CFO vs. Group Treasurer: Charting Your Course in Treasury

As an experienced treasury professional, you might find yourself at a crucial point in your career where you are trying to figure out: what’s next? If your ambition is to go up in hierarchy, two obvious paths come to mind: Group Treasurer (GT) and Chief Financial Officer (CFO). While both offer significant leadership responsibilities and strategic influence, each requires a different skill set and career path. Understanding these differences is important to help you determine which path suits you best.

Group Treasurer: Deepening Expertise and Fostering Collaboration

The Group Treasurer oversees the financial health of the organisation with a focus on core treasury functions: cash flow management, risk mitigation and capital structure optimisation. This role is for individuals who also enjoy technical mastery. You will dive into complex areas such as foreign exchange, derivatives and cash pooling strategies, cementing your position as a treasury expert.

But the GT role is not just technical. Effective leadership and communication are increasingly important. You will bridge the gap between treasury and other departments, ensuring alignment with business objectives. Building strong relationships with stakeholders across the organisation is essential to your success.

Chief Financial Officer: Broader Leadership and Strategic Decision-Making

The CFO position elevates you to the C-suite and places you at the forefront of the company’s financial strategy. You will oversee not only treasury, but also financial planning, accounting, reporting, budgeting and organizational development. And connecting these finance fields to the strategy of the company, reactive as well as proactive. This broader portfolio requires a more diverse skill set. Strategic intelligence is essential. You will provide critical financial insight to the CEO, ensuring decisions drive growth and profitability. Understanding the bigger picture and how finance contributes to the broader business strategy is essential. While treasury expertise remains valuable, a strong understanding of financial analysis, accounting principles, and regulatory compliance is crucial.

The Choice: Aligning Aspirations with Role Requirements

Choosing between these two career parts, it is crucial to look at yourself and think about what drives you. You will want to assess what are your strengths and weaknesses, and what about your job makes you happy?

  • Do you thrive on technical challenges and diving deep into treasury topics? Then the Group Treasurer role may be more suitable for you. You will act as a specialist and will need strong communication skills to explain treasury to laymen, to collaborate with other departments and to maintain relationships with external partners (such as banks and investors).
  • Or, perhaps you like to have a broader role and expand your knowledge outside the treasury field? And have more of an impact on the overall financial health of an organization? Then looking into the CFO path could be a good choice for you. As a CFO, you will also need strong communication and leadership skills to manage multiple finance teams, communicate with stakeholders (board of directors/shareholders/investors), and drive organizational change. But maybe most important, with this expansion of influence also comes greater responsibility, and you will need to feel comfortable being the one making tough decisions that impact the whole organisation. Because when you make a misstep, the ripple becomes a tidal wave!

At the end of the day, both the CFO and Group Treasurer positions are rewarding top-ups to a successful finance career. Do you find yourself wrestling with this decision? At Treasurer Search, we specialise in connecting top treasury professionals with their ideal career opportunities. Contact us when you want to talk about your career path! We are happy to provide you with our guidance.

You can also read our other blogs about strategic career planning:

Strategic Career Planning: How to use the SWOT analysis Mind the Gap: Gap Analysis in Strategic Career Planning

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