Rent a Treasurer – Joint Venture treasuryXL & Treasurer Search

| 29-07-2020 | treasuryXL | Pieter de Kiewit

Organisations with treasury exposure, without the expertise. The ones of you who know me longer, know this is one of my favourite hobby horses. For a longer period of time I have been tinkering with many plans to help the aforementioned organisations. This led to contributions to treasuryXL as a community and educational institutes like the Hogeschool Utrecht and the Vrije Universiteit. Now we will work on the obvious: bringing highly skilled treasury interim managers to organisations without a treasurer.

Impact on SME’s

Treasurer Search has a long and solid track record in finding interim treasury managers to large organisations with a corporate treasury function. One of our team members reaches out on a continuous basis to these managers to ask them about their availability, skills and preferences. Many of these managers love to work in smaller size organisations. There they can have real impact, save costs, mitigate risk and create opportunities.

Target audience treasuryXL

One of the important target audiences of treasuryXL is the group of CFOs, group controllers and entrepreneurs who, consciously or not, deal with treasury topics. In the content distributed on the platform the following is taken into consideration: non-technical treasury information on a regular basis with a clear upside-story. The communication channels that are used are also the ones that hardcore treasurers might not tune into but other financials do.

Rent a Treasurer

All the pieces of the puzzle have been on the table for a long time. The plans have been there for a long time and now we will act. As Ben Tiggelaar states: “the gap between plans and success is action”. Through treasuryXL you can “rent a treasurer”, click the link for more information about the concept.

Thank you,

On behalf of Treasurer Search, Pieter
On behalf of treasuryXL, Kendra

 

 

Pieter de Kiewit

Owner at Treasurer Search

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

Why corporate treasury is the recruitment niche for me

| 13-1-2020 | by Pieter de Kiewit |

My father was an engineer, he built roads and bridges around the world. One of his three kids following in his footsteps was a silent wish we knew about. Regretfully for him we all went in other directions, my sister and me at least landed engineering degrees. One of my first business management professors did teach me about building bridges but between functional areas. That is what I have been doing as a recruiter for the last 25 years and having a blast. 10 years ago I decided to only recruit in corporate treasury. Let me tell you why.

In a very simple way I always describe corporate treasury to laymen mentioning three tasks:

  1. Cash management and treasury operations: opening and closing bank accounts, payments, predict what payments will land and leave.
  2. FX and interest risk management: what will € and $ do? Zero % on our savings account, what shall we do?
  3. Financing: with what money will we fund our current and new activities?

With this description I do not have to be afraid for sudden new competition, do I? But do know that during the crisis treasurers found solutions for the survival of their employers. They found funding to pay salaries, helped sales with creative financing solutions, making complex transactions reality. They helped companies not going bankrupt due to currency exposures and forced banks to offer better solutions at an acceptable rate.

Treasurers manage large sums and report directly to the CFO. They are involved in mergers & acquisitions, reorganisations and international expansion. They act in small numbers but have a huge impact. Corporate treasury changes continuously and creates new treasury bridges to better connect with traditional job types like accounting, tax and sales. Corporate treasury is currently automated quicker than many similar functional areas. The academic world is showing increasing interest. In the Netherlands the post graduate education at the Vrije Universiteit is becoming more prominent in the treasury community. Corporate treasurer is an exciting position, the secret is out!

What I am passionate about is helping CFOs, HR, internal recruitment and group treasurers with their staffing questions. Treasury teams are almost always small, building treasury recruitment expertise is not worthwile for corporate managers. That is why my colleagues and I can add value. An HR manager knows about assessments, we know about treasurer assessments. A CFO knows about equity deals, we know about treasurers having funding expertise in his specific industry. A group treasurer knows about treasury tasks, we know how these tasks are executed in other companies so he can compare. That is why we can deliver and have impact. That makes me enjoy my job so much.

This is why recruitment in corporate treasury is my niche and there is still builder of bridges in the family.

 

 

Pieter de Kiewit
Owner Treasurer Search

visit website

 

My Currency Fundamentals for SMEs

| 24-12-2019 | by Pieter de Kiewit |

My Very Practical Currency Fundamentals for SMEs

In 2016 I informed you about my baby steps in dealing with foreign exchange exposure in a “baby steps article” on this platform. I was about to receive Euros from Switzerland and had to pay in GBP (British pounds) into the UK. Two things I learned about the fees of big banks if you transfer internationally into another currency:

  1. There is a transaction fee if you transfer money into another currency, in most cases a flat fee;
  2. The bank takes a percentage from the total amount to make GBP out of Euro.

My solution at the time was to open a GBP account to avoid both these costs. There is a monthly fee for this bank account and some simple math showed that was the way to go. Currently GBP is relatively strong and I do not expect any UK assignments shortly, so I have decided to close down the account. Time to dig in again. I have struggled with three major considerations.

Transferring GBP into Euro: struggling with the spread

If you go onto the internet to find out what the current exchange rate between two currencies is, you get a number like 1 GBP equals 1.20 Euro. So far so good. Banks and other financial services providers work with a so-called spread. They deserve a reward for their services so the price they pay for your GBP is lower than the price you pay them if  you buy a pound from them. The spread is the percentage over and under the number you will find on the internet.

I am not here to endorse any businesses but I can tell you that the percentages can differ substantially. One provider asked 0.7%, the second 0.3%. The second provider does not charge a transaction fee, the first one does. If the amounts are substantial and your margins are thin, this difference can be substantially!

The hassle

When I choose for the second provider, I have to open a new account, remember new passwords, hand in documentation and think about if I can trust them. In short: a hassle.

With my first provider I have relationship of decades. I decided to ask them if there would be a chance that they would lower their prices. As I am a small business owner, I do not have a contact person anymore. I sent three emails to three different mail addresses. The first was not answered, the second was answered with “I cannot help you” and upon mail number three I received a call. The service agent mentioned she could not help me but I should call a colleague at 3:30 pm and then I would be put in the waiting line. Call me old-fashioned but that is not how I want to work. So that is what I told her. I noticed she really wanted to help but at the end of the day I got the message that my transaction was not in the millions so I would not receive an answer and there was no price-lowering. Ok.

I am not a fan of bank bashing and think they do important work. And we do not want to pick up every recruitment assignment. It is not in our interest but also not in the interest of the potential client. I would have appreciated a better line of communication.

The Market

As you might have noticed, I do like my cost savings but let’s be practical. This year the conversion rate GBP – Euro has been at its’ lowest at 1.06 and at its’ highest at 1.20. So there is  a difference of 0.14. The difference in the conversion rate has been 0.4%. I now chose to invest time in how to do the conversion and with which provider. Market study, good timing and luck are much better ways to optimize your returns.

Final remarks

If you, as an entrepreneur, have to deal with foreign exchange rates it is good to know how the cost structures of banks are. Also it is good to know there are alternative service providers like XE, Ebury, NBWM and Global Reach Group. If your time is limited and the number of transactions low, dig in once and decide what works for you. If you have regular and/or substantial transactions, it makes sense to keep the topic on the agenda. In that case it might be useful to gather further information and consider risk mitigating strategies and learn more about hedging, derivatives, spots, forwards, et cetera. If you want to, I can open my network for you.

Good luck and I would like to read about your experiences,

 

 

Pieter de Kiewit
Owner Treasurer Search

 

Our banks are not like theirs (if they even have one)

| 08-10-2019 | by Pieter de Kiewit |

Recently Bloomberg reported about the authorities in Indonesia closing down 826 Fintech startups. My first assumption was this has to do with tax evasion and a very controlling government. Indonesia is most definitely not my field of expertise. Reading the article it struck me that my mindset concerning banking is quite limited and restricted to western standards. And over time I have noticed that I am not the only one. Reason to browse the internet, tell you about my findings and issues this concerning.

Even European banks are not all the same
In The Netherlands the retail banking standard was: banking services are for free and you get a decent percentage on your savings. Furthermore cheques were left in the previous millennium and even my grandmother uses on-line banking. Italian retail banking already came with an invoice long ago and cheques were and still are a standard in Germany. As many Europeans have no regular access to the (mobile) internet, banking on their computer or phone is not an option. One can also take this from the average number of banking offices to be seen in the streets of Amsterdam versus the ones in Bucharest.

Banking differences in the rest of the world
I did not do a comprehensive study but do know that for many of us Europeans a personal credit rating does not very sound familiar. When I lived in Canada I learned that you need a personal credit to get a cheque book. You get your credit rating by having an account where a regular income lands and improve it by leasing a car and pay your credit card bills in time. Without a credit rating no mortgage, a better credit rating results in a lower interest rate.
In some African countries telephone landlines were never installed and the first regular telephone was a cell phone. In parallel, bank accounts were skipped and cash is replaced by credit on this same cell phone. I think all these systems are doing a more or less proper job. Only if you want to cross the border you will need to help.

Problems with inadequate banking services
EY reports that over 200 million SMEs do not have access to banking services putting them in an offside position in the global economy. All this because the regular big banks want to deal with them as if they are a Western company. The Bloomberg article describes a situation where 90% of the Indonesian population has no credit card or access to banking services. Of course this is a facilitator for the black market economy. But also, there are examples where Fintech and loansharking are being combined with all related criminal behaviour and excessive interest rates. And, in a society without banks, what can you do with your savings? I think these are real issues.

Having browsed and learned I don’t think we should aim for a worldwide standard in banking. I hope we can learn from each other and that the banking landscape will be more honest, enabling a fair global economy. With this in mind I think I will have another look at cryptocurrencies introduced by Facebook and other new kids on the block. That is for another blog and by now I think I understand the Indonesian government better.

What are your thoughts and which interesting examples do you see around the world?

 

 

Pieter de Kiewit
Owner Treasurer Search

 

How do you find your Interim Treasurer?

| 09-09-2019 | by Pieter de Kiewit |

Treasury recruitment organisations and treasury consultants are both involved in interim treasury assignments. They often approach the same candidates but work with a different cost structure. Expertise of the service provider and interim manager are always important. If capacity is most important in your assignment, a recruiter might be best. If the project result dominates, a consultant.

Between the times of life-time-employment and the current flexible employment contracts some decades have passed. The Dutch have been among the trailblazers in making the labour market more flexible. These developments are being applauded by some and regretted by others. In our niche, corporate treasury, employers and employees are mainly positive. In this article I want to focus on two channels through which you can find your interim treasurer.

In my opinion the underlying agreement for labour, contractor or consultancy is secondary to what the company is looking for. If they are looking for a long term (a year or more) solution with a predictable set of tasks, an interim solution is not appropriate. Interim will not offer the stability and will cost too much.

Obvious reason for choosing an interim solution is the temporary need for capacity and/or expertise. This can be because you are looking for the permanent solution or the regular employee has taken a time-out. Also when you are shutting down your organisation, capacity is the dominating factor. In a build-up, implementation or crisis transition skills are important. In all described situations specific expertise, measured in experience and education, is a must. How does this help you choosing between a recruitment or consultancy firm?

When to use a treasury recruiter to find an interim treasurer
As treasury recruiters we find candidates for interim positions in various ponds. First there is a group of independent contractors with a track record in interim management, with a legal entity that can hit the ground running. Next to this group there is a group of candidates that are between jobs or just before retirement. Knowledgeable and motivated. Some of them can work from their own company, others will work through payrolling solutions we can provide. This second group is not always best in hitting the ground running but does have the knowledge level. Some of them can make the transfer from temporary to permanent employment. Most of the times the second group comes at a lower rate but sometimes need more time to bring the same results.

When to use a treasury consultancy to find an interim treasurer
Most professional consultancies work with the idea that they will solve the problems of their clients. In fee structure it is even possible to define a project and agree upon the cost in advance. A recruiter will not be able to do this. An interim manager working through a consultancy can do so with shadow management: he can call colleagues if he lacks knowledge. Furthermore the infrastructure and support is more substantial. All these benefits come at a price: the average hourly rate of a consultant is often 50% higher than an independent interim manager with a similar profile would charge.

Where recruiters and consultants overlap
In competition with consultants we often notice that we (recruiters) approach the same candidates and ask a lower price. Also it happens that an independent senior interim manager is compared with a medior consultant who is on the payroll of the consultancy. In that situation the client has to decide if he prefers apples over oranges.

Final remark and what to do?
Often all parties pretend recruitment (and other) processes are 100% rational. They are not and that is not a bad thing. You should choose for the interim manager and service provider that makes you feel good and who solve your problem. Sometimes a high hourly fee and few hours is better than a low hourly fee and many hours.

It is not rocket science but do think before you act. If you want to only steer upon results and high expertise, a consultancy is best, in other scenarios a recruiter might offer a better solution. What is your experience?

 

 

Pieter de Kiewit
Owner Treasurer Search