Chris Gardner - Treasurer

Chris heads up The Nottingham’s treasury department ensuring we have enough money coming in and out of the society and that we are able to make a profit.

I’m the treasurer at The Nottingham which means it’s my job to make sure we have enough cash for mortgage lending and savings withdrawals. The core business of a building society is to attract retail savings (that is savings accounts available through branch or online, for customers wanting to save with us) to then lend out on mortgages (to customers wanting to purchase a property). One of treasury’s roles is to manage a pool of liquidity (basically readily-available funds) to help manage these flows whilst also supplementing our savings inflows with money borrowed through the money markets. My team works closely with our Finance colleagues so that we are aware of what money is expected to flow in and out of the society for the days, weeks, months and even years ahead.

I joined The Nottingham in 2013, initially as deputy treasurer, before becoming treasurer in 2016, though I have worked in treasury dealing rooms for nearly 30 years. As a result I’m very much used to starting work early, preparing for when the financial markets open at 8.00am.

I’m usually at my desk by 7.00am, be that in the office or working from home, and spend the first hour catching up on emails since the previous day, overnight news and market movements.

Any dealing that we do tends to be in the morning, either lending surplus cash in the bank account or borrowing in the wholesale markets (most people will have seen the pictures on TV of the dealing rooms in London with dealers shouting at each other; our dealing room is much smaller and less frantic but in essence we do the same kind of thing). All deals have to be reviewed by myself or my deputy before they can be actioned by our finance team and any cash moved. As a team we turnover around £10m to £20m every day, and up to £100m on a busy day. Given the amounts involved you can imagine there are plenty of tight controls in place to manage the risks.

One of treasury’s roles is to manage the interest rate risk the society is running (this is the risk of interest rates moving differently to how we have planned), largely a result of the fixed rate mortgage lending we do. Fixed rate mortgage customers pay the same interest rate for the duration of the fixed period (generally up to five years), giving them certainty over their repayments even if interest rates rise. In treasury we transact deals to offset some of this interest rate risk, thereby ensuring the society earns the profit margin it expects from the lending we do. The money markets we deal in to do this are sometimes volatile, and so we have availability to a wealth of financial market data and also keep an eye on the news, both domestic and worldwide, to try and gain an understanding of what impact this could have on the UK economy and interest rates.

I maintain an extensive to-do list that gets updated regularly, but then I’ll also have a smaller list of priorities for the coming week to discuss with the team. This can be anything from reading updates to regulation, preparing presentations for external stakeholders or formulating a view of what impact Brexit or a Bank of England rate change could have. I also like to make time to talk to new colleagues about what treasury do, either as part of the Insight day that all new starters go through, or on a one-to-one basis. Due to regulation the treasury team sit in a restricted access area, therefore I feel it is important to get out and see people as they can’t come to us.

We have deadlines to meet for production of management information for committee papers. I attend a number of committee meetings myself, and though most are monthly there are some that occur every week, and I probably spend on average a day a week either attending or reading the papers beforehand. It is important to be prepared for these as key decisions can be made, therefore I make good use of my calendar to manage my time, blocking out a morning if I need to read anything, and I also make sure I allocate some time for my team to have a catch up.

If I’m working at the office I try and make the best use of my commuting time; I listen to financial news on the way in if I am going to the office, and then catch up with calls on the way home and I always have a backlog of podcasts to catch up on – either to learn something or to give me a laugh if it has been a long day. It is important to me to have some quality family time, therefore once I’m home I shut the door and I don’t think about work until the next day.


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