Hilary Heah, Treasury Manager, Kelkoo

Published 19 July 2023

Hilary Heah was awarded a Fitch scholarship to study for the Certificate in Treasury, which gave him an introductory qualification in the field and allowed him to embed himself in the ACT community.

I am the Treasury Manager at Kelkoo, which is a marketing intelligence company that connects merchants to publishers.

Merchants looking to boost their e-commerce strategies come to Kelkoo to ensure the best-in-class advertisement is being utilised to expand the market reach for them.

We operate in most of the major European markets, as well as the Americas and Greater Asia. I sit in the treasury function of the group where my team and I look after the end-to-end procure-to-pay process, liquidity and working capital, to ensure that we are operating in the most effective manner. That also includes managing the debt covenants and the relationships with the banks. Essentially, anything cash related comes to my team.

Treasury, specifically, wasn’t a planned route for me in finance.

My career has spanned about a decade, and I’ve been involved in most areas of finance. I started as a financial accountant/management accountant, and then I worked in tax for a while. I sold accountancy software and products to accountants and bookkeepers and then moved into insolvency to deal with bankruptcies and company liquidation and ended up in treasury. My interest has always been in cash and liquidity. 

I did the Certificate in Treasury

It was a good introduction to a formal qualification and education in treasury. My role at Kelkoo was created out of a requirement – it was a case of ‘we need better control and better visibility of cash – you need to do something about it’. It was essentially a ‘learn as you go’ type of role, which has its positives – you are able to draw on prior skill sets and experience. But, at the same time, in terms of learning best practices and what’s out there and what the industry is doing as a whole, that would have been something I would have lacked without the qualification from the ACT. So it was a very good segue into the Diploma in Treasury to better align and deepen my knowledge and skill set in treasury with something more formal.

The qualification itself was about learning and immersing yourself in best practices…

What’s happening primarily in policies and control; understanding what drives good policies and good control. That was the draw factor to the ACT: to ensure that we not only have a good control of cash but that we have good policies.

The Certificate in Treasury was awarded to me as a Fitch scholarship.

I did a single unit (being exempt from the other four units because I am an accountant) on technology, governance and ethics – topics that span every area of my current role. These include payments, segregation of duties, and controls around bank accounts; policies around spend; travel; and the elements of risk that one must be aware of. These are all generic in nature, but critical in every function of treasury and, in fact, finance. It’s been relevant all the way through. It really helped me understand risk – and the different types of risk that a business faces.

The qualification rubber-stamps the notion of a subject-matter expert. I’m a chartered accountant as well, so not only are you regarded as a professional with a set level of integrity within the accountancy industry, the qualification with the ACT gives you the same regard in treasury.

You’re seen within the business and the wider community as someone who has a high level of integrity, who understands the importance of cash and cash management and the inherent risk that comes with this.

I’m originally from Malaysia, but have lived most of my life in Australia, so I’m a chartered accountant with both England and Wales as well as Australia and New Zealand.

So that has been a good mix. The qualification with the ACT adds relevance in the sense that treasury can be regarded as a standalone function in finance, but the cross-qualification and cross-skilling in chartered accountancy and treasury gives you that breadth within the finance function. You are able to advise and influence the accounting elements of the business on record-keeping and how that would drive better reporting, better visibility, and better forecasting from a treasury point of view. You can see the end to end of the finance function and be a trusted all-round adviser within the wider business.

The ACT course was great.

It was an on demand style and the materials and study site were very interactive. There was a nice flow in terms of what you need to do, and it wasn’t just reading – there were video recordings and podcasts to give you a mix of learning style. There were webinars on current issues such as interest rates that made the study material even more relevant. The content itself is very up to date, which is great, because everything you read is based on what’s happening right now. It’s very good for real-life application.

ACT membership has also been excellent.

There have been lots of relevant publications and material and it makes you feel like you’re part of a wider community of like-minded professionals where you can share similar challenges and best practices. We might be doing different things, but there might be some things with which we can synergise. And that’s been helpful.

I’ve decided to pursue this further with the Diploma in Treasury Management, which is the next progression after the Certificate in Treasury.

It’s about honing the skill, the formal skill set and the qualifications in treasury, but also continuing the affiliation to the ACT. I think I can get a lot of benefit out of that. The ACT gives you that sense of community, which I really value.

More about Hilary Heah

Hilary is both an ACT student member and chartered accountant in England and Wales, as well as Australia and New Zealand – having spent most of his career in Melbourne, Australia. Hilary (with his wife and labrador) moved to London four years ago to be closer to the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage routes, which lead to the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela. He’s keeping the tradition of completing one pilgrimage route every year!

ACT digital credentials badge

Discover more stories or learn more about our qualifications

Discover more real stories from real students or learn more about our internationally recognised professional qualifications in our qualifications pathway.

More real stories

Qualifications Pathway