American hero of the 80s, most of his time armed with a clothespin and three pieces of string, would MacGyver have made a good treasurer ?
Nothing is less sure…
However, his ability to handle the most challenging situations with limited resources would have been a great asset to him in 2021.
The treasurer’s responsibilities are constantly expanding, as he or she responds to the growing expectations of various stakeholders (managers, creditors, shareholders), manages financial risks (liquidity, credit, interest rates, exchange rates, commodity prices) and takes into account compliance requirements (IFRS, DSP2, Emir)…
To such an extent that it now seems quite legitimate to wonder about the growing gap between the fiction of the ideal treasurer (now just a step away from the superhero) and the more down-to-earth daily life of an ordinary treasurer. All things considered, perhaps it is finally time to recognize that the treasurer is not quite MacGyver !
The myth of the “super-worker” and its limits
In its wildest dreams, a company hopes that its treasurer will be able to manage all the complexity of multi-currency financial operations, to manage all its risks to the millimeter, and to produce advanced reports in real time, all from a simple Excel spreadsheet…
Such productivity requirements placed on the shoulders of a single individual are reminiscent in many ways of the USSR’s communication around Aleksei Stakhanov in the 1930s. According to the propaganda of the time, this “shock miner” was said to have extracted no less than 102 tons of coal in 6 hours… A feat to make one jealous, but quite simply unrealistic.
Let’s not forget that when the objectives to be reached are no longer in line with the means and resources available, the ideal discourages much more than it inspires.
Therefore, just as it is counterproductive to think that a super worker can extract 14 times more coal than his colleagues, it is unreasonable to believe that the modern treasurer can carry out all his missions with a little elbow grease and an Excel spreadsheet.
To meet a superhuman challenge, a worker must roll up his sleeves, but he must also and above all be able to count on the right tools to accompany him in his task.
The reality of the field
Although increasing productivity is one of the main benefits of tools such as DeftHedge treasury software, this quest for performance must not be at the expense of the quality of the treasurer’s work environment, and security, compliance and reliability issues must obviously also be taken into account.
Indeed, having powerful tools is one thing, but knowing how to use them with wisdom, discipline and discernment to make informed decisions is another.
Accepting our part of Homer Simpson, our natural tendency to procrastinate, our chronic impulsivity, and our multiple cognitive biases is therefore a necessary first step to hope to achieve a healthy ecosystem and work routines that will generate the best results in the long run.
How many treasurers are still putting off until tomorrow decisions that should be made today? How many treasurers still cover their exposures on a whim rather than out of pragmatism? How many treasurers sometimes succumb to market euphoria or panic because they have not defined a coherent foreign exchange policy ?
It should be remembered that 88% of spreadsheets contain errors… However, precisely because mistakes are human, there is no point in blaming ourselves. It is better to accept our weaknesses as they are, not to celebrate them, but simply to become aware of them and think about the best way to compensate for them.
Rather than succumb to the impostor syndrome and feel guilty about their imperfections by constantly comparing themselves to an unattainable ideal, it is in fact in the treasurer’s best interest to take the time to clearly identify their weak points in order to rely on the partners and tools most likely to cover their blind spots.
Finally, it is perhaps also worth remembering that the treasurer’s mission is not limited to monitoring and controlling purely financial criteria as an algorithm would do, but that it also aims to give meaning to the company’s financial decisions and to communicate in a pedagogical way about their rationale and practical consequences.
Consequently, the treasurer’s work environment must allow him or her to look beyond the purely financial mechanics. His or her well-being at work, as well as that of his or her colleagues, depends greatly on the comfort in which decisions can be made, even in the most urgent and stressful situations.
A true treasurer may not be able to disarm a whole gang of thieves with the double decimeter on the corner of his desk like MacGyver, but one thing is certain, his decisions make a big difference in the daily life of our economy, his company and his employees.
Therefore, it is probably best to give him the means to carry out his mission in the best possible conditions. Rest assured, he will always do his best with the cards at his disposal, and his results may well surprise you !