Companies have spent a lot of money over the years to automate their treasury operations. But a new benchmarking survey by the Association for Financial Professionals suggests that a bigger factor in improving treasury efficiency is having well-educated, regularly trained and seasoned employees in treasury departments.

AFP's third annual benchmark survey found that the educational level of treasury staff was a leading indicator of efficiency, says Tom Hunt, AFP's treasury services director. For example, when treasury functions such as bank account reconciliation or forecasting were done by employees with M.B.A.s, it took half as many people to handle the job as when M.B.A.s weren't involved. When certified employees did the same work, it took one-third fewer staff, the study found.

Similarly, the study found that for most treasury operations, those departments where staff spent an average of four to six days a year in training to stay current on industry, technology and regulatory changes significantly outperformed departments whose staff only received two days a year of such training. However, training beyond six days provided a declining benefit.

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