My Life in Treasury
Chris McLoughlin, Senior Treasury Manager, Worldpay
If you ever find yourself being interviewed by Chris McLoughlin, tell him all about the times things went pear-shaped during your working day. He values confidence, resilience and tenacity in his team members and, in return, he offers adaptability, flexibility and empathy as a manager. “No one can do it alone,” he advises his peers. “So ensure everyone is along for the ride.”
How did you come into treasury and what attracted you to the profession?
My first couple of roles at Worldpay involved working closely with the treasury function, both from an operational and a project delivery perspective. The bulk of my interaction was during the plan to open a Worldpay branch in the Netherlands and customer migration. I was the project lead for Operations and Treasury, so had to get to grips with the treasury requirements and deliverables in a very short space of time.
The more I learned about treasury over time, the more I thought I could carve out a career in that space. Treasury appealed to me as the skills you develop are industry wide; every company has a treasury function. So in terms of career development, I thought that learning a central function role in treasury would open up more paths and opportunities later down the line.
How has your career progressed through to the role that you hold today?
My first role was in securities confirmations with the Bank of New York. I then moved into the treasury department, working on the CLS team and then eventually supervising the reconciliation team. I was there for nearly five years and learned a lot about the finance and banking industry. From there I moved to the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), working on FX projects and special purpose vehicles (SPVs) for just shy of three years.
In early 2013, I felt like I needed a change of scenery from investment banking and began to look for other opportunities. Worldpay was hiring in literally the office next door and I applied for a reconciliation role. Upon interview, the hiring team decided to place me in a supervisory capacity and I took up the post in March 2013. I spent six weeks learning all about the card and payments industry in Worldpay’s offices in Harrogate and Gateshead before embarking on the migration of some roles from those offices to Manchester.
Six months later I was asked to work on the new platform project as part of the continued separation from RBS. It was while focusing on that initiative that I really began to expand my Worldpay-centric knowledge and wider business knowledge in general, including how projects are run, their documentation and managing upwards. These have all stood me in good stead as I have progressed over the years.
Mid 2014 was when Worldpay launched its Dutch entity initiative and I was asked to head this up for Operations and Treasury. Being honest, I most definitely tried to lay the groundwork for a future role within the treasury team, as the items we were working on from a project standpoint were incredibly interesting to me.
As it then went live at the start of 2015, I was liaising with treasury on a daily basis as my role had ceased and I was leading the payments team for that entity. Eventually I found my way back on to the company’s new platform project for nine months before accepting a Treasury Manager role.
It was quite a change from my previous positions and one that, quite frankly, I took the best part of a year to get to grips with. Worldpay being a global payments provider, with large numbers of bank accounts and various different products, can throw up its fair share of complexity from time to time in the treasury space. Thankfully, I have some excellent analysts on the team who have been able to support me and share some of their knowledge in helping the team become what it is today. Since the merger with Vantiv in January 2018, the team has been working non-stop and become a real driver of change and efficiency within the business. My role now involves more strategic planning and execution and delivering our cash performance targets in smarter ways.
How have the demands and needs of treasury changed over the course of your career, and what particular skills does the role require today?
For me, the main demands have been keeping up with two evolving, fast-paced items: Worldpay itself within the payments industry and the treasury landscape. Keeping on top of those two and ensuring we are meeting the needs of the business while also creating a slick, efficient treasury has been challenging but also very rewarding. Leading staff through all the recent changes has also been crucial, being transparent and open with colleagues has enabled us to accelerate through the change curve and pull together as demands and changes within the business have increased.
Given how fast-paced both payments and treasury are, I would say being adaptable, flexible and empathetic of the impacts of this constant motion on your team are the most important skills required of the Treasury Manager today. No one can do it alone, so ensure everyone is along for the ride and that someone can learn something out of every situation.
What specific, or perhaps surprising, qualities do you look for when recruiting treasury personnel?
Resilience and tenacity. More often than not, I will ask in interviews questions about less than positive incidents in someone’s career or how they have overcome some form of adversity. I do this because I’m looking to see if they have learned from the experience and are well aware that day-to-day life, particularly in treasury, isn’t always rosy. Things can go wrong and, as treasury, you’re typically in the firing line to deal with them. Having the calmness and confidence to deal with situations in a time of crisis is critical.
How important do you think a formal treasury education is, as opposed to (or as well as) more general finance or accountancy qualifications?
Having studied the CertTF and CertICM with the ACT, I really do advocate taking these qualifications as they provide industry-wide context to your business-specific process. One of the senior analysts on the team has passed CIMA and this has also proved to be highly beneficial in terms of our treasury accounting processes. All in all, I would say the ACT qualifications are great for cash and strategic treasury roles, while traditional accounting qualifications can also be used. Most of the team here at Worldpay are studying through the ACT to progress within treasury.
What about wider experience in the world of business. Is that valuable too?
I found having worked in banking previously was immensely valuable when I made the transition to the world of treasury. My previous experience gave me a rudimentary grasp of the finance world and how areas including SWIFT messages, basic banking, currency exchange worked. I still use some of those learnings from years ago today. It is extremely valuable, in my opinion, to bring other experience into the world of treasury. Treasury generally faces off to most people, so knowing both sides of a business is extremely useful. If you are currently in a role where your colleagues are equipping themselves with this type of knowledge, I would advise that you do so too, and understand as much as you possibly can as to how everything knits together.