Finding a Treasurer
Question: Q: Our association hasn’t been able to find anyone willing to serve as Treasurer. What are the ramifications of not having one? What can we do to make the position more appealing to people who are put off by the responsibility and the work load?
Answer: A: We can skip the first part of your question (the ramifications of not having a treasurer), because, as David Levy, CMCA, PCAM, proprietor of Sterling Property Services, points out, that isn’t an option for you. The governing documents typically specify that a condominium association must have a president, a treasurer and a secretary or clerk. Having a treasurer isn’t a choice; it’s a legal requirement.
The Treasurer may not have to be an elected member of the board, however. While some documents require that, many do not. If your treasurer can be a non-board member owner, that would at least expand the pool of volunteers from which you might draw.
Even so, persuading owners to become involved in association affairs at any level is difficult, at best; persuading them to take on the treasurer’s duties, as you’ve found, is even more difficult, largely because many owners, as you’ve noted, are intimidated by the job.
There is no question that the treasurer’s role is critical – he or she serves as the community’s financial watchdog, making sure bills are paid, protocols are followed, accounts are balanced and budget goals are met. But the job isn’t as complicated or as time-consuming as it may seem, Levy says. In fact, he has found that the time commitment is dictated more by the personality of the treasurer than by the size of the community or the complexity of its finances. And while a financial background is helpful, he insists, it isn’t essential.
The best treasurers, he says, care about the community, pay attention to detail, are willing to ask questions, understand “scale and materiality” (a $3 invoice for paper clips probably isn’t important; an unexplained $100,000 payment almost certainly is), are accessible, and “are team players.”
Like many management companies, Levy’s provides association financial information on-line, making it readily accessible to the treasurer (and other board members) any time they want to see it. “This makes it much easier for them to do their job,” Levy says.
That’s a key point to emphasize when trying to persuade reluctant association members to serve as treasurer – the job isn’t as difficult or as time consuming as they fear. If it is still a hard sell, and it often is, Levy suggests some other alternatives you might consider.
One is to have the president serve as treasurer. “That’s not ideal,” he says, but it is one way to fill the position. Another option is to have a reluctant volunteer “shadow” your existing treasurer for a couple of months, to observe first-hand what the job entails. This obviously works best if you have a capable treasurer who handles the work efficiently; not so well if the treasurer is less efficient and seems overwhelmed by the job.