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Evolution in treasury creating recruitment opportunities Back  
Sue Stuart looks at the development of corporate treasury in Ireland and finds the evolution of the roles into risk management making the long-term prognosis good.
Corporate treasury has long been an important part of Ireland’s business life, but since the advent of the IFSC in Dublin it has acquired a far more prominent position. Domestic businesses have always had treasurers to deal with their cash management but the international financial services industry asks much more of its treasurers, many having to deal with complex systems and transactions.

Along with the growth of the IFSC came the growth of third party corporate treasury, organisations specialising in treasury work and hiring out their services to large corporations and institutions. Banks and other organisations in the IFSC also developed their own large in house treasury departments.

The financial services sector looks set to remain fairly stable during the current economic downturn and international financial services are even expanding in some areas. As the economic climate changes globally so will the types of financial services required. And corporate treasury work can expect to evolve in parallel with these changes.

The demands on corporate treasury departments will become more and different as globalisation increases and the requirement for skilled and qualified staff will increase. Employees will need experience and/or qualifications in both treasury work and IT systems as greater reliance is placed on technology.

Conor Leyden, managing director of Omnicom Financial Services’ Dublin based arm of the group’s treasury operations, said the role of treasury is changing within organisations as corporate structures evolve internationally. He is also on the main committee of the Irish Association of Corporate Treasurers ( IACT) and was previously association chairman.

‘As organisations become more sophisticated, particularly in risk management, treasury is becoming ever more important within these organisations, as is having well qualified, skilled treasury people. In addition as treasury infrastructures improve, in terms of integrated structures across Europe, there will be more opportunity for treasuries to add value for their organisations,’ he said.

‘This is all very good for the long term development of treasuries within corporates as very important specialist financial functions.’

‘The role of treasurer is an evolving one and has the potential to grow substantially within individual corporates. Treasurers are getting more involved in the underlying business of the corporate they are in so are also becoming risk managers and key members of the senior management team. People worked before in treasury often without any specialist qualifications, but now there is much greater focus on developing a high skill set.’

Leyden feels employment opportunities in treasury will keep very much in line with what is happening generally in finance. In the short term it will be a relatively tight market, but the long term prognosis is good. ‘ Treasury employment will be relatively tight over the next year or so. But there will still be opportunities at the higher levels, especially for those with good qualifications and systems skills. Good qualifications are becoming critically more important, which can be seen in the success over recent years of the IACT’s graduate corporate treasury programme at DCU as well as its seminars and other activities.’

He sees the treasury role changing significantly. ‘ It is a very fast changing area and the pace of change is increasing. After the final physical introduction of the euro we will see a lot more changes and a lot more consolidation across Europe. This will have a knock on effect in terms of the role of the corporate treasury and what it can actually achieve for an organisation.’

Leyden said outsourcing and agency treasury operations are growing in popularity. ‘ To date this has been almost exclusively within the international financial services sector rather than with domestic corporates. There are some advantages to outsourcing back office and middle office tasks as it gives companies more flexibility to change structure without changing head count. But agency services can be fairly basic so if one wants to do quite specific things corporates will maintain these in house themselves.’

‘ Corporates need to maintain the ability for the treasury to meet the evolving requirements of the organisation. The treasury must have excellent communication with all levels of the organisation and some of this can be lost if an agency is fulfilling a major front role.’

Dublin is a good location for treasury work, he feels. ‘It has a significant domestic sector which has been very much augmented by the IFSC over the last ten years. This has added greater variety and opportunity. It is also a good environment for doing business and benefits from being the only English speaking location in the Eurozone. Salaries are competitive. Generally they are a bit lower than in the UK, apart from the IFSC and international sectors which are more in line.’

Leyden doesn’t feel there will be many opportunities to hire staff from the slowdown in the IT/telco sectors. ‘ With treasury systems there is a need to understand what the treasury is trying to achieve as well as understand the system. IT people need to understand the output of the treasury. There are not that many people who have that combination so there is only a limited opportunity for hiring staff from the IT sector.’

The IACT, formed 15 years ago, is the representative body for corporate treasurers in Ireland. It aims to encourage and promote the study and practice of finance and treasury management, set guidelines for best practice and act as a forum for treasurers to meet and exchange information. It is well represented by over 300 members in public limited companies, multinationals, financial institutions and smaller and medium size companies.

The association produces a quarterly journal and organises seminars, conferences and training courses. It also runs a graduate certificate in corporate treasury programme with DCU.

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