The more things change, the more they stay the same. A cliché, to be sure, but one that rings true right now for corporate treasury & cash management. Companies continue to hold on to cash, as is abundantly clear in our first-ever global cash survey—the Global Finance Cash 25 —and this trend seems unlikely to change anytime soon. But holding of on investment to await a change in the macroeconomy creates something of a catch-22: Companies are waiting for consumer spending to increase in order to invest, but consumer spending is unlikely to increase in any meaningful way until companies start to invest—not only to give consumers reason to believe it is safe to spend, but also to increase the liquidity in the market that is available for spending.
Having said that, in certain developed markets companies appear to have begun to invest some of their cash piles, which could be the kick start that is needed to get global economies moving again.
In the meantime, corporates are trying to make the best use of the cash that they do have, which is a key theme of this year’s Treasury & Cash Management supplement. Whether investing it—generally still in safe, low-risk securities and investments—keeping it in bank accounts, bringing it back to home markets from abroad or safeguarding it in those markets, treasurers are tasked with ensuring that cash is kept secure while still creating value for the company. On the flipside, treasurers are still trying to ensure that financial operations are run as seamlessly and efficiently as possible to minimize working capital usage within those processes. The treasurer has long worn many hats, and the collection is only growing.