By Chris Parker

After two years of record-breaking hiring across just about all sectors in 2021/22, 2023 has unfortunately been the year of market correction. Job flow has been down 30% year on year, economic headwinds have resulted in hire freezes and business consolidations, and consequent redundancies have handed us a skills rich market in which, for the first time since the pandemic, supply is outweighing demand. This generally means increased competition for employment, salary stagnation, less innovation around benefits, and an increase in temporary/unsecured hiring. 

It’s not the most uplifting opener to an End Of Year summary, I agree.

The good news, however, is that this isn’t entirely true of the treasury market. Whilst job flow has dropped over the last 12 months, it has been to a lesser extent – only around 18% – with hiring remaining fairly consistent throughout the year and notably tilting away from the more junior-mid level towards mid-senior and specialist hiring. Examples of this would be seeing businesses that last year were hiring treasury analysts and managers for broad spectrum roles to build up and pad out their treasury teams have this year been seeking interest rate or FX risk specialists, liquidity SME and TMS experts to really develop and hone their functions capabilities.

This has, overall, been well timed both for employers and candidates. As the market has moved into slowdown mode, many of the larger consultancies and banks with highly refined treasury functions have been consolidating their workforces, which has meant there has been an above average amount of specialist candidates on the market but which, generally speaking, have found new roles with an SME space that is increasingly hungry for knowledge. Overall, it is a very good time to be a market specialist – on the risk side, specifically within IR and FX, and on the TMS side, in Kyriba and Integrity, as just about every business seems to be deciding on one of these two currently.

An ongoing challenge to moving talent this year has been around salary and package expectations. After 18 months of consistent hikes in salary on the backdrop of a still low-interest market that didn’t necessarily need this level of wage growth, 2023 has felt like it has come at the wrong time – life got more expensive just as businesses decided they were, finally, paying enough.

We have seen the results of this play out in numerous ways this year – candidates with unachievable expectations (especially at the junior end!), challenges in turning the right heads, and, most painfully, increasing ease around employer’s counter offering. The smaller the jump, the easier it is to match or beat. This has resulted in longer processes, more going back to square one, and generally more difficult conversations and disappointment on both candidate and client sides. That said, however, in the same way, businesses need a bad year to reset their forecast figures, it does feel like this problem is slowly easing – the main reasons being increasing competition between candidates and, as lots of businesses are being exposed as resting on shaky foundations, a mindset shift away from moving jobs for a salary jump and towards those of strategic, long term career focused moves.

Another area this year that has been slightly tougher on candidates has been at the senior end of the market. Not that I’ve ever heard a Group Treasurer whingeing about having too much choice, but 2023 especially feels like it has been slow at the top, with only a few big moves and a mixture of strong succession planning and general restructuring meaning that they haven’t created the domino effect this end of the market often relies on. That said, if we were to track the post-pandemic treasury hiring market – junior to mid-level team building in 21/2 and mid-senior/specialist skill sets in 2023 then it serves to reason that with an ongoing focus around treasury as a strategic and value-added board partner mixed with growing restlessness in the number one role, it does feel like 2024 could well be the year of the Treasurer.

My takeaways:

  • Treasury remains an area of investment for many businesses and is generally a more buoyant area than most – if you’re in it, it’s a good choice; if not, consider it! Especially if you’re coming out of practice.
  • Specialist skills (IR, FX, Liq risk/data analytics, DCM, TMS implementations etc) are all increasingly valuable. If you’ve got them, fantastic, and if not, then look at where you can develop them – in an increasingly specialised space, this is how you future proof yourself.
  • Be pragmatic about your next move – we all want more money, but an extra £15K for a role you’re gaining nothing from vs an extra £5K in one that you are deserves some thought. Be strategic, be long sighted, and be patient.
  • Bounce! What goes up will come down, but if it bounces, it will go back up again. A bit twee, maybe, but bouncing, in this case, is being resilient, and if it has been a tough year, which it has for many, keeping focused, making your own luck, and trusting things will get better is the key to a strong 2024. 

Thanks for reading. Feel free to reach out with questions or comments, and if we don’t speak before, have a good Christmas!

Chris Parker | Senior Executive Consultant – Treasury
chris.parker@goodmanmasson.com
+44 (0)207 324 0570

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