My Life in Treasury
Garry Beardshall, Treasury Manager, Ravenscroft Group
Ask questions, refuse to be pigeonholed and keep a sense of humour, these are just three pieces of advice to newcomers to the profession from Garry Beardshall. And when his head isn’t deep into treasury management, Garry can be found testing himself with off-road enduro biking across mountain ranges or simply fishing off the end of a jetty.
How did you come into treasury and what attracted you to the profession?
I first started my career in the early 1980s, working for a UK clearing bank in the payments section, creating authenticated telex payments, feeding ticker tapes through a telex machine. I was presented with the opportunity to move to the bank’s offshore asset and liability management (ALM) treasury division, which was primarily a group funding operation. I was immediately attracted to the profession given the strict and exacting deadlines one had to work to, with no two days being the same, and the daily communication with the various divisions within the group.
How has your career progressed through to the role that you hold today?
I have been very fortunate during my career to have worked for a variety of financial institutions, starting with a high street bank. After some time I was drawn to the idea of trading and worked as an arbitrage trader for an investment bank. Following that role and, having moved banks again, I eventually went into treasury, becoming the treasurer operating in three offshore locations. From there, I went on to run the offshore treasury division of one of Europe’s largest hedge fund managers for a number of years. I then moved into my current role overseeing the treasury function of an asset manager. I have had the opportunity to work in a number of jurisdictions alongside colleagues from many cultures, but have always been drawn back to the nine-by-five-mile rock called Jersey. I like to be close to the sea so I can enjoy my passion for water sports, including boating and paddle boarding or just a simple bit of fishing off a jetty.
How have the demands and needs of treasury changed over the course of your career, and what particular skills does the role require today?
The greatest changes I have seen and experienced in treasury have occurred over the past 10 years, post the Lehman Brothers crisis in 2008 resulting in increased regulatory and reporting requirements. However, the reduction in interest volatility seen over the past 10 years compared with that of the 1980s and 1990s has made the managing of interest rate risk a lot easier. Increasingly automated processes have enabled today’s treasurer to have a better helicopter view of the operation. I don’t believe the skill sets of a treasurer have changed that much over the course of time. These include being strong in communication and negotiation skills both internally and externally of the treasury division. Treasury continues to be the engine room of many organisations, ensuring liquidity/funding and investment are successfully provided to all divisions. Ultimately, treasury is a service and solution provider to the business.
What specific, or perhaps surprising, qualities do you look for when recruiting treasury personnel?
I don’t believe one can stereotype a person who works in treasury. However, the people I look for are enthusiastic, numeric individuals with a keen eye for detail who are happy to work to exacting deadlines. It always helps if they are a team player with a sense of humour. A willingness to understand all aspects of the business is paramount because this will help them to deliver a superior level of service to the organisation, and will also aid the formulation of treasury strategy.
How important do you think a formal treasury education is, as opposed to (or as well as) more general finance or accountancy qualifications?
Without doubt, a formal treasury education will accelerate technical knowledge. This, combined with-on-the-job experience will create a rounded treasury individual. While exposure to accountancy practices will bring benefits to the treasury role, it is not a prerequisite to becoming a successful treasury individual.
What about wider experience in the world of business. Is that valuable too?
While experience in other areas of a business may be valuable, this is not essential to working in treasury. By virtue of its function, treasury will provide exposure, over time, to internal and external counterparties/business lines and stakeholders.
Based on your career so far, what would your advice be to finance professionals who are perhaps in their first treasury role?
Ask questions, ask questions, ask questions. No one will expect you to have the answers at the outset, but over time and as your career progresses, colleagues will expect you to have those answers. Ensure you rotate your role in treasury to learn all aspects and don’t be pigeonholed into one particular area. Learning and understanding the underlying business to which your treasury function provides services will help you understand the treasury demands of the business. Never lose sight of the necessity to maintain sufficient liquidity at all times because this is the lifeblood of any business.