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Treasury career, a long life of learning

The treasury function is dangerous and riskier than other. No one could contest the inherent risks of such a job. A single mistake could have dramatic consequences on his/her career, despite huge successes, great achievements and even excellent track records. That’s the sad side of a treasurers’ life. The bright side is the exciting and challenging role he/she plays. Behind any risk there is a potential mistake, and behind any mistake a potential risk of having his/her career suddenly “killed”. Treasury is a profession more at risk than others as accountant or controller. A simple mistake may always have potential negative cash impact. Furthermore, treasury role has heavily evolved over last decade, since the Global Financial Crisis and keep changing with a profound digital transformation. Such a tough context is challenging. It must encourage treasurers to remain “employable” (see my previous articles on this subject as “They shoot treasurers’ don’t’ they?”). The treasurer, when she/he is getting older, as any financial professional, faces more risks of losing his/her job.

We should all work on remaining employable during our professional life. Some of our peers could wonder why keeping learning (having a solid starting background), despite our acquired and growing experience? We should continue learning because the world is changing and as stated: “the older, the riskier our career becomes”. Increasing risks with age seem to be paradoxical given the growing experience and practical expertise acquired. However, with age, a financial professional is facing increasing risks of becoming “too old”, “obsolete” or “not something enough”. On top of these risks, your company may always face a merger, restructuring or dismantlement sometime with damageable consequences for jobs.

There are ways to prevent such risks and to mitigate them. The first piece of advice is to buy an insurance policy and to pay a premium named “networking”. Even if the premium is more expensive overtime, we hope not being obliged to exercise it. This investment should be developed and maintained. Similarly,training and education programs can be part of this “insurance policy” and career investment. It is even more essential as with seniority (when we passed a certain), other professional opportunities will decline. The learning curve during a financial career is often flattening with age. Even though it should remain an upward curve until 67. Do you remember the last time you got a certification? If it is more than three years, it is far too long.

Automation and technologies are changing the skills needed in different occupations. All this resulted in the “half-life of knowledge” (i.e. the time it takes for half the knowledge to be superseded). According to a recent DELOITTE survey, this half- life of knowledge is estimated at roughly 5 years. It is very short. Have you noticed that in some dynamic companies, they have hired “CLO” (i.e. Chief Learning Officers”)? It demonstrates the importance of a lifelong learning approach adopted by MNC’s for their executives to keep them“employable”. According to specialists the vocational training is becoming more important than even academic qualifications.

Treasury is a sort of long corridor with closing doors. Treasurers are hyper specialists, a bit too conservative and sedentary, and

often reactive rather than proactive. Treasurers are often working their whole professional life in “treasury”, which can be perceived as stiffening up (even if it is a simple perception). Treasury careers are long and complicate journeys. As Philippe Gabilliet said: “chance is an asset you can work on”. You can learn, discover new techniques, look for opportunities, make good meetings and open windows to maximize your chances. Let expend your boundaries during your career and try to discover new horizons. Remain vigilant and avoid routine, while preparing your mindset. Although broader your remittances and range of activities will increase further risk faced to lose your shirt. Unfortunately, we are never enough protected against unforeseen surprises. Think about what you could do because as the saying reminds us: “the worse is never certain”.

Therefore, treasurers must stay on alert mode, cautious, prepared for bad news and not only for good ones. Treasurers are at risk although there have been hired to manage company risks. They often forget to manage their own ones. Treasurers should always work on employability at any price. That’s the best way to mitigate the inherent risks a treasurer face.


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