can connect with their in- and external stakeholders better than others. So good scores on traits like “makes contact” or “empathy” are increasingly important.

There are many personalities and other assessments available in the market based upon a variety of models. We made a conscious choice for one of the few that is scientifically accepted: Big5. Also, here the candidate is compared, in this case to “general population” and “treasurers who took the Treasurer Test”. Currently we cannot say yet but, in the future, we might have statistically proven information to make statements like “compared to general population the candidate is average in flexibility but compared to other treasurers the candidate is very flexible”.

Pieter De Kiewit: François, how do you see such questionnaires as Treasury Association? Is it useful for your members?

At ATEL we do support such initiatives and like the Treasurer Testquestionnaire. We endorsed your initiative because it was a demand from our members. When a Head of Treasury or a CFO is recruiting treasury officers, it is often difficult to assess his/her expertise, skills, and knowledge in an area where, we all know it, no universities are teaching. We must regret that treasury is not an area addressed by business schools. We treasurers learn our job by practicing and keep learning during our whole career. It explains the important role of Treasury Associations in education and training of their members. ATEL organizes treasury courses with the House of Training in Luxembourg and is launching soon its Treasury Master Classes, to contribute to the education of its members. It is also essential in a function that is in perpetual evolution for the last two decades, and which will continue evolving, with an increasing scope over time. Therefore, such assessment questionnaire, with benchmark, enables senior managers to make sure they are selecting the best talents in treasury, and they can also assess the potential and missing pieces in the knowledge of their teammates to make them progress in their finance career. Our members are all extremely busy by the day-to-day job and usually do not have time to produce themselves these types of questionnaires and to assess the skills of candidates for a function in their team. It explains why ATEL recommend such tests to ensure perfect recruitment.

ATEL Interview – August 2021 - Luxembourg