Treasury Management Internation Logo

C2FO Releases 2021 Working Capital Outlook Survey Findings

Published 

C2FO today released a new worldwide survey, which examines the working capital health of more than 6,700 leaders of small and mid-sized businesses (“SMBs”). The survey found alignment across the world when looking at SMBs in terms of access to liquidity, the cost of borrowing, and their outlooks for the future.

C2FO’s 2021 Working Capital Survey was conducted across 16 countries in December 2020 and January 2021, focusing entirely on businesses with between 10 and 500 employees. Key findings from the survey include the following:

  • Respondents cited economic instability and uncertainty about customer orders as their biggest challenges — concerns likely fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 economic crisis.
  • An average of 87% of respondents said they have enough liquidity for the next six months.
  • Liquidity costs continue to rise, as 65% of respondents said they pay an APR of more than 8%.
  • Late or extended payment from customers is a growing global concern, as 37% of respondents said late payments from customers had increased in 2020.
  • Due to the pandemic, the cost of borrowing in the last year increased for 32% of respondents within the United States — most significantly impacting woman-owned businesses, with 43% noting an increase while nearly half of that, 24%, of man-owned businesses noted an increase. 34% of black-owned businesses also responded they experienced an increase in the cost of borrowing.
  • Despite the challenges of 2020, overall optimism among respondents about their future business prospects was fairly strong — averaging 6.5 on a scale of one to 10.

The purpose of C2FO’s 2021 survey was to measure the economic health and outlooks for SMBs in countries around the world. A full report on the survey’s findings can be viewed here.

“While it’s heartening that many SMBs in this survey have a positive outlook for their immediate future, it is also very clear that more needs to be done to provide these businesses with immediate access to the low-cost liquidity they need to grow,” said Alexander “Sandy” Kemper, C2FO’s founder and CEO. “These kinds of studies are important in calling out the economic challenges that businesses worldwide face every day.”

Minority-owned businesses within the United States were well represented in this year’s survey, with 49% of responses coming from non-white owned businesses, 27% of responses coming from black-owned businesses, and 46% of responses coming from woman-owned businesses. Furthermore, the survey took a look at various subcategories when looking at small businesses, classified as a business with under $50 million in revenue.

The survey found that the cost of borrowing in the last year due to the pandemic, when looking at all responses within the United States, increased for 32% of respondents. This increase significantly impacted woman-owned, with 43% of woman-owned businesses noting an increase, while nearly half that, 24%, of man-owned businesses noted an increase. Black-owned businesses were also impacted with 34% responding they experienced an increase in the cost of borrowing. This trend was further reflected when looking at small businesses with a revenue of less than $50 million, with 39% of woman-owned businesses within this category expressing an increase while only 23% of man-owned businesses with a revenue of under $50 million responding their cost of borrowing increased.

C2FO conducted global surveys of SMBs in 2016 and 2017, but the 2021 Working Capital Survey is the most thorough and far-reaching, conducted in eight languages across 16 countries and consisting of 26 or more questions about topics like financial health, the cost of borrowing, support from government programs and more.

Most recent episodes

Lessons from Innospec on Building a Strong Cash Culture

Without ready access to the key metrics of cash forecasting, Andrew Hawes (Innospec) knew the business could do little more than react to events. But without the collaboration of key stakeholders too, he knew that...

35:08

How to Make Your TMS the Ultimate Investment Tool

The right TMS can be a huge asset to treasury. But these one-stop shops often fall short when it comes to short term investment workflows. In this podcast, Ed Lopez, James Griffin (Calastone), Jeannot Jonas (Carrier...

01:24:00

Best Strategies for Driving Cash Visibility: Advice You Can’t Google

What are the best strategies for facilitating cash visibility, and how can treasurers promote everlasting tech adoption within their departments? Serrala’s Nancy Zhang...

35:23

Innovations in Retail Payments

The fallout from the pandemic has radically accelerated changes in consumer behaviour on a global scale. The payments sector has had to quickly adapt in order to keep up with the emerging demands of both digital consumers and retail corporates, resulting in some...

36:40

The Future of ESG in Treasury

In this podcast, Melissa Moi, Peter Jameson and Venkat ES from Bank of America join TMI’s Eleanor Hill to determine where the ESG journey is heading next. Our expert panel consider how changing regulation, technology solutions and metrics including ESG KPIs...

26:50

HSBC’s Sibos Spotlight: Investing in the Future – from Diversity to Green Deposits

In the final instalment of HSBC’s Sibos Spotlight, Eleanor Hill (TMI) invites Nadine Lagarmitte and Suraj Kalati (HSBC) to consider how corporates’ attitudes to...

25:12

HSBC’s Sibos Spotlight: The ESG Landscape – what every treasurer needs to know

In the third edition of HSBC’s Sibos Spotlight Podcast series, TMI’s Eleanor Hill invites Farnam Bidgoli (HSBC) to provide an in-depth overview of the current ESG...

16:24

The Path to Transformational Global Cash Visibility

Davina Bradley (CEVA Logistics) and Conor Deegan (CashAnalytics) join TMI’s Eleanor Hill to explore how treasurers can transform their cash visibility and forecasting within their business in a matter of weeks using a...

33:16

HSBC’s Sibos Spotlight: Embedding ESG in Trade and Supply Chains

In the second podcast from HSBC’s Sibos Spotlight series, TMI’s Eleanor Hill speaks to Surath Sengupta (HSBC) about embedding ESG into trade and supply chains....

20:58

Lost in Transaction: Overcoming Payments Pitfalls

From simple errors to duplicates, fraud and sanctions violations, there are a number of areas where payments can go wrong – especially in the real-time environment. In this podcast, TMI speaks to Andrew Ferrao...

34:25