My regular blog readers know I like to take the layman perspective on what amazes me in (Corporate) Treasury. I have my personal archive with relevant news we use to discuss every second week in team meetings. What currently amazes me most are the completely unpredictable developments in what used to be the banking market. Just some recent news:
- Wise, formerly known as Transferwise does a direct listing in London and is valued at $11 billion. They will invest in further facilitating cross border payments thus offering a bank service substitute; read more
- The competition of Wise, Revolut receives further investments and is valued at GBP 21 billion. They will establish full banking services building direct competition; read more
- Mollie, a miniature Adyen, explicitly states that they will beat banks at their game; read more
- One can also see banks creating their own new brands and services. ABN started Aymz, entering the niche market where RNHB and others are financing real estate in not too big tickets: read more
- And Niels van Daatselaar, CEO of TreasurUp writes about banks and fintechs working together: read more
- My final example is Ebury being taken over by Santander: the old world takes over the new contender: read more
A few years ago, the Traditional banks had the upper hand and would buy all parties that threatened them. By now, many Fintechs have a much higher valuation than banks. The extreme liquidity in the markets and willingness to invest leads to a situation that predicting what will be next is hard. I think that future winners find a right balance between applying newest technology, understanding potential clients, choose a clear strategy and move forward at highest speed. Many markets are winner takes all, making the game extra exciting.
I have not found a journalist or researcher who was able to solve this market equation and predict which of the various “eat or being eaten” scenarios will occur. The constant flow of new market entrants will continue. My expectations are that Apple, Microsoft, Google or Amazon entering this market with very substantial investments might be the next game changer. But why would I know?
What do you think will happen?
Owner at Treasurer Search
This is a blog by someone who does not own bitcoins or other crypto currencies and does not intend to purchase any soon. Someone who is not a subject matter expert. Someone who told his colleagues not to consider the topic relevant for corporate treasury for a long time. Someone who thought bitcoins are only relevant for extortionists or those who speculate, gamble and hope to get rich quickly. You understand, that someone would be me.
Slowly I am getting this “One wrong-way driver? I see dozens!”-feeling. Newspapers are filling up with blockchain news. Pension funds start seeing crypto currencies as a relevant asset class. Auction houses start accepting payments (Tesla stopped again) and in countries with hyperinflation in South America, people are fleeing into cryptocurrencies, especially stable coins. After a first attempt with the Libra, Facebook is introducing a stable coin with the so-called Diem that seems to be connected to the US dollar.
My main objection always was that I did not see the underlying value. Real estate is bricks, shares are a piece of ownership, bonds should be paid back and with fiat currencies you can buy in a store. I cannot live in bitcoins and my baker does not accept them as payment. But with gold I cannot buy bread either. It has some practical use as a metal but that does not justify its current value. So why measure bitcoins in practical use and underlying value?
The core discussion is about speculation and trust. There used to be times we knew a dollar or gulden could be exchanged for gold, so we trusted our money. But the gold standard is not so standard anymore. Of course the prices of dogecoins, ethereum and bitcoins are extremely volatile but how about the rates of Argentine Pesos, Venezuelan Bolivars, Turkish Liras or pre WOII German Deutschmarks? When you cannot stand the heat, stay out of the crypto currency kitchen but I do not consider volatility a reason to disqualify the asset class.
As to myself, perhaps I just have to accept that I am a laggard or at best member of the late majority in accepting the technology/solution. As to corporate treasurers, the survey shows they have the ambition to educate themselves better on the topic. Of course to be able to answer questions from their colleagues and perhaps to initiate some form of a practical application of crypto currencies. I hope that, next to the Tesla example, in further blogs we can inform you about relevant business cases. About successful implementation but of course also about the bottlenecks like taxation and reporting. There will be enough happening for many future blogs. And I will be someone who communicates differently about crypto currencies.
PS You might enjoy the slides of a recent presentation by Tristan Verhagen, recent Register Treasurer graduate, a great introduction into Bitcoins with provoking insights. See link.
Take care, Pieter
Owner at Treasurer Search
The great Dutch philosopher Johan Cruijff said: “Je gaat het pas zien als je het door hebt”, roughly translated “you only see if you get it”. I recently thought about this when visiting and working with a mid-sized local company. Their treasury team was much bigger than the teams of companies in the same industry two or three times their revenue size. In this team, for example, they had two employees full-time entering manual payments. Data and instructions are gathered from a multitude of systems and typed into banking software. Time is lost, mistakes are made, staff demotivated and money lost. They refused to hire a qualified candidate who could help because his expected base salary was a few thousands of euros too high…..
Recently the Dutch regulatory body for financial markets, AFM, published this research that shows that companies would benefit from a more mature market in alternative funding. One of their observations is that new solutions, for instance in working capital, are accepted even though the rates that have to be paid are preposterous. They see the market grow, not enough focus on credit rating and doubt if the market will stabilize in a professional manner. A stronger regulatory framework is suggested. I am in doubt, who will do the audit?
Those who are in need for strong treasury seem to ignore the available expertise. Distrust? Lack of time? Afraid of treasury lingo?
Personally I hope that entrepreneurs and CFOs will train their critical thinking and only use what they understand. Cost that are hidden in the total price of their treasury solutions are regretfully accepted easier than a separate price for the right solution and one for the advice. That is regrettable because one of the effects is that companies get perhaps the cheapest but the wrong solutions.
We have a simple suggestion: digest what you know about treasury and ask the most obvious question you can think of. Ask the expert panel and pass our suggestion forward to anyone you might think have a proper question. It is a matter of time until we get it all. I am sure.
Take care, Pieter
Owner at Treasurer Search
Efficiency, lack of expertise, stability and other reasons are all perfectly fine to consider outsourcing in general. Based upon input about outsourcing of trading in an asset management environments we decided to ask prominent corporate treasurers if they think this might work in their company. This is my, very personal, report about the meeting.
Recap Round Table
Being a treasury recruiter I hear interesting stories about the professional lives of clients, candidates and others. Not too long ago I spoke with Dmitry Zamkovoy of Milliman. He told me about their outsourcing services for financial institutions, not only middle and back office functions but also trading operations. Together we wondered if this would work for corporates. See also his article ‘Outsourced trading, is it time to make the switch? Nine factors to consider’
Most of my clients are corporate treasuries with teams with up to dozens of staff members dealing with large banks who employ thousands of specialists. Corporate treasurers have to know a lot about various topics, have important responsibilities and vacation or sickness can be a problem. So my hypothesis is that outsourcing might offer stability and expertise, perhaps efficiency.
In order to find out if my assumptions are right, we decided to organize an invitation-only round table, hosted by Treasurer Search and treasuryXL with the content expertise of Milliman. The 12 participants all have leadership roles in large or very large treasuries, managing front offices. We had group treasurers of Dutch listed companies with up to €10 billion revenue stream and directors of risk working with companies even substantially larger.
In our introduction it became quickly clear we had the right group of people to discuss the hypothesis. Relevant and related topics like regulatory affairs, cost savings, relationship with external parties, cybersecurity and also HR effects were discussed. Also, it did not take long to find out that the hypothesis was met with a lot of scepticism. Various reasons were mentioned.
- The actual trading task within corporates does not take that much time of treasurers, so what is the win in efficiency?
- Trading is one little element in the whole risk mitigation strategy of companies. The risk process starts within the operational business and all agreed business-related tasks cannot be outsourced;
- With increased transparency in the market and a decreased risk appetite in investments of corporates, the complexity of the actual trade is not that high anymore;
- Some feared that the relation with their brokers and banks would suffer under outsourcing;
- I sensed that many participants, and their staff, enjoy doing the actual trade and do not look forward to losing that part of their job;
- Also the statement “if you outsource a process, you can also automate it” did not work in favour of outsourcing.
Conclusion and what about your thoughts?
Dmitry and I raised a question and got our answer. Perhaps outsourcing is possible but not appealing. I am just a treasury recruiter with no stake in the business case but for me, some nagging questions remain:
- “is the focus only on trading too narrow?”,
- “what would be the answer if we would ask CFOs or IT experts?”,
- “there a few examples of outsourced corporate treasury I know about. What works, what doesn’t?”.
Expertise, stability and efficiency are the results of outsourcing of other functions. Does treasury have such a unique position?
Join the discussion
I look forward to your opinion in this, the discussion takes place at the LinkedIn page of treasuryXL.
Thanks for reading!
You might remember our previous blogs about the Rent a Treasurer. In this joint effort with Treasurer Search, we make high calibre treasury expertise available for organisations with treasury exposure without a specialist on board. Treasurer Search is in constant communication with the treasury labour market and knows who has what expertise and is available. treasuryXL has a wider network that includes CFOs of mid-sized companies and a very strong communication machine. Combining both enables the Rent a Treasurer service.
What we notice in our market research is that treasury is not well known by these CFOs, so they do not put it on their priority list. But CFOs do understand quickly the upside when speaking with and learning from a treasurer. Often not wanting extra headcount is mentioned as a reason not to act upon treasury opportunities. And many specialized treasury consultants are a better match with multi-billion corporates and costly. So mid-sized companies often rely on bankers and auditors. But many bankers focus too much on revenue and the knowledge of auditors is often not deep enough.
Currently we work with a core team of eight bringing the Rent a Treasurer concept to the next level. Six team members cover various subsets of treasury tasks and complement each other. Kendra represents treasuryXL and I work on behalf of Treasurer Search. We are the support. Our goal is to organise more meetings with CFOs and help them successfully save costs, mitigate risk and create opportunities through appropriate treasury solutions. We tell interesting stories, on a regular basis, to decision makers who might be interested and we will increasingly do so.
It gives me great pleasure to inform you that one of the team members, Niki van Zanten, currently works as a Rent a Treasurer on two different assignments where FX risk has the most prominent focus. With the first client, he has been able to save substantially on cost already in his first week. Niki is the perfect example of an expert who learnt in the Champions League, with Cisco & Philips, and applies his knowledge helping mid-sized companies.
If you want to know more about Rent a Treasurer or introduce us to your business network, please let me know. I am convinced many more can benefit from good treasury. We will keep you updated.
Owner at Treasurer Search
They still exist, the hiring managers who totally rely on their first impressions. “At handshake I already know if it is a good candidate”. I am no Don Quichote but will continue my battle against this statement. Not only because we are not allowed anymore to shake hands due to covid-19. This statement radiates being impolite, dumb, not showing an interest in who you work with and wasting time.
I found new inspiration in this article of recruitment guru Lou Adler.
I will let you read the whole article by yourself but elements I took is that preparing for an interview with a potential successful hire should include assessment of abilities (soft, hard and other skills), the fit (with the culture, colleagues and manager) and of course motivation (in doing the job, not landing it). He further describes that content driven interviewers (techies) tend to focus too much on abilities and the first-impression-interviewers do not control their “stupid switch”. I will not do a comprehensive analysis but want to put your attention on the following two aspects:
- First, in my perception many in the current corporate treasury population can be described as highly skilled. They did well at university, got high grades and enjoy the analytical. The ones that have an above average impact, the ones that go up the ladder in treasury but also other functions, did well because they were a good fit. They understood colleagues and were able to get their point across. They bridged the gap between treasury and the rest of their organisation. As many hiring managers are treasury-techies, I would like to invite them to increase their attention to the fit. It could make your team so much better.
- Second, I see bad recruitment decisions based upon the stupid switch in organisations where hiring managers do not understand the importance of treasury. Hiring managers who do not spend (a lot of) time with the person they recruit. Hiring managers who are included in the process because “somebody has to interview the candidate and has to make the decision”. I do understand that decision makers have to be included but perhaps they are better informed with CVs or assessment reports. Also there is a task for us, the treasury community, in showing how important the job should be. Spread the word!
Let me finish up with emphasizing that the interview is only one of many components of a good recruitment process. CV screening, references, assessments and a cover letter all bring information that can be the foundation of a good recruitment decision. We like to use the Treasurer Test in our recruitment. In the article Lou Adler describes not only the theory but also helps you, with practical steps, professionalising your recruitment.
Do you know people who cannot switch of the “stupid switch”?
What do you see?
I look forward to your input,
Owner at Treasurer Search
Treasurer Search is founded in 2009. Treasurer Search recruits candidates for both permanent and temporary treasury positions in industry, trade, services and non-profit. They recruit treasury professionals of all levels, from young graduates to senior treasury professionals, for positions including corporate treasurer, cash manager, treasury controller, treasury consultant, treasury analyst, assistant treasurer and group treasurer.
AN INTRODUCTION TO
Pieter de Kiewit, Treasury Aficionado, Recruitment Consultant and Owner of Treasurer Search. His market focus is the BeNeLux and Germany, his clients are mainly corporates, non-profit and consultancy organizations. Pieter holds an MSc. in Organizational Science and has over 25 years experience in international recruitment. In many ways he contributes to the Treasury Community by connecting people, companies, education and events.
We asked him 11 questions and 2 bonus questions. Let’s go!
1. Can you tell us about Treasurer Search and its mission and vision?
In our vision the professional field of treasury will further evolve and serve a broader group of organizations. It is our mission to listen to treasurers, business and HR leaders and make robust matches taking everybody’s interest into account.
2. What was the main reason to start with Treasurer Search in 2009?
For me as a person, my first professional choice was recruitment. In 2009 I worked in the recruitment industry for 15 years in various roles with two international market leaders. I decided I wanted to recruit in a way that suited my clients, candidates and me best. And that an own organisation was the best structure to do so. Already early in my career I searched group treasurers and liked the job type in so many ways. With the expert combination of both recruitment and treasury, I think we can optimize our added value best.
3. How would you describe your company in 3 words?
Results, expertise, authentic
4. Can you take us with you into your company culture? How would you describe it?
We take pride in what we do, want to show our added value and like our job. We are Dutch, direct, informal and also very much interested in you and what keeps you busy. We are here to stay and want to build long lasting relationships. And we are not afraid to try or even initiate something new.
5. What is, in your perception, the biggest benefit for clients and candidates to work with Treasurer Search?
Understanding the recruitment industry is not hard. What sets us apart from other executive search firms are our treasury expertise which enables us to dig in deeper. And our long lasting relationships. 90% of the candidates we find a position for, we had prior contact with. Over 50% of our revenue is repeat business and we are still growing. Clients like us because we find better candidates, quicker for a fair, market level fee.
6. What has been your biggest challenge since the start of Treasurer Search? And how did you deal with it?
Our USPs are stability and treasury expertise combined with recruitment skills. People who combine these aspects are few. We have taken steps not only forward but also back because new colleagues realized after a while that their motivation did not match the mission of Treasurer Search. By now we have a stable team and cautiously continue moving forward. In recruitment for our own organisation we spent even more time in informing potential colleagues.
7. What is the best learning experience you ever had as business owner of a treasury recruitment club?
The treasury community is an interested and intrinsically motivated group of people. Always willing to brainstorm and join. In order to channel positive input into plans that bring us the results we strive for, we cannot lose focus. That brings best results. Over time I better learned to avoid distractions but are not done learning.
8. In the last 10 years, what are the main differences in the world of treasury & recruitment?
Too many to make a comprehensive list. What strikes me most in treasury is that the professional level of treasurers is going up. Treasurers are nowadays educated at a higher level, better communicators and continue to invest in treasury education. Treasury is getting the platform it deserves.
Also recruitment is constantly changing. The success of a new hire will never be an exact science but we try to avoid risk. New insights and technology in our field resulted in www.treasurertest.com. In my opinion a perfect example of recruitment new style.
9. How do you see the future of the function of treasury?
I hope and expect treasurers will be able to increase their impact. In large corporates they will be able to contribute in strategy, mitigate risk better and save cost. In mid-sized organizations they will find their spot in the CFO team where they are currently not always. The impact of treasury technology cannot be overestimated, one blog is not enough to describe that topic.
10. How important is treasury in times like these? In times of COVID19….
The cliché “profit is an opinion, cash a reality” is currently felt stronger than ever. The treasurer that cannot show his added value in these times might not be in the right position.
11. Tell us, 10 years from now, what does Treasurer Search look like?
Predicting the future in these times is more daunting than ever, we just celebrated our first 10 years… I hope 10 years from now we can still show stability, treasury and recruitment expertise. Furthermore I hope clients who currently do not have a treasurer are happy we found one for them and also many more clients who are not based in The Netherlands enjoy our services.
What makes you happy in your work?
Results. See that my colleagues are happy in their job and help candidates and clients moving forward.
What are you most proud of in your career at Treasurer Search?
That clients call us again because they like the candidate they hired through us before. That candidates are happy in their job we found them, and for a long time. That we created an organization with employees that like coming to work to a job that pays mortgages and children’s shoes. That the treasury community knows us and knows how to find us.
Kosten besparen, business kansen creëren en risico’s verkleinen, dat is wat goede treasury elke organisatie kan brengen, dus niet alleen de multinationals. Als treasury aficionado zie ik dagelijks dat organisaties zichzelf tekort doen. In dit artikel maak ik graag concreet waar ik het over heb omdat ik merk dat velen het vakgebied onterecht complex vinden.
Het managen van geldstromen kost geld:
- De bankier als loodgieter stuurt ook een rekening, vaak alleen niet zo expliciet. Deze rekening is bijvoorbeeld voor transacties en het aanhouden van rekeningen. De realiteit is dat de meeste organisaties en vaak ook hun banken geen voortdurend zicht hebben op deze kosten en dat ze voortdurend wijzigen.
- Wat ook wel eens gebeurt is dat voor één internationale betaling even veel (per stuk) wordt betaald als voor 5.000 internationale betalingen. Dit terwijl kwantum korting van toepassing is.
- Wat ik ook regelmatig zie is dat een bepaalde financieringsstrategie is gekozen waarbij een oplossing de markt conforme prijs heeft maar de juiste oplossing niet is. Rood staan op een rekening courant is veel duurder dan een hypothecaire lening. Vaak wordt niet nagedacht over wat de juiste oplossing is.
- De laatste van vele voorbeelden die ik wil noemen is dat diverse offertes aanvragen bij diverse leveranciers kan leiden tot substantiële kostenbesparingen. Vaak is de huisbank best bereid een lager tarief voor een dollar deal te berekenen en zijn er velen die nog goedkoper kunnen leveren.
Het zijn simpele oplossingen maar de tijd wordt er niet in gestoken.
Business kansen creëren
De gereedschapskist van een treasurer zit vol oplossingen die het verschil kunnen maken tussen een kans verzilveren of niet. Zo zie je in bijvoorbeeld projecten organisaties of bedrijven die leveren in exotische oorden, dat de business stopt op het moment dat de klant pas wil betalen na complete levering. Dat kan te risicovol lijken of het kan zijn dat de leverancier de upfront kosten niet kan dragen met eigen middelen. Via garanties, letters of credit, borgstellingen door de overheid of projectfinanciers kan de business dan soms toch worden gerealiseerd. En besef goed, niet zo lang geleden was (equipment) leasing nog geen geaccepteerde oplossing. Nu kunnen transporteurs verladingen aanbieden en kunnen de vrachtwagen producenten meer produceren.
Bij treasury en risico wordt vaak gedacht aan rente en valuta. Dat is terecht, de bijbehorende risico’s moeten prudent worden aangepakt. Een veel belangrijker risico is beschikbare liquiditeit. Goede treasurers kunnen forecasten en ingrijpen om cash beschikbaar te maken voor de organisatie. Extra faciliteiten vanuit de bank, doordacht werkkapitaalmanagement, managen van betalingstermijnen en tools als factoring kunnen het verschil maken tussen overleven of niet.
Met deze korte opsomming wil ik duidelijk maken dat voor iedere organisatie treasury van grote waarde is. Dat kan met een expert op de payroll, met eigen boerenverstand of met een tijdelijke oplossing (Rent a Treasurer). Het gaat niet om complexe materie, wel om de bereidheid af en toe een stap terug te doen en het vakgebied te overzien.
Zullen we overleggen? Wie weet kan ik u in contact brengen met de expert die voor u het verschil kan maken.
Owner at Treasurer Search
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.
On behalf of Treasurer Search, Pieter
On behalf of treasuryXL, Kendra
Owner at Treasurer Search