A keen financial mind and an understanding of an organisations day-to-day business demands are key to the role of a corporate treasurer

As a corporate treasurer, you will play an important role in improving or maintaining the financial health and success of a business. You could be responsible for:

  • determining financial strategy and policy;
  • advising on what businesses to invest in;
  • arranging appropriate funding;
  • managing financial risks in an organisation.

This is a varied and responsible role that ensures a company has the capital to meet its obligations, involving raising funds from banks, as well as debt and equity markets and, in some companies, actively trading in the foreign exchange, commodity and money markets.

Other activities may involve dealing with property, taxation, insurance and pensions.

Responsibilities

There are five core treasury functions that you could specialise in as a treasury professional, as defined by The Association of Corporate Treasurers (ACT). These are:

  • capital markets and funding;
  • cash and liquidity management;
  • corporate financial management;
  • risk management;
  • treasury operations and controls.

Within these functions typical work activities may involve:

  • managing daily cash balances and trading in the financial markets;
  • ensuring that a company's cash flow is adequate to allow it to operate effectively;
  • forecasting cash payments and anticipating challenges arising from limited cash flow;
  • undertaking risk management activities to protect a company's financial well-being;
  • analysing the impact of financial markets on the performance of products or services;
  • making decisions on company finances, for example, the funding of company operations;
  • progressing specific financial projects, such as acquisition of another business;
  • evaluating the financial impact of new business ventures;
  • negotiating loan or overdraft terms with company bankers;
  • creating solutions to new financial challenges by applying financial or treasury knowledge;
  • liaising with other departments, such as tax and accountancy, on a range of issues;
  • providing advice on financial matters impacting on the company as a whole;
  • taking responsibility for, and supervising the work of, more junior members of staff;
  • liaising with bankers and investors and maintaining positive working relationships;
  • keeping up to date with financial and industry developments;
  • attending board and senior management meetings;
  • making presentations to the company board on specific financial issues.

Salary

  • Graduates entering corporate treasury at assistant or junior level can earn a starting salary of £25,000 to £35,000, increasing to £40,000 to £50,000 for starters above graduate level.
  • Salaries for professionals with several years' experience range from £50,000 to £75,000.
  • Typical salaries in senior positions depend on the company, complexity of treasury operation, and location, but range from £65,000 to figures in excess of £150,000.

For corporate treasurers with professional qualifications and sufficient experience, there are opportunities for self-employment in consultancy or in interim management during times of change or crisis in a company. Average rates are between £300 and £1,000 per day.

Salaries generally tend to be higher in London and the South East. They also vary according to the type of role occupied within a treasury department. Bonuses and benefits packages are also usually provided.

Income figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

Work is generally Monday to Friday with standard office hours, though these are often subject to extension during busy periods for meeting project deadlines and attending meetings.

Part-time roles are extremely rare.

What to expect

  • The job is office based but frequent visits to company sites and meetings with external organisations may occur.
  • You would usually be based in the head office of a company, so opportunities can arise anywhere in the UK, although there is a strong concentration in London and the South East.
  • Only companies of a certain size need corporate treasury, so opportunities tend to be within larger organisations.
  • Treasury has traditionally been male dominated. However, the ACT student membership profile indicates an increase in the number of women potentially entering the profession.
  • The job may be stressful at times and carries considerable responsibility.
  • Business dress is usually required, particularly for meetings with City contacts, such as company bankers. Otherwise, dress will depend upon the culture of the company.
  • There may be occasional travel to meetings and possible overseas travel, particularly if the company has international interests or is multinational; these would tend to be short, planned trips.

Qualifications

This area of work is open to graduates from most academic backgrounds, but business or finance-related degrees are most relevant. The following degrees subjects might be useful:

  • accountancy;
  • business studies;
  • economics;
  • finance;
  • mathematics.

Entry with an HND or foundation degree alone is highly unlikely.

A Masters in a financial or management-related subject would give you an insight into areas such as treasury, and may give you an edge over other candidates.

Entry tends to be competitive due to the limited number of direct-entry graduate training roles.

Corporate treasurers, and other financial professionals, who require knowledge of treasury management (for example, accountants or public sector financiers) take examinations administered by the ACT.

The key ACT professional qualifications are the Certificate in Treasury Fundamentals (CertTf), Certificate in Treasury (CertT), Diploma in Treasury Management (DipTM) and the MCT Advanced Diploma. The ACT also offers the Certificate in International Cash Management and the Award in Cash Management Fundamentals and these are often relevant to those who work in financial institutions and banks who provide cash management solutions for corporate customers. Employers may provide funding and time off to study for these examinations.

Working towards professional qualifications as soon as possible may be helpful to career development.

Skills

You will need to show:

  • strong interpersonal and communication skills, for liaising with senior management, operational staff and company bankers and investors;
  • good numeracy and analytical skills as well as IT literacy;
  • an interest in the financial markets and how they operate;
  • excellent attention to detail and accuracy, for dealing with company funds and managing substantial contracts and capital projects.

Work experience

Having some evidence of relevant work experience will enhance your job applications, as it is important to be familiar with the nature and demands of the job.

Specialist financial recruitment agencies can be a source of permanent and temporary opportunities. Becoming a member of the ACT will be helpful and will get you networking early on to build up contacts.

Employers

The increasing complexity of the financial instruments that are integral to managing modern companies, combined with the major changes in accountancy standards, has led to a growth in demand for corporate treasurers in all industries. Financial institutions also offer more specialist treasury opportunities.

Corporate treasury is a role that is likely to continue to grow in breadth and responsibility in the future. While most companies need to perform some treasury functions, they must also be of a sufficient size to warrant and support their own treasury department.

Corporate treasurers are likely to work in the head offices of large companies in the private sector, many of which are based in London or the South East.

However, you can also find treasury specialists in the public sector, including central and local government, health and education and the larger charities.

Experienced treasury professionals may also join management consultancies and advise clients on improving their cash management, capital raising and risk management procedures.

The size of treasury departments varies in extremes from company to company. A large company will have anything from three to 50 treasury staff, while a medium-sized company would usually have between one and five.

The number of treasury staff employed by a company can depend on the complexity of their transactions and on the level of international activity.

Most aspiring treasurers will join as graduate recruits in the finance divisions of medium to large companies and multinationals where the training programme may include placements across several specialised functions, for example:

  • audit;
  • financial and management accounting;
  • financial reporting;
  • taxation;
  • treasury.

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Professional development

Corporate treasurers usually undertake training for professional qualifications such as the AMCT Diploma in Treasury offered by the ACT.

It is the ACT's core treasury qualification and delivers understanding and knowledge of the essential topics within treasury, risk and corporate finance. It includes four written exams covering the following topics:

  • financial management and accounting;
  • economics and statistical analysis;
  • corporate taxation;
  • business law.

For further information, see the ACT's AMCT Diploma in Treasury.

The ACT also offers the MCT Advanced Diploma in Treasury, Risk and Corporate Finance. This diploma is especially useful if you aspire to hold a senior position. It is pitched at an MBA level and is the UK's only professional qualification in treasury management.

Keeping up to date with developments in accounting and treasury is an essential part of the job. The breadth of many corporate treasury roles and the demands of increasing legislation can make this challenging but gaining membership with somewhere like the ACT may help.

The Treasurer magazine is published monthly by the ACT and is available as an online subscription. This is a very good source of information on current developments.

Career prospects

Career development is very much your own responsibility. Treasurers liaise with many departments in and outside of their own companies, so there is potential to branch out into other financial areas.

There are a range of opportunities within a variety of companies. Look out for companies that are developing quickly, as they are likely to offer more long-term career development options.

Specific challenges to career progression may lie in the nature of the company and its treasury department, as well as the particular needs of the company.

There are not as many jobs in treasuries as there are in other areas of finance. If a department is small, opportunities to progress may be limited. It may be necessary to take a position in another company in order to progress or to increase knowledge and experience. This could require a move to another part of the country, so mobility and flexibility can be helpful.

From more junior roles as a treasury assistant or analyst, treasury professionals may progress to more specialised roles, perhaps as treasury manager in:

  • corporate finance;
  • liquidity management;
  • risk management.

With sufficient experience and qualifications, you may be able to progress to the position of group treasurer and even very senior roles such as director of finance or chief financial officer (CFO).

Alternatively, some experienced and qualified treasurers may progress to other senior financial positions on the basis of their knowledge of accounting, tax and administration.

Companies not large enough to support a treasury function might consider applicants who have a treasury background and qualifications from the ACT for senior financial posts.