What Is Cash Management?

Cash management is the process of collecting and managing cash flows. Cash management can be important for both individuals and companies. In business, it is a key component of a company's financial stability. For individuals, cash is also essential for financial stability while also usually considered as part of a total wealth portfolio.

Individuals and businesses have a wide range of offerings available across the financial marketplace to help with all types of cash management needs. Banks are typically a primary financial service provider for the custody of cash assets. There are also many different cash management solutions for individuals and businesses seeking to obtain the best return on cash assets or the most efficient use of cash comprehensively.

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Cash Management

Understanding Cash Management

Cash is the primary asset individuals and companies use to pay their obligations on a regular basis. In business, companies have a multitude of cash inflows and outflows that must be prudently managed in order to meet payment obligations, plan for future payments, and maintain adequate business stability. For individuals, maintaining cash balances while also earning a return on idle cash are usually top concerns.

In corporate cash management, also often known as treasury management, business managers, corporate treasurers, and chief financial officers are typically the main individuals responsible for overall cash management strategies, cash related responsibilities, and stability analysis. Many companies may outsource part or all of their cash management responsibilities to different service providers. Regardless, there are several key metrics that are monitored and analyzed by cash management executives on a daily, monthly, quarterly, and annual basis.

The cash flow statement is a central component of corporate cash flow management. While it is often transparently reported to stakeholders on a quarterly basis, parts of it are usually maintained and tracked internally on a daily basis. The cash flow statement comprehensively records all of a business’s cash flows. It includes cash received from accounts receivable, cash paid for accounts payable, cash paid for investing, and cash paid for financing. The bottom line of the cash flow statement reports how much cash a company has readily available.

Key Takeaways

  • Cash management is the process of managing cash inflows and outflows.
  • There are many cash management considerations and solutions available in the financial marketplace for both individuals and businesses.
  • For businesses, the cash flow statement is a central component of cash flow management.

The Cash Flow Statement

The cash flow statement is broken down into three parts: operating, investing, and financing. The operating portion of cash activities will vary based heavily on net working capital which is reported on the cash flow statement as a company’s current assets minus current liabilities. The other two sections of the cash flow statement are somewhat more straight forward with cash inflows and outflows pertaining to investing and financing.

Internal Controls

There are many internal controls used to manage and ensure efficient business cash flows. Some of a company’s top cash flow considerations include the average length of account receivables, collection processes, write-offs for uncollected receivables, liquidity and rates of return on cash equivalent investments, credit line management, and available operating cash levels. In general, cash flows pertaining to operating activities will be heavily focused on working capital which is impacted by accounts receivable and accounts payable changes. Investing and financing cash flows are usually extraordinary cash events that involve special procedures for funds.

Working Capital

A company’s working capital is the result of its current assets minus current liabilities. Working capital balances are an important part of cash flow management because they show the amount of current assets a company has to cover its current liabilities. Companies strive to have current asset balances that exceed current liability balances. If current liabilities exceed current assets a company would likely need to access its reserve lines for payables.

In general working capital includes the following:

Current assets: cash, accounts receivable within one year, inventory

Current liabilities: all accounts payable due within one year, short-term debt payments due within one year

Current assets minus current liabilities results in working capital. On the cash flow statement, companies usually report the change in working capital from one reporting period to the next within the operating section of the cash flow statement. If net change in working capital is positive a company has increased its current assets available to cover current liabilities which increases total cash on the bottom line. If a net change in working capital is negative, a company has increased its current liabilities which reduces its ability to pay them as efficiently. A negative net change in working capital reduces the total cash on the bottom line.

There are several things a company can do to improve both receivables and payables efficiency, ultimately leading to higher working capital and better operating cash flow. Companies operating with invoice billing can reduce the days payable or offer discounts for quick payments. They may also choose to use technologies that facilitate faster and easier payments such as automated billing and electronic payments. Advanced technology for payables management can also be helpful. Companies may choose to make automated bill payments or use direct payroll deposits to help improve payables cost efficiency.

Ratios

In conjunction with internal controls, companies also regularly monitor and analyze liquidity and solvency ratios within cash management. External stakeholders find these ratios important for a variety of analysis purposes as well.

The two main liquidity ratios analyzed in conjunction with cash management include the quick ratio and the current ratio.

The quick ratio is calculated from the following:

Quick ratio = (cash equivalents + marketable securities + accounts receivable) / current liabilities

The current ratio is a little more comprehensive. It is calculated from the following:

Current ratio = current assets / current liabilities

Solvency ratios look at a company’s ability to manage all of its payables, including both short-term and long-term. Some of the most popular solvency ratios include: debt to equity, debt to assets, cash flow to debt, and the interest coverage ratio.