Depending on your point of view, it’s an exciting time to work in treasury management. Or a scary time. (Or a bit of both!)
What used to be a fairly routine job now offers a range of new opportunities, thanks to rapid innovations in payments and technology. Nearly every treasury function can now occur electronically. Transactions can settle instantly. APIs, robotic process automation (RPA), artificial intelligence, and other advances are fundamentally changing the nature of financial work.
Add to this disruption the changing demographics of the U.S. workforce, and it’s no wonder treasury professionals may feel a bit dizzy. Most businesses now employ four different generations, from tenured Baby Boomers to the interns and recent college grads of Gen Z.
In fact, in 2020 the Millennial generation (born 1981 to 1996) will comprise at least half of those currently employed.1 Already, this outsized, tech-savvy group is transforming workplace norms. At the same time, the “brain drain” among experienced treasury staff is accelerating. Every day, approximately 10,000 Baby Boomers turn age 65, the typical age for retirement.
The bottom line? The change within treasury is real. It’s time to be proactive rather than reactive to it.
Treasury’s next opportunity: Talent
While most companies have detailed technology roadmaps to master automation, and cross-functional initiatives to adopt faster payments, far fewer have prioritized the needs of the changing treasury management workforce. Skipping this step can result in unnecessary tension and risk for the organization, as treasury staff struggle to find their footing amid rapid change.
Taking time to address your work environment, hiring practices, and performance expectations can help smooth day-to-day operations and help ensure you can attract and retain top talent.
The treasury team of today—and tomorrow—requires a different mix of skillsets than the more traditional role of the past two decades. A recent study shows the most desired skills for treasury professionals now are:
- Strategic thinking
- An ability to partner across the business
- Technological affinity2
These capabilities mirror overall trends in payments. Faster payments, for example, make technology acumen more critical for those who manage these channels. A need to simplify and improve the customer experience creates more need for collaboration skills. Financial knowledge is still essential—but it’s no longer the only strength that treasury professionals must demonstrate.
Tips to bridge talent and technology
Whether you’re 22, 42 or 62, every generation can adapt and improve when it comes to working with other age groups and new technologies. The key is being open to new people and new ideas.
Here are tips to acclimate your treasury organization for success:
- Take an interest. A welcoming, curious attitude is one of the best ways to make other generations feel comfortable. Asking questions and showing genuine interest in new communication methods, processes, or work styles indicates a willingness to adapt and accept. If you’re a manager, consider an “open door” policy that welcomes new perspectives from staff.
- Establish inter-generational relationships. Too often, younger staff focus exclusively on low-level operational activities, with no visibility to the big picture. At the same time, more senior workers need an opportunity for knowledge transfer. As projects, payment methods, and systems allow, create teams that foster collaboration.Consider also more formal mentoring programs, or even “reverse mentoring,” where younger colleagues exchange their skills and knowledge with more senior staff.
- Showcase your innovations. Too often, treasury operates in the shadows, handling back-office functions that can seem routine and traditional. Faster payments, APIs, robotic process automation, and other enhancements can help treasury update its reputation. Communicating to other departments these modern tools and practices puts treasury in the spotlight and shows a positive culture to the rest of the organization.
- Make treasury competitive. Ninety-three percent of hiring managers find finance recruiting “somewhat challenging” or “very challenging” today.3 As senior professionals retire, it’s crucial to attract and retain younger talent. But, that means turning a treasury job into a sought-after opportunity.Step back and assess your department with fresh eyes, paying close attention to opportunities to collaborate, innovate, work flexibly, and learn. Remember, top candidates have many choices, including both corporate and fintech environments. Make sure your team shines.
- Look for tech superheroes. As technology becomes more central to treasury, don’t overlook candidates with IT experience or who are digital natives. By recruiting from adjacent departments and nontraditional candidate pools, you may find “superheroes” who can tackle treasury’s new, more technical reality with gusto. Most treasury activities can be easily learned. Candidates either get tech or they don’t.
- Redefine success. Automation and efficiency initiatives typically reduce manual effort for treasury staff. Fewer payments to process manually. Less time spent entering data between systems, for example.But, workers used to measuring day-to-day satisfaction in high volumes of transactions may feel threatened or even sidelined by the move to new technology; resolving 15 complex issues each day may not hold the same appeal as processing 300 payments. Ease the transition by acknowledging the change, and helping staff redefine what success looks like in new roles.
- Bring solutions, not problems. Lastly, remember to stay positive. Automation, new payment methods, different work styles—while exciting and beneficial, at the core all represent change. As you encounter the inevitable challenges that accompany business transformation, as well as the myriad outlooks that each generation brings, try to focus on how to adapt and move forward, rather than placing blame or dwelling on problems. Managers and coworkers alike appreciate colleagues with an eye toward solutions.
Remember, your bank can serve as a resource as you bridge the gap between talent and technology, with best practices, case studies, and tips from other companies and industry peers. It’s never too early (or too late) to seek additional guidance.
For more information, contact your Wells Fargo representative or fill out the Contact Us form on this site.
1 Inc., “The (Millennial) Workplace of the Future Is Almost Here,” January 15, 2019
2 PwC, “Digital Treasury—It Takes Two to Tango,” 2019 Global Treasury Benchmarking Survey
3 Treasury & Risk, “How Finance Recruiting Is Changing,” February 28, 2019