My ethics are better than yours

| 12-06-2020 | treasuryXL | Pieter de Kiewit

In these corona times I work just as hard as before. Regretfully we have less assignments (Treasurer Search), but as a team we prepare for better times. Especially not traveling results in extra time in which I am finally able to structurally read Het Financieele Dagblad (the Dutch Financial Times) and contemplate what is happening and what people have to say. Inspired by a column of Matthijs Bouman I connected a number of articles. Bouman writes about “foute bedrijven” (wrong companies). People condemn Booking.com for asking for government support because they made a huge profit and bought their own shares and still ask for support. So, Bouman states, we should punish their employees. The same way we should punish companies that would not survive anyways, supermarkets that sell wrong products or aviation companies that pollute the air. I like the way he shows us how arbitrary our thinking is.

So what do you think about the following?

  • Flow Traders had an excellent quarter because they thrive on market volatility;
  • FX traders of Citibank, BoA and Goldman recently made huge profits.

Is their business model legit? Or are they the proverbial lawyers that chase the ambulance? At the end of the day I make a living finding staff for companies. Also death, sickness and crisis results in searches for new treasurers and I do not lose sleep over picking up these assignments. Demand and supply, simple as that.

We constantly see how the banking industry struggles with what is good and what is right. A string of scandals over the last years led to new legislation and a lot of work in solving derivatives contracts between banks and their clients (UHK). A new support industry rose and fell. Currently a new one is being built to fight money laundering and other dubious transactions, that will be a KYC industry. Bankers already knew what is wrong and ignored the rules so new control mechanisms had to be build. The one thing I learn from this is that external legislation is not a way to improve morality of bankers. Is the solution hidden in their reward system or their upbringing?

For the opponents of tax evasion, a topic that is in the heart of business ethics, there is good news. The number of entities in The Netherlands that are founded for this purpose is quickly getting smaller. This after extensive public discussion and potential policy changes. I like to think that the powers that be started thinking about the purpose of their companies and these entities, and decided that there are better ways. And not solely money driven, but also because it is the better way. I prefer being hopeful & positive over being cynical.

Listening skills and wanting to compete in the championship of ethics are rarely combined in one person. Being sure and loud regretfully often are. I will make a reminder to follow up on this blog in five years or so.

 

 

Pieter de Kiewit

Owner at Treasurer Search

How to recruit a Treasurer in 4 steps

| 11-05-2020 | treasuryXL | Pieter de Kiewit

Many searches we start, begin with a call from a HR manager, internal recruiter or CFO saying: “we have a treasurer, I do not completely understand what she does but she is leaving. Can you help?”. Of course music to our ears, happy to help. In recruitment for permanent positions HR is almost always involved. Sometimes they also contribute in the placement of interim treasurers. HR not knowing in detail about treasury is understandable. In meetings and events we notice that CFOs and entrepreneurs are also not very knowledgeable about corporate treasury. Getting treasury higher on their priority list deserves a separate blog. Is HR and CFOs not knowing about treasury a problem when recruiting a specialist and if so, how can this be solved?

My opinion is this is a problem when hiring managers do not understand and appreciate the importance of corporate treasury. I write this blog during the corona crisis. I do not believe there are business leaders who are, in these times, not aware that liquidity and funding management are vital business functions. This is where a treasurer should shine. When hiring managers do understand the vitality of the role of the treasurer but do not know the job content, we do have a hurdle that can be crossed.

What are the obvious steps?

  1. Screening treasury track records as shown in a cv is of course a first obvious. What did he accomplish as a treasury experts, focus on results! A candidate might be too positive about his past, this can be screened by checking references. Screening CVs without knowledge about treasury might be daunting. Simply key word comparison might be a good start but is not enough. Asking people with relevant knowledge in your network might add value. Treasurers, bankers, treasury teachers and consultants do have a stronger knowledge base;
  2. Worldwide there are only a few universities that pay attention to corporate treasury. Measuring knowledge through academic qualifications is smart (Register Treasurer, CTP, ACT are the most obvious). However, currently less than 20% of the corporate treasury population holds such a degree;
  3. Treasurer Search is one of the partners of the www.TreasurerTest.com initiative. An on-line assessment that objectively measures treasury knowledge and personality of a candidate. We integrated it in our services. The test is also available via the site;
  4. Including knowledgeable experts in the recruitment process will help. The combination of treasury and recruitment is a niche market. We of course are available.

Conclusion

My conclusion is that if you ignore the fact that corporate treasury is a niche also in the labour market, you create unnecessary risk. I hope you will be able to find the proper next treasury team member, secure business continuity and feel confident with your recruitment decision with the above list.

I am happy to brainstorm and support.

Cheers,

 

 

Pieter de Kiewit

Owner at Treasurer Search

E-learning Corporate Treasury Management

| 05-05-2020 | treasuryXL |

Pieter de Kiewit, owner of Treasurer Search shares his enthusiasm in an e-learning module about Corporate Treasury. You will learn how you can reduce costs, create opportunities and reduce risks.

Duration of the e-learning module: 35 minutes

Language: Dutch

Target Audience: Financials

Topics that will be discussed:

  • What is Corporate Treasury?
  • How to reduce cost, risks and create opportunities with Treasury
  • Deeper dive into Cash Management, Risk Management and Corporate Finance
  • What is the Bank’s role in Corporate Treasury?
  • The Treasury Challenge

Start e-learning and login:

Go to e-learning module here.
You can follow 1 module without any cost and for only €995,- for a full year you will have unlimited access to all modules provided on FinanceHub.nl.

Enjoy the e-learning of Pieter de Kiewit and of course we are curious what you think about it.

Cheers,

 

 

Kendra Keydeniers

Community & Partner Manager treasuryXL

Leaving the second Treasury Ivory Tower towards a new adventure

| 27-03-2020 | treasuryXL | Pieter de Kiewit

Corporate treasury deserves a broader audience. And also calibre experts bringing the field to the next level. There are treasury related business opportunities, there is risk to mitigate and costs to be saved. The next level is achieved by, amongst others, the graduates of the post graduate program “Register Treasurer” at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. Over the last decades I have seen many enthusiastic professionals raising treasury awareness among their colleagues in the large organizations they work in. So very big steps have been made in creating a broader audience. Treasurers are leaving their first ivory tower. In this blog I want to address leaving the second one. This might be a bit harder.

Organisations without own experts experiencing treasury exposure find two major hurdles on their way. The first is that they often do not have the awareness about what they miss out on. There are many priorities on their list and why do bank relations, FX management or alternative funding deserve a spot in their top5? There is no time and these topics are abstract and complex. Nobody they know will inform them.

The second hurdle is, that even if they have awareness, they do not know how to handle the problem or act upon the opportunity. Bankers often went from trusted advisors to sales agents, if they even pick up the phone. Big4 consultants often do not have the proper expertise, charge high fees and send a new youngster every year. High calibre treasury consultants have the proper expertise, but also their hourly rate can be quite stiff.

We will also tear the second  tower down, investing in two paths.

There is a lot of very relevant expertise available. Former bankers, contractors, fintechs are there to step in if a treasury opportunity arises. Permanent employment is not the basis for transferring their knowledge to organisations that need their expertise. So you do not have to hire. Furthermore knowledge can be gained with low threshold education programs, events and through other sources. Parties like Hogeschool Utrecht, Alex van Groningen, treasuryXL and Euroforum open the market for those who are willing to search and learn.

Then there is the awareness issue. First, treasury topics should be addressed in the environment where CFOs, controllers and entrepreneurs are. So not the specialized and dedicated LinkedIn Groups like “Corporate Treasurers” but in “MKB Nederland” (SME The Netherlands). Second, these topics should be described in language that appeals to the target group. So no showing off with specialistic lingo but clear messages telling about cost saving, risk mitigation and opportunity creation. Third, continuous repetition is the basis for awareness. So we should not stop writing, posting and presenting. It can be done!

I am convinced the treasury community will benefit from an increased awareness and knowledge of their field of expertise in the “mid-market”. We can be trailblazers and I invite to you to broadcast your excellent treasury stories about the job you love. Let’s also tear the second ivory tower down!

Cheers,

 

 

Pieter de Kiewit

Owner at Treasurer Search

Are we entering an unprecedented economic situation?

| 28-02-2020 | treasuryXL | Pieter de Kiewit

One of my favourite professional pastimes as a corporate treasury recruiter is digesting treasury technical content and bridging it to the “rest of the world”. Or see what is happening in the global news and projecting it on the field of corporate treasury.

Currently there is a constant flow of news about too much money in the market. One would say this is a good thing. Let me give you some positive and negative examples of the effects:

But also:

  • Pension funds are not able to invest in a future-proof way;
  • We have to pay for our savings (if you have a lot);
  • Hedge fund managers use external funding, instead of the funding of their investors, to safeguard their bonuses.

We enter an unprecedented economic situation only encountered by Japan and there is no obvious path to take. I will not try to clarify macro economics, it is not my field of expertise, but do know that changing demographics contribute. Us getting older and people retiring rich, most likely richer than their kids, has to do with this. What do I see as effects on corporate treasury? Let’s focus on three main tasks of a corporate treasurer.

In cash & liquidity management there are many exciting initiatives in the improvement of cash flow forecasting. Payments can technically be done smoother, safer and quicker. Cash visibility can be increased and liquidity is centralized. Most corporate treasurers want to implement these new solutions. As liquidity is high, many CFOs do not feel the urgency to invest in these initiatives. Doing nothing will not result in higher cost, so what is the ROI?

In risk & investment management the obvious focus is on interest developments. The general opinion is that interest will be low for a very long time. Getting long term funding for (almost) 0% is doable. So why bother matching long and short term funding options? This results in a situation that the use of hedging instruments is less important. Investing excess cash or helping the company pension fund with their strategy currently requires analysis and choices.

Corporate Finance has the fun task of optimizing the balance sheet and lowering funding costs to an extreme. I recently met the group treasurer of a real estate company who is able to make money attract funding for his company! The more challenging task of corporate finance is participation in business development and M&A. The willingness of entrepreneurs, shareholders and boards to invest in adventurous ways is high. The corporate treasurer has to hold on to his role of risk manager and hit the brake. This does often not increase his popularity…

A lot more can be said about the topic, that will be for other blogs. Back to a non-corporate mindset and not pretending to be a socialist, I hope all this money will be used to improve the world: better the environment, lowering the income gaps, makes us all happier. The real philosophical approach I leave to Notorious B.I.G.

Enjoy your money,

 

 

Pieter de Kiewit

Owner at Treasurer Search