Following the sudden disruptions caused by Covid-19’s initial surge in in the U.S., corporate treasury leaders swiftly boosted cash reserves, reworked their policies on short-term investments, and implemented or enhanced technology to adjust to remote working models and extreme external volatility. Those are the primary findings of a recent survey of treasury professionals across all industries published by Treasury & Risk.
The special Treasury & Risk report on the magazine’s annual cash management survey features insights and analyses from finance and treasury executives, vendors and thought leaders, including MSTS CEO Brandon Spear. The discussions address survey findings on cash reserve fluctuations, the factors driving those changes (Covid-related uncertainty tops the list), cash and short-term investment priorities, and finance and treasury challenges. The need to sharpen cash forecasting figures prominently among those challenges. As Spear notes in the article, “There wasn’t a forecasting playbook for the pandemic.”
The article also indicates that the widespread shift to remote working models further increased the need for advanced finance and treasury technology. “We saw payment cycles pushed to the right for no other reason than the accounts payable people were unable to get to the office for a period of time,” Spear also tells Treasury & Risk. “If there’s a silver lining to these types of problems, it’s that increasing and enhancing automation has become a top priority for CEOs across most industries.” Craig Jeffery, managing partner of Strategic Treasurer, who is also cited, agrees. He reports remote work combined with pandemic-driven cash and liquidity planning challenges “…led to an increase of automation, directly and immediately, as well as the growth of significant plans to automate and outsource parts of A/P [accounts payable] and A/R.”
The survey findings support those observations. Despite the economic damage and uncertainty inflicted by Covid, approximately half of all treasury groups have either sustained or accelerated their pre-pandemic finance and treasury technology investment plans since the pandemic materialized.