With the coronavirus pandemic impacting economies, businesses and individuals, TMI asks what treasurers can do to help their organisation weather the storm. In this no-nonsense guide, we take a pragmatic look at best practice during times of crisis, ranging from contingent funding facilities to proactive communication with rating agencies and tackling elevated FX risks and cybercrime.
As a treasurer battling the fallout from Covid-19, the last thing you need is to be told that “a crisis is an opportunity riding the dangerous wind”. Yes, Chinese proverbs have their place, but for most practitioners, the moment for viewing the crisis as a turning point for treasury is a little further down the line. That’s not to say it won’t come, or that some lucky treasurers aren’t already using the current situation to future-proof their operations and drive digital agendas, but for those firefighting on the frontline, practical help is what’s needed most.
This is a time for pooling collective knowledge. For sharing best practice and experience. For relying on business partners to pull out all the stops. One industry expert using his spare time to support others is Paul Byrne, Group Treasurer, Crisis Restructuring/Management, Strategic Advisor & Interim Executive. “Over the last few weeks, I have been contacted for assistance by two CFOs – one from a regional airline and one from a specialist lender – and treasurers from nine different firms, all public companies,” he notes.
Looking after cash and liquidity
When asked about the most pressing short-term concerns for these individuals, Byrne says that liquidity is inevitably top of mind. “Eight out of the 11 people I spoke to had sized their liquidity buffers based on the output of their board-approved ‘severe liquidity extreme scenarios’ and were already breaching these. In six instances their cash inflows had all but stopped, as a direct result of the shuttering of non-essential businesses, closing of international borders, debt moratoriums, unemployment spiking and so forth.”