The need to measure the competence of treasurer candidates

We often hear Senior Treasurers complain that it is difficult, if not impossible, even with a few technical questions during a job interview, to accurately assess a candidate's knowledge. Same situation when you want to assess treasury knowledge of some of your treasury team members. This is a problem that can be solved with tests that allow for an accurate and inexpensive assessment of skills. Why do without?

How do you measure a candidate's competence for a treasury position?

It is always difficult to assess the skills of a candidate to a job of treasurer, during a job interview. Indeed, it is already difficult to select them as a person. So, adding the technical aspect is sometimes complicated. Is it the head of treasury's job to accurately measure the finance skills of the candidate, or worse, the candidates (if you have a short list of few), in order to decide between them who is the best? It is therefore easier and simpler to outsource this part to experienced third parties who have measurement tools. This enables you to focus and concentrate on the person and his/her personality, as well as his/her overall experience. The more circumspect have created internal tests to measure candidate competencies. Although it takes time to keep them updated. They remain specific and do not offer benchmarking.

Testing competencies takes time

Testing the competence of candidates is time consuming, energy consuming, resource consuming and only relative. Moreover, Human Resources departments already outsource tests to third parties. For example, the psychological tests are often outsourced to specialists with online tests. And it works well, isn’t it? The ideal solution would be a general treasury test, easy to do from home and when the candidate wants to do it. It allows to measure the degree of competence according to the score, but also to compare it to his/her peers, to situate the candidate in relation to the others. Is the candidate good or average compared to his/her peers? Is he/she as good overall as he/she claims to be? How can we be sure of his or her general and specific skills, quickly, inexpensively, and objectively? Moreover, such tests could be used for team members whose potential and already acquired treasury knowledge. In these cases, the objective would be measure and control the employee’s knowledge. It would be to establish the potential in a more objective way, before a promotion, a transfer, etc.. These are the questions I often hear from our members and treasurers. Fortunately, there are interesting and easy to implement solutions, at low cost. So why do without them? Who wouldn't want an additional objective element to guarantee the quality of the future treasury recruitment? Nobody, of course.

Idea of a general online questionnaire

The concept is eventually simple. There is at least one company (maybe more) that has established a simple, general, easy to fill out remote test for a very reasonable fixed price and a pittance compared to the amount of salary at stake. The advantage is neutrality, professionalism, low cost, and the ability to compare a candidate with 5 years of experience, for example, to other treasurers with similar experience. The test is such that it can be applied to any treasurer. The results of course will vary upon the expertise, experience, and knowledge of the respondents. It is obvious that the score of a senior is in principle better than that of a junior. But it is still necessary to estimate whether the junior is well positioned in relation to his or her peers. Therein lies the difficulty. Moreover, isn't it more interesting to have an external opinion from specialists if the cost is limited than to launch oneself into tests with the establishment of a questionnaire, standard answers, corrections, controls, etc.? It is obvious that we do not recruit every day. Therefore, a fortiori, the use of a proven test validated by cash flow professionals provides a significant additional assurance to any recruiter. Good news, solutions exist. There is at least one that I can recommend (

The right choice

I could no longer hire a treasurer, no matter how old and how experienced, without using such a test to ensure that I am making the right choice and that the person is good (or as good as he/she claims). You should try such an approach to see if your candidate has the required qualities. Treasury is a complex subject that is not taught in universities. Therefore, it remains very difficult to assess the technical knowledge of treasurer candidates, regardless of their degrees. The idea of an independent test is therefore, in my opinion, an excellent way of giving oneself the comfort of a decision before hiring a candidate. I would not want to end this analysis without quoting two American authors. "If you think it's expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur" (Red Adair, American oil well firefighter) and "People are not your most important asset. The right people are" (Jim Collins, Author of Good to Great). Aren't these valuable tips to keep in mind?

François Masquelier, CEO Simply Treasury Luxembourg October 2021

Disclaimer: This article was prepared by François Masquelier in his personal capacity. The opinion expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the view of the European Association of Corporate Treasurers (i.e., EACT).