The Art of Centralizing Cash Management - Aimee Cullen
Oct 9, 2023 3:32:41 PM
In a world that is increasingly digitized and driven by intangible assets, the age-old adage remains as true as ever: "Cash is King". But if Aimee Cullen, Associate Director of Treasury at Carrier and President of the Irish Association of Corporate Treasurers, is to be believed, cash isn’t just king – it's the queen, it’s everything. The heart of the matter lies in how efficiently an organization manages its cash, especially when it's scattered across multiple dimensions of a company's balance sheet.
One of the intriguing challenges that global businesses face is the substantial amount of cash that gets trapped in the balance sheet, especially across Accounts Payable (AP), Accounts Receivable (AR), and Inventory. Furthermore, central bank restrictions at the affiliate level can restrict the free movement of this cash. Imagine the scenario – a AAA rated company, can borrow funds more cheaply than most governments. However, as Aimee points out, why would a company borrow when there’s unutilized cash within its walls?
It's less about having cash, but more about where it's placed. Spreading cash across various local bank accounts may be safe, but it's not the most efficient way to grow that money. This is where the Treasury Centre steps in, with the expertise to ensure the maximum return on these cash balances.
Whether it's a new region or a new company, Aimee emphasizes the importance of knowing where the cash sits and how centralized the cash management system is. This not only aids in managing liquidity but also plays a crucial role in managing multiple types of risks – be it counterparty, funding, operational, settlement, or interest rate risk.
Aimee's tenure in Brazil offered her a unique vantage point. The Southern Cone economies, with their own set of challenges – ranging from currency restrictions, central bank regulations, to inflation and currency volatility – present a dynamic playground for any treasury professional. High interest rates make the cash game even more intriguing.
She highlights a key insight that global treasurers often discover – structures that work seamlessly in Europe or the US might not be easily translatable in regions like South America. The hunt for efficiencies becomes a little more nuanced. While global policies set the broad framework, regional peculiarities often demand exceptions. These exceptions, though, require rigorous justification to senior leadership and meticulous monitoring.
Aimee’s role in the Regional Treasury Centre taught her the importance of business partnering. Working hand-in-hand with local Finance Leaders, her task was twofold: explaining and implementing treasury policies while simultaneously supporting local business units. This dual approach ensures that local divisions can focus on their core operations, while the central treasury manages the intricate dance of daily cash, capital funding, and currency risk.
Aimee underscores the nuanced balancing act of centralized cash management and the importance of localized strategies. It's a tale of understanding the bigger picture while not losing sight of regional intricacies. In the complex world of global treasury management, it's not just about cash being king and queen, but also about playing the chessboard right.
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