Making the most of excess cash: The optimal balance between safety, availability and profitability

| 9-3-2017 | Pieter de Kiewit | TreasuryXL|

We came across this article from our expert Pieter de Kiewit in co-operation with a candidate on De Kiewit Treasurer Search and thought it interesting enough to share it with you.

To get inflation to its target of close to 2%, the ECB has launched an unprecedented package of measures. It cuts borrowing costs, expanded its QE programme and reduced bank deposit rate into negative territory. Interest rates are expected to remain at present low levels for an extended period of time. Great for those who need to borrow money, but depressing for the return on savings or excess cash.

Many commercial banks effectively already charge a negative interest rate on checkable deposits. They charge fees in excess of interest payments (if any). The new Basel rules may involve certain costs or risks, some banks may choose to pass these to their customers. Regulatory shift will have wide-reaching implications on cash pooling, cash deposits (distinction between operating and excess cash deposits) and Money Market Funds (liquidity fee and redemption gates will be imposed). The Basel Committee postponed the meeting scheduled for Jan. 8 on new capital standards. The good news is that it will take some time (2018/2019) before new regulations become fully operational.

Many companies now hold larger cash balances due to their growing sensitivity to the economic cycle and continued need for operational funding. Excess cash is a luxury and isn’t always a problem. However, keeping it on the book is often not the answer for a company’s long term health. Excessive non-earning cash balances create opportunity costs and decrease the rate of return on equity and the firm’s value.

What are your options after minimizing the cash balance in non-interest-bearing accounts? Each business has its own goals and financial outlook. The best thing to do with excess cash is manage it appropriately in line with strategic objectives and for the best risk-adjusted return possible, without sacrificing liquidity. You can sit on it, use it to buy property or assets, or invest it in commercial paper, money market funds, other mutual funds, bonds or stocks—or some combination of these things. Whatever you may choose, the process of investing excess cash should be integrated in overall cash management, with the same fundamental principles of keeping risk low and having the right amount of cash on hand for short-term and long-term needs.
Companies tend to have very low appetites for risk when it comes to investments. It’s not their business. Their primary objective is capital preservation and maintaining liquidity, and yield is third on the priority list.

Are you looking for investment solutions spanning a range of currencies, risk levels and durations, designed to suit specific operating, reserve and strategic cash management needs? Whatever your investment goals may be, a treasurer might be able to assist you in making the right decision with your excess liquidity. If hiring a treasurer is one step to far for your organisation, you might want to consider a Flex Treasurer. TreasuryXL can bring you in contact with treasury professionas of different disciplines.

Pieter de Kiewit



Pieter de Kiewit

Owner at Treasurer Search