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Talent Management: Keeping the Good Ones

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November 09, 2017

Talent management is a perennial topic for NeuGroups; communicate before recruiters do.

org-talentIn the restaurant industry there’s a saying that goes like this: She was a good cook as good cooks go, but as good cooks go, she went. That’s kind of the same issue for treasury: the good ones leave. Better pay, retention bonuses, promises of a brighter future, rotations, sabbaticals, unofficial vacation days, and free lunch still haven’t prevented people, or the good people you want, from leaving.

And this is exactly why talent management has been a popular topic across NeuGroups over the last several years. A recent cross-group poll showed the topic has risen in importance over the last year – over cash management, hedging, supply chain and other notable treasury topics. A NeuGroup Tech20 ShopTalk conversation this summer illustrated a good example of these talent considerations. One member wanted to know: 1) Do ATs hold the VP title? and 2) If so, was there an inflection point in either revenue, assets, cash under management, etc., at which this became institutionally viable?

Unfortunately for ATs, a clear majority, 87% of respondents, said no, the should not VP the AT. Of that 87%, 69% said their ATs do not have the VP designation, but are rather typically one level below as a Managing Director, Executive Director, Senior Director or Director, and 31% said they do not have an AT position at all. Reasons for not adding VP to the AT title included: avoiding inflation of titles and job levels, "de-layering exercise," company size, or title is reserved for CFO reports and those at the Officer level.

Interestingly, ATs have similar challenges for their direct reports, although they sound a little more charitable or at least, more likely to be pro-underlying. At NeuGroup’s Assistant Treasurers’ Group of Thirty or AT30, members discussed the merits and shortcomings of rotation programs. Rotations, which bring new blood into treasury for limited stints, have been around for years. In this discussion members agreed that the best case is one where rotational training programs target junior employees a couple of years out of college who are pre-MBA; the idea is that these candidates are less inclined to move on right away.

There’s also a preference for having the rotation to treasury come toward the end of the rotation program, that way treasury is the (or close to) the last stop and there is less chance of losing candidates to a sexier position down the line. Treasurers with rotation programs find that once candidates move on, luring them back to treasury and away from positions within strategy or other groups seen as more “glamorous” can be tough. For this reason alone, some member companies have eliminated the program.

AT30 members also heard about the benefits of cross-training programs within treasury departments where staffers in, say, cash management, are trained in another aspect of treasury like hedging. This keeps employees engaged and not worn down. One member said her department has benefited because this provides the ability to borrow talent from other groups when people leave. And members within treasury groups are offered job opportunities before a corporate-level posting. This company found that the knowledge of its systems held by staffers who have been cross-trained gave these internal candidates an edge over people with more job experience from out-side the company.

Another proven concept is communicating with top performers. Most organizations have strong processes in place to help develop talent based on career aspirations and skills, but if management doesn’t take time to talk to employees about how they are perceived by organization leaders, they may be doing them a disservice. For instance, many NeuGroup peer group members have programs that rank employee performance and distinguish top talent. However, few actually tell their employees the results of these ranking exercises. This might be a mistake because if employees aren’t told how they rank and what opportunities are available to them, an executive recruiter just might, and typically when it reaches this stage it’s likely too late to salvage the relationship and your employee may be gone.

One company in NeuGroup’s Global Cash and Banking Group uses executes several “pulse surveys” to gauge employee sentiment and then tailor internal communications accordingly.

So it is important that organizations have options for employees, and that they’re talking about and to them regularly, both in the hiring process and through regular career discussions.

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