A global symbol of excellence, the Certified Treasury Professional (CTP) designation sets the standard in the treasury profession. Earning the CTP signifies that you have demonstrated the knowledge and skills required to effectively execute critical functions related to corporate liquidity, capital and risk management.
AFP recently caught up with Rohit Raj, CTP, digital manager at HSBC in India, to discuss his decision to earn the CTP, and how it has affected his life and career journey.
AFP: How did you get your start in treasury?
Rohit: After earning my MBA with a specialization in banking and finance, I decided to resume my career in corporate banking. Due to my inclination towards product management, I took roles in the product and digital teams within transaction banking. As part of my role, I design and develop products and solutions for our corporate customers’ treasury teams. To fulfill my responsibilities, I interact with my sales and relationship management team to identify latest needs from treasurers, coupled with direct interaction with treasury teams to gain a better understanding of their needs and identify the right product or solution. Furthermore, I carry out my own research and attend conferences to keep myself updated with the latest happenings in the treasury space.
AFP: What are two or three core aspects of your day-to-day job?
Rohit: The core aspects of my day-to-day job include:
- Product development: I work with internal stakeholders (such as sales and relationship management teams) and external stakeholders (such as client’s treasury and finance team, industry bodies, etc.) to understand their needs and requirements, and then I work with IT teams to design and develop solutions to meet them.
- Product customization (bespoke client requirements): Since each treasury and finance teams are structured differently having various internal policies and procedures, the product requirement drastically changes from one corporate to the other. Therefore, it is important to have detailed discussions and workshops to understand their exact requirement, and then working with IT teams to deliver customized solutions to meet the needs.
- Efficiency gains in treasury operations: I regularly engage treasury teams to identify further opportunity and scope for efficiency gains by streamlining processes, redesigning processes and workflows; playing a consultancy role in advising on the products and solutions to be leveraged; and following best practices and upcoming trends in the industry.
AFP: What is something that you would like to do in the future in treasury?
Rohit: Currently, I am trying to assist clients to carry out their treasury operations efficiently by offering them suitable banking products and solutions. In future, I would love to implement my knowledge and experience gained from banking domain in the treasury space. We often hear the phrase, “Time is Money,” and it is all the more important for treasury. I would like to carry out digitization, automation, and process improvements to make the treasury operations more efficient and save time leading to significant gains both in terms of manpower saves and financial gains.
AFP: Are there certain skills or training that help you in what you do now?
Rohit: The domain expertise and knowledge of corporate banking as a whole – especially focusing on transaction banking, payments and liquidity management, trade and receivable finance, and foreign exchanges – helps me in carrying out my day-to-day job. Apart from the domain knowledge, general understanding of treasury functions, finance functions, risk management, and industry standards (SWIFT standards, ISO 20022, etc.) gives me an edge in having engaging and thought-provoking discussions with customer’s treasury teams.
In addition to these hard skills, having soft skills such as relationship management, customer engagement, curiosity, and connectivity skills drives discussions that get the right level of insights and information from the treasury teams thus aiding the implementation of the best possible solution
AFP: What skills are most important to you to add over the next couple of years?
Rohit: As the world today is changing at an unprecedented pace, keeping oneself updated and continuously working on reskilling is of utmost importance to stay relevant. The upcoming trends and themes that I have experienced are pressing needs for speed, convenience, end-to-end user experience and value-added services in all the treasury operations. These needs can be solved by adopting digitization and re-engineering of the treasury processes.
To achieve these solutions for my organization and our customers’ treasury teams, I am working to learn skills such as design thinking, digital transformation and growth mindset, which equip me with a framework to challenge the status quo and earlier accepted processes in a critical manner so that I can identify further scope of improvement. In addition, I am adding new age skills and technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), API, data analytics, cloud strategy, open banking, and open finance to my skillset so that I can leverage these technologies and concepts in my domain of banking, finance and treasury.
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AFP: What is the most critical treasury issue you are facing today?
Rohit: Based on my interactions with the treasury and finance teams, the issue that gets highlighted most frequently is corporate’s challenge in B2B payments. In B2B payments, payment initiation is not the challenge, rather it is the pre-validation and post-transaction activities. Finance and treasury teams spend a significant amount of time performing pre-validation activities, including ensuring data is correct and accurate, beneficiary that is being paid is genuine, purpose of payment is accurate, forecasting payment outflows and inflows, arranging for sufficient liquid funds to fulfill the payments, and preparation of payment runs.
Moreover, the treasury and finance teams spend efforts in post-transaction activities such as reconciling payments; taking corrective actions on rejected payments; resolving queries and disputes from suppliers and customers related to payments; knocking off open invoices; spending categorization and revenue categorization to gain insights; and doing predictions. With an exponential increase in B2B payments, the problem for the treasury teams has grown multiple folds in the recent years and they end up spending a significant amount of time, money and resources to carry out these activities. Corporate banking divisions are constantly being approached by treasury teams to help them bring efficiency to the entire B2B payment journey by designing products and solutions that are customized to their specific requirements.
AFP: Can you share your approach to this issue?
Rohit: To bring efficiency to the entire B2B payments and receivables process, we follow a consultative approach with the treasury and finance teams. We try to gather as much information and dig as deep as possible to fully understand their current state, target state and internal constraints such as internal policies, fund availability, timelines and technological limitations. Once we have the full information, we get into brainstorming sessions both internally in the bank and also with the client’s treasury team to propose solutions such as achieving straight through processing, reducing manual intervention, and following industry standards (SWIFT, ISO 20022, etc.).
We also advise client’s IT teams to build resilient systems, implement self-help tools and value-added services, and achieve automation by leveraging solutions offered by the banks. We also carry out an advisory role in terms of guidance on cloud strategy, robust data strategy to leverage on AI and ML capabilities. Instead of treasury team doing manual reconciliation of their books by downloading bank statement in bank proprietary format by logging into bank portal, automation can be achieved by client utilizing automated reconciliation program by integrating their Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) or Treasury Management System (TMS) with bank’s statement and using SWIFT standard bank statement such as MT940. We may also advise treasury team to use our AI-based cash flow forecasting models and dashboards to assist them with an accurate forecasting of their fund’s inflow and outflow.
Since every corporate’s situation and requirements are unique, there is no one-size-fits-all solution available. Rather, we follow the above approach individually on a case-to-case basis and advise solutions that are most suitable and apt for the corporate customer.
AFP: Why did you decide to earn the CTP?
Rohit: As part of my day-to-day role, I have gained an in-depth knowledge of my domain in banking and finance. I also have a fair understanding of treasury operations due to my interactions with the treasury teams and experience of designing and implementing banking solutions for treasury teams.
In order to add another dimension to my profile, I decided to earn the CTP certification as I knew it would help me gain a detailed theoretical knowledge and understanding of how treasuries work, best practices followed in the industry, upcoming trends, and strategic importance of the treasury function in the overall organizational context. Going through the course content made me more aware about the treasury concepts that further fueled my imaginational and curiosity to learn more about treasury functions. Earning the CTP will help me gain access to practitioner forums and industry events, thus staying connected with like-minded people and learning from their experiences.
The CTP certification also helps demonstrates expertise in treasury knowledge and provides career flexibility by preparing me to be eligible and relevant for taking up a treasury role.
AFP: How has the CTP credential impacted your life/career?
Rohit: The CTP knowledge made me more aware about the treasury function and ignited my curiosity to dive deeper into this field, whether it is during customer interactions, interaction with other treasury professionals, or during my own personal learning or research. I have been able to apply the learning into my day-to-day job and receive better outcomes compared to my pre-CTP credential outcomes.
The CTP knowledge has also helped me be more confident when talking about treasury functions and has opened up lot of career opportunities in treasury and finance area, thus providing career flexibility and improving my marketability.
Furthermore, the CTP credential has helped me establish myself as a qualified and knowledgeable professional within my organization and among our customers. It has helped me get involved in several high-profile projects and product developments of strategic importance for my organization.
Finally, the continuous learning aspect of the CTP credential helps keep me abreast with all the latest happenings and developments in the treasury space.
AFP: Would you recommend the CTP to others? Why?
Rohit: The CTP credential is unique because it helps to gain an understanding and appreciation of the treasury function in the overall organizational context. It is beneficial for not only professionals directly working in the treasury function but also for other professionals who directly or indirectly interact with treasury functions, including corporate banking, transaction banking, finance, and taxation.
The CTP credential helps demonstrate expertise in treasury knowledge, which is beneficial in a lot of career roles and boosts relevancy of the individual. I would recommend the CTP credential to any individual who is currently working or aspires to work in either a treasury role or any role that is related to the treasury function. The credential helps demonstrates your expertise in this field and prepares you to adapt to all the changes that the treasury function is going through or is expected to go in upcoming times.
The CTP credential helps you gain access to a wide array of resources related to treasury knowledge such as practitioner forums, industry events, seminars, treasury magazines and continuous learning. All of these resources help increase your potential in the professional space, provide career flexibility, improve you marketability and enhance your job security.