Can a Treasurer become a CFO ? An interview with Clément Letourneux

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Can a Treasurer become a CFO ? An interview with Clément Letourneux

During a conference of treasurers and CFOs, David Brault, Managing Partner at Objectif Cash and a partner of ACA, interviewed Clément Letourneux about how he views the roles and responsibilities of a treasurer, a position that Letourneux occupied for two decades in different contexts (medium-sized enterprises, large corporations). Letourneux also talked about changing careers to enter the CFO role.

David Brault: “Clément Letourneux, you spent two decades as a treasurer at medium-sized enterprises and large corporations, both in cash-rich and more difficult situations.  How do you sum up that experience? Do you think a treasurer can become a CFO; or would they even want to?”  

  • My career, my passion

Clément Letourneux:  My career as a treasurer was always more than just work: it was a real passion. The treasurer position covers many different, interdisciplinary roles and has a significant project dimension to it, with real challenges that provide value to the company. Treasurers handle a wide variety of subjects, including forex, digital money, digitisation of processes, and more. Treasurers use different skills, including technical, financial, and project-management skills, while also carrying out a sales role, promoting their ideas within their companies and to their boards of directors, to statutory auditors, etc.

  • The treasurer’s role: a wide range of responsibilities

Clément Letourneux: I liked to position myself as an expert strategist for LBOs and refinancing operations. Also, responsibility for financial communications is becoming increasingly important for investors: a Director of Finance and Cash Management has to be able to ‘sell’ t

heir business plans to bankers and investment funds. And within that scope of responsibility… they sometimes go head-to-head against the CFO.

  • From treasurer to CFO: a change using complementary skills

Clément Letourneux: Today, I am in the CFO role, which I believe is complementary to my past experience. At the beginning of my career, I found certain aspects of the CFO position to be less attractive, particularly the role of representation. At the same time, I was very interested in cash management. The CFO is often a former accountant or management auditor, but for situations like LBOs or cash flow problems, a treasurer can be a valuable team member because they often have significant experience in organising projects and developing tools and optimisation processes. A strength that treasurers have is that they know how to communicate internally, cross-functionally, and externally with banks, etc.

The Director of Finance and Cash Management works with the CEO, just like the CFO does. As such, they have to work together!

David Brault: So, to conclude, to sum up your remarks, you’re saying that a treasurer should not hold back! They should think about their skills, their recognized abilities for setting up projects, draw from all of their past experience and skills… and dare to take on the role of CFO if their heart tells them to.

Thank you to David Brault and Clément Letourneux.

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