The twin challenges of being a people manager and handling essential cross function communications have always added to the technical and strategic demands of being a treasurer – and these have become more difficult with COVID and remote working. This report explores the approaches of five senior treasurers from Europe.
The peer group discussion was chaired by Damian Glendinning.
This report was compiled by Monie Lindsey.
This session was suggested by a member, and produced a thoughtful discussion. The twin challenges of being a people manager and handling essential cross function communications have always added to the technical and strategic demands of being a treasurer – and these have become more difficult with COVID and remote working.
The shared input from all participants was that we have put a lot more effort into communications. When you don’t see people in the office all the time, you have to make the effort to pick up the phone and talk to them. The result has been an even greater emphasis on communications skills – and it is even harder to motivate and support employees who are working in different countries, as it is very hard to go and visit them. These skills are required, not only within the team, but when dealing with other functions such as Sales, and external providers, like banks.
A lot of emphasis was put on the ability to keep things simple, and avoid confusing partners with technical jargon.
Initially, the impact of the pandemic was to reduce staff mobility, and cause people to stay in their jobs for longer. This is now giving way to increased mobility, and the need to hire and train people without physically meeting them. This has placed an even greater emphasis on the quality of procedures and process documentation. It has also led to an increase in remote learning, and, potentially, increased the available talent pool, since geographic proximity may no longer be required.
Finally, there was a lot of discussion about areas where the pandemic has simply accelerated trends which were already present – notably an increase in automation, and a reduction in the amount of manual transaction processing work. Again, this has resulted in an even greater emphasis on analytic and communications skills, with a reduced focus on operational ability. As an aside, there was a discussion about whether treasury staff still need to actually understand how the underlying systems work.
Bottom line: the pandemic has accelerated trends which already existed: more remote working and learning, more automation. This has put even more emphasis on the need to communicate well, especially as the phone and videoconferencing, while they have undoubtedly saved us, make communications more difficult. The result is a need to put in more effort, and spend more time on it. Paradoxically, this may even prove to be beneficial.