The Main Role of the Treasurer

The role of a treasurer, whether she's working for a nonprofit organization or a corporation, involves keeping tabs on an organization's money. In some organizations, the treasurer is a member of the board, but in others she is a manager or director reporting to the CFO. She needs a strong background in finance, but training as an accountant isn't always a requirement.

The Treasurer's Roles and Responsibilities

On paper, a treasurer's role would appear to be all about the money. After all, an organization's finances are overseen, if not directly managed, by the treasurer. According to Robert Half, a treasurer usually needs at least 10 years of experience in finance and, they point out, a background in public accounting is preferable.

However, like other executive positions, the second primary role of a treasurer is to build and maintain relationships. Specifically, they need to have good relationships with bankers, investors, creditors and staff. In a small organization, day-to-day finance activities, including bookkeeping, may be part of a treasurer's job. In larger organizations, they oversee the work of accountants and others in the finance or accounting department.

Duties of a treasurer usually include:

  • Building relationships with commercial bankers and maintaining those relationships so they are always in a position to discuss financing options
  • Researching financing alternatives, analyzing options and providing recommendations to the board
  • Structuring debt arrangements with lenders
  • Ensuring compliance with lender agreements
  • Managing corporate investments
  • Monitoring cash flow
  • Communicating the organization's operating and financial strategies to investors and creditors
  • Hiring, training and retaining skilled staff in the finance or accounting departments

How to Become a Treasurer

The requirements of a treasurer often depend on the size and budget of the organization. A treasurer at a Fortune 500 company would require more experience – often specifically in the type of business the company engages in – than a small company. Small, newly founded charitable organizations often look for volunteers with a background in finance to work as treasurers on a part-time basis.

Nevertheless, you should have at least a bachelor's degree in finance, accounting or economics. An MBA or financial certification, such as being a CPA, is usually preferred. You should have working experience in finance before applying for a position as a treasurer.

Treasurers and Other Financial Managers

Many of a treasurer's responsibilities can overlap with other financial management and executive positions, depending on the organization. An example of this is the title of chief finance officer (CFO), who typically has the same responsibilities as a treasurer. In larger corporations with both a CFO and a treasurer, the CFO usually reports to the treasurer. Other financial management positions include:

  • Controllers, who oversee financial report preparation, including income statements and balance sheets, as well as accounting, audits and budgets
  • Credit managers, who oversee credit offered by the company, including credit limits and collections of past-due accounts
  • Cash managers, who oversee the flow of money in and out of an organization, including projections of cash shortages or surpluses
  • Risk managers, who analyze financial uncertainties and estimate the chances of financial loss, like those that come from currency or commodity price changes
  • Insurance managers, who determine how to limit losses by protecting against risks, such as for disability payments to an employee, or for costs associated with lawsuits against the company

In 2019, the median income of financial managers was ​$129,890​, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This means half made more than this figure, while half made less. in May 2019. The top 10 percent earned more than ​$208,000​, while the lowest 10 percent earned less than ​$68,370​.