Interview with Jim Washam and Matthew Hill
It was announced earlier in 2015 that Arkansas State University’s College of Business has established a Center for Treasury Management.
What is the backstory in creating this program?
Arkansas State University partnered with the Association of Financial Professionals (AFP) in 1996 to offer the Corporate Treasury Management program. This program allows our students to sit for the Certified Treasury Professional (CTP) exam after completing an approved set of courses. CTP candidates are typically required to have 2 years of treasury experience before taking the exam, but this program allows our students to satisfy the experience requirement after passing the exam. If a student passes the CTP exam, their official designation is as a CTPA until the experience requirement is satisfied. Through this program, we quickly forged close ties with industry professionals and many of our students developed an interest in treasury. Jim also developed an intense interest in treasury and cash management.
The relationship with AFP has been a huge factor in the success of our program. AFP has provided unparalleled support and resources for our faculty members and students. We incorporate information from annual conference sessions and AFP articles into our classes on a regular basis. AFP has also allowed us to develop relationships with industry professional who serve as guest speakers and advisors for the program at Arkansas State. The staff members in AFP’s Certification and Education departments have never hesitated to assist when asked. In addition to the national organization, regional associations have offered support through guest speakers and advice. At the regional level, we are especially grateful to the Mid-South AFP and Kansas City AFP for the hundreds of hours that their members have committed to advising on curriculum, speaking to classes, and visiting with our students.
Many of our graduates have found successful careers in treasury. Our alumni include Assistant Treasurers, Treasurers, Vice Presidents, Senior Managers, and Treasury Analysts. CTM program alumni have been wonderful representatives for the program. They also visit campus to speak to classes and meet with students in more informal settings.
In 2014, we decided to build on our past success and expand the program into a center of excellence within the College of Business. The first step in this process was adding Matthew Hill to our faculty. Matt is an alumni of the program and a highly respected researcher in the areas of working capital and liquidity management. We are currently in the process of finalizing the curriculum for a degree in finance with an emphasis in corporate treasury.
A gap has been identified in university programming that shows finance programs are not teaching the treasury and cash management skills needed by global organizations – what knowledge is needed by those global organizations?
Most traditional finance programs focus on longer-term, strategic issues and/or investments. Graduates tend to be well versed in capital budgeting, capital structure, equity investments, and portfolio management. The treasury management program at Arkansas State includes the traditional topics, but in the end our focus is on applied short-term finance and analytics. Global organizations need entry level treasury analysts who have an understanding of money markets, bank products, payment systems, forecasting, and the importance of cash visibility and liquidity. Graduates of a CTM program like the one at Arkansas State, begin their careers with an understanding of cash management tools and the skills to hit the ground running in a treasury analyst position. Treasury management classes are also required for our banking majors at Arkansas State.
Arkansas State University College of Business is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International, which
represents the highest standard of achievement for business schools worldwide. How does this influence your program curriculum?
The AACSB Standards are central to our program design. Our accreditation standards cover everything from financial strategies for program support, to faculty qualifications, to curriculum management, to teaching effectiveness, to academic and professional
What type of students should enroll in your program?
Our program is only offered on campus, so our students are a mix of traditional and non-traditional students from the region and international students. International students account for approximately 20% of our business majors at Arkansas State. We are looking into the possibility of an online certificate program in treasury management that would launch in a couple of years.
Your program has an advisory board of financial executives from across the country who provide input on curriculum design and serve as guest lecturers. Do you have any “real-life” connection stories that has come from this relationship?
We routinely add (and sometimes delete) topics from classes based on input from corporate practitioners. Jim had the pleasure of meeting with AFP’s Treasury Advisory Group and their input lead to a rethinking of our initial curriculum ideas. Their suggestions resulted in a broader curriculum than originally planned.
Within the past year, conversations between students and our guest lecturers have resulted in everything from student field trips to visit offices to job offers.
What are future plans for the Center for Treasury Management?
Our near term plan is to complete the renovation of new office space for the program and finalize the curriculum for a formal Emphasis in Corporate Treasury. We should have these two tasks completed and implemented for the fall 2016 semester.
We are in the process of editing the fifth edition of Essentials of Treasury Management. This project will be wrapped up by August 1st. After it is complete, we will begin working on research ideas and topics to advance the profession.
When the physical space, curriculum, and research agenda are in place, we will probably look into an online certificate in treasury management, classes to add to our graduate program, and additional ways to integrate FP&A into the program.
You mentioned the Essentials of Treasury Management which you co-authored and is published by the Association for Financial Professionals and serves as the body of knowledge for the Certified Treasury Professional exam. How did this undertaking come about?
We both teach CTP review courses for AFP and have used the Essentials of Treasury Management book in our university classes for years. Since we are both at Arkansas State, we decided to respond to the RFP for the current revision.
What is the last book you read?
Jim – I tend be reading bits and pieces of several books at the same time so defining the last book I read is difficult. For this question, I’m going with Painting with Numbers by Randall Bolten. I picked up some great tips on how to design reports and my spreadsheets.
Matt – Who Gets What and Why, by Alvin Roth (Nobel Memorial Prize Winner). The book focuses on the inner workings of “matching” markets (in which two individuals or entities) must make a joint choice. I hope to apply some of the principles to research on money market funds.