Let’s start at the very beginning ' with a look at your own profile. Let’s assume that you’re in your 20s, smart and articulate and an MBA aspirant. But then, marketing ' or even HR ' doesn’t really suit your palate. Instead, it’s the smell of money and the lure of the financial markets that set your senses tingling. It’s a combo that will make you an ideal candidate for specialising in treasury management.
“Broadly speaking, a treasury manager handles the cash flowing in and out of a company. He decides where and how the company will invest its cash and, if there is money to be raised from the capital market, how the company will go about doing it,” says Arup Choudhuri, associate dean, ICFAI Business School, Calcutta.
The work of a treasury manager branches out into two broad areas ' the corporate sector and banks. While treasury management is a clearly differentiated function in banks, companies have just begun streamlining it as a separate role within corporate finance. At some companies like Bajaj and Infosys, treasury management is a separate division within finance. But at companies like Asian Paints and Hindustan Lever, treasury is just one of the roles that finance executives handle. Says Partho Mukherji, senior vice-president, treasury, UTI Bank, “In corporate finance, treasury management is about optimising savings and investments, whereas in a bank, it is a profit centre by itself.”
Cushy on cash
You could blame it all on the booming economy. “The role of a treasury manager is becoming more crucial within the ambit of corporate finance as companies make more and more money,” says Prabal Banerjee, group treasurer, Mahindra & Mahindra. With the opened up markets, decision-making in financial matters is that much more complicated and requires a thorough understanding of domestic as well as foreign markets,” says Binay Bhushan Chakrabarti, professor of finance, Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta.
B.P. Agarwal, CEO of ABC Consultants adds, “More and more big companies are viewing treasury management as an important part of their operations. Hence, people with the right training are greatly in demand.” The basic qualification is usually an MBA in finance, but for many banks, even CAs and those with a background in quantitative finance fit the bill.
A key area of a treasury manager’s expertise is his ability to look into the potential risks of the market, speculate and hedge it. “It’s a bit like crystal-ball gazing,” says a former treasury manager. Often, after a good stint in a treasury team, opportunities in other areas of corporate finance open up within the same company, like project evaluation and financing, management accounting, risk management and credit rating. “Usually, after two to three years, treasury managers look for a change of function and companies don’t discourage that,” reveals Banerjee.
Calling the shots
“The work of the treasury manager is exciting because it allows a finance professional to come out of the backroom and call the shots. It requires one to interact with bankers and other financial experts,” says a Tata Steel executive.
So what do you have to do to become a treasury manager' Though IIMC doesn’t yet have a specialised treasury management course, it is part of MBA, finance. “But this is such a dynamic area of work that teaching it requires constant upgrading,” says Chakrabarti. “At ICFAI, it’s taught as part of the treasury and foreign exchange management programme,” Choudhuri reveals. But the industry is surely sitting up and taking notice ' on August 24 a brainstorming session titled ‘Treasury Management in India: Scope for Aggression’ was organised jointly by CNBC and ING Vysya Mutual Fund in Mumbai. And with over 50,000 new jobs predicted for the banking and financial services sector this year, treasury managers may have a rosy future in the coming months.
The pay is extremely attractive, of course. Most executives prefer not to talk about their pay packets, but some reckon it could be 20 to 30 per cent higher than the salary of a person who handles a routine finance function. A finance MBA fresher can start as a treasury manager with a minimum annual salary of Rs 7 lakh.
Additional reporting by Gouri Shukla in Mumbai