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Ask the Graduate: Global Treasury Analyst and Trader

RO Central Team - Thursday, May 30, 2019
Posted 4 months ago

June 2019

Hello, my name is Scott Harrison and I studied Physics at Newcastle University. I now work for Procter & Gamble (P&G) as a Treasury Analyst and Trader.

This article is intended to give you a flavour of what a typical day is like working in treasury at a multi-national company. Before I begin explaining who P&G is (although I’m hoping you will know us by our brands if not our name) and what a typical day looks like for me let’s start with an a-typical day and what’s happening right now! I’m currently writing this article in Amsterdam airport waiting for my connection back to Newcastle. I’ve been fortunate enough to spend the week in New York, meeting with an IT provider on a project to upgrade one of our key treasury IT systems.

Working for a large multi-national company that has its head office based in Cincinnati, Ohio and a presence in most countries across the globe does, on occasion, enable me to travel for work. Travel is usually for projects, training and meetings with external service providers such as our banking partners. I’ve been fortunate enough this year to travel to Singapore, Cincinnati and New York.

For my A-levels I studied Physics, Maths and Computing and chose to do Physics at university because it was my favourite subject throughout school and college. I never considered what I would like to do for a career until my last year of university, which – if I’m honest - is probably not great advice to follow. The skills that you develop in a science or mathematics degree lend themselves to a career in the world of finance though as apart from the obvious ‘being good with numbers’ you also develop an inquisitive nature to learn how things work along with strong analytical and problem-solving skills. I use all of these skills in my current role.

After uni I started working for a mutual building society in Newcastle before joining P&G in 2008. Since joining P&G I have worked in the area of Finance and Accounting for the past eleven years in various roles before joining the treasury team three years ago. During this time, I’ve also studied through P&G for a professional qualification becoming a member of the Association for Certified Chart Accountants (ACCA).

Who is Procter & Gamble (P&G)? P&G is ‘the largest consumer goods company in the world’. Our brands such as Pampers, Gillette, Ariel, Fairy, Olay, Oral B and Braun to name but a few, are trusted in millions of homes worldwide. Our global sales were 67 Billion USD last year and our net operating profit was 14 Billion USD.

What is a treasury analyst and trader? P&G operates its own in-house bank allowing it to do most of the tasks you would associate with a business bank: e.g. take deposits, invest externally, lend cash between P&G businesses, carry out foreign exchange (FX) transactions and make payments for goods and services between the different divisions of P&G. On a day to day basis I manage the cash and risk for this in-house bank ensuring each of the P&G businesses who are members of this bank have the right amount of cash in the right currency in the right place at the right time.

My working day starts shortly before 9am – this is great as I have time to drop my children off at school before my commute to work. We are based in a large, modern open plan office on a business park outside of Newcastle so I don’t have a lengthy or busy commute (I can also park at work).

There are five of us in the team that manage the bulk of P&G’s cash (which is in the tens of billions of dollars!!!) We spend a lot of time together as a team due to the nature of work we do and the fact our roles and responsibilities are so intertwined. It’s very important that we work effectively as a team and get on well with each other to ensure everyone is on the same page. We eat lunch together most days and socialise fairly often outside of work.

I start my day like 99% of people who work in an office type environment – catching up on emails.

I then plan my day looking at any project activity or deadlines that are needed along with specific areas of our in-house bank that are under my responsibility such as managing loans and forecasts. I also spend a bit of time in the morning reading articles and commentary on what’s happening in the world politically and in the financial markets. Having an interest in these two topics is a must in my role as you need to understand what is happening in the world and how this may impact what is going on in a particular financial market that day.

The rest of my morning before 11am may be spent in team meetings making sure we are sharing critical information on projects, investment plans, forecasts or big FX trades coming up.

If I’m responsible for managing our trading desk then I will start to trade around 11am. Like any bank we have core hours that we are open to allow our members to invest or withdraw cash. After this point we prevent further withdrawals or deposits before beginning to trade and invest those positions.

If I’m trading I will be buying and selling FX, making investments or raising short term debt. If I am working the FX desk I am trading either via the telephone or over an FX trading platform with one of our banking partners. We have relationships with most of the major financial institutions that you would find in New York or London. I’m usually converting any excess foreign currency into USD (as we’re an American owned company). The USD received is then invested by the other trading desk. The numbers we trade aren’t small – usually in the tens of millions of USD so there’s a bit of pressure to the job to ensure you are getting the right deal for the company in line with our trading protocols.If I’m on the investment or debt management desk I would be phoning brokers to raise debt for the company in the US debt markets or invest in securities and other corporate and government debt. Again, it’s all about understanding the market you are in and where P&G sits within this market from a credit rating perspective to get the right deal for the company.

My working day normally finishes between 5 & 6pm and I rarely work weekends unless I am travelling. Occasionally, I may have project calls in the evening with our treasury team in Cincinnati who we report in to and who manage our longer-term financing and risk management strategies.

As part of the role I also get the opportunity to attend dinner meetings with our corporate banking partners to discuss trade execution results and new financial products and services as maintaining strong working relationships with our banks is key to ensuring we are up-to-date with the latest market information and products and services available.

I hope you enjoyed reading a bit about my job – please do ask me any questions you have by 17 June.

Questions & answers

1.What helped you choose what course to do and which university to go to?

Physics and the sciences were always my favourite subjects in School. I’ve always wanted to understand how things work. I was also an Air Cadet when I was younger so learning about aircraft and how they operate always fascinated me. Because I found this area fascinating I decided to study a subject that I enjoyed and wanted to learn more about. When applying for university I never thought about what career I wanted post-graduation. I wouldn’t recommend this – choose a subject you love but make sure you have an idea of career in your mind as you progress through University. I chose physics and engineering courses at universities in the North East with strong reputations in these fields and ultimately chose to read Physics. The reputation of the university was the deciding factor on the final offer/course.

 

2. Do you have any study tips for Maths A-level?

If I’m being honest, I wasn’t extremely successful at A-level Maths and I think it was down to two factors, not being used to not grasping certain topics first time (I was always very good at maths at school) and being afraid to ask for support or extra help when struggling. I took extra maths modules (at a level higher than A-level) in my first year of University and easily passed each one of them so my advice would be to ensure you seek support if you don’t grasp a topic first time. Listen to your tutors and ask them to maybe explain a topic in a different way if it’s not sinking in or looking for alternative tutors/resources that suit your learning style.

 

3. How important is work experience for a job like yours?

Any relevant work experience, such as an internship, is more often than not, going to help you in applying for jobs in most industries. Whilst not critical, it will help to give you examples of where you have demonstrated the experience, skills and personal qualities a company is looking for when interviewing for a position. Additionally, careers continue to become more and more fluid in terms of employees moving from company to company. This is especially true in Finance and Accounting as the skills are so transferable. Bringing outside experience into a company can help improve processes and results. Also, don’t forget, work experience will help you get an idea of what a career in that industry is like if you are still deciding which career path to choose.

 

4. How do you make sure you are up-to-date with the latest market information? Is it hard or stressful?

Keeping up to date with the latest market information can be tricky because of the sheer number of data sources out there. We tend to focus on a few key data sources which include:

  • accessing a very well-known market data, news and economics tool terminal
  • TV’s in our department showing the latest financial market news and headlines
  • daily news digests from our partner banks which contain condensed analysis on market, economic and political information with access to deeper analysis from their experts
  • access to our partner banks’ proprietary systems which give more specific FX market information.
  • Sometimes the role can be quite hard and fairly stressful on critical trading days such as at a month end when the volume of trading increases. I have received in-depth role training and had to undergo a certification process before I was qualified to trade plus we have continuous development programes available to us to continue to build our expertise. I also work in a very close, very collaborative team who are always willing to support each other during stressful times. Both these things help reduce the stresses in the role.

     

    5. What is your favourite and least favourite part of your job?

    My favourite part of my role is the active trading. Being responsible for making split second decisions on whether to agree to deal or not on a trade to the value of tens of millions of USD does give you an adrenaline rush each and every time. We aren’t in the market to speculate though. It’s all about understanding the risks and exposures the company has and trading to get the right deal for the company within strict protocols.

    Its difficult to find a least favourite part of my job. We do have to produce a lot of reports and data analysis which can involve a lot of data extraction and manipulation before we get to the value-added analysis piece, so I guess running reports and doing non-value add data manipulation can be a little tedious. That said we have a culture of process improvement in our team and Company that continually asks, ‘how can I make this process better?’ and ‘how can I remove this non-value add work?’ therefore we look at any opportunity to remove this work by using new software and technology such as robotic data manipulation tools and even artificial intelligence.

     

    6. How do you find out about the work/life balance of a job before you work there?

    Good question! There are a number of careers, such as medical professions and emergency services, whereby you know the working hours are likely to involve long hours and shift work but for other careers your work life balance can vary not just by employer but also by role and seniority within the company. Accounting and Finance roles, whilst not normally involving shift work, may require you to work extended hours occasionally, for example when closing your accounting period, preparing financial statements for the year or during a busy audit period.

    My tips for trying to research work life balance in a career or role would be as follows:

  • Try and research examples of work/life balance in roles in the industry you are looking to work in before you embark on a career in that industry. For example, you could research career blogs and articles by employees already working in that industry from professional body websites. Many industries have professional bodies who produce magazines, reports and articles to help existing and prospective members.
  • When applying for jobs with a particular company see if you can find out about the ethos and culture of that company – especially towards work/life balance via their website. Big corporates are increasingly recognising the importance of work/life balance and are actively advertising how they promote this in their organisation. This may be trickier is smaller organisations though.
  • Work experience such as an internship is also a great way to not only get valuable work experience in that industry, which should improve your employability, but should also give you an idea if a career in that industry is right for you. Remember though, employers and roles are very different.