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Thriving during uncertainty: Cash flow forecasting techniques to help your CFOs in crisis management

What you’ll learn


  • The role of a CFOs during an economic crisis
  • Cash forecasting techniques to stay ahead of market fluctuations

What’s an economic crisis?

The term ‘economic crisis’ refers to a period of national or regional economic breakdown in which the economy is in difficulty for an extended period of time, ranging from a few years to many decades. It refers to a situation in which the market’s key financial assets experience a sharp decline in market value over a short period of time, when businesses are unable to pay their massive debts, or when financing institutions face a liquidity crunch and are unable to return money to depositors, all which cause panic in the capital markets and among investors. During an economic crisis, asset prices plummet, firms and individuals cannot pay their loans, and financial institutions face liquidity shortages.

Examples of economic crisis

Examples of an economic crisis include some major events including:

  • Financial bubble: A financial bubble is a stage in the economic cycle in which the prices of assets rise fast and then burst. In this instance, assets are often overvalued and are not supported by the asset’s fundamentals, owing to the market’s enthusiastic behavior.
  • Currency crisis: When a country’s currency devalues other currencies, this is referred to as a currency crisis. It causes international investors to withdraw their funds from the market since the value of their investment in the local currency has decreased.
  • Stock market crash: A stock market crash is a sharp decline in stock prices that can lead to a long bear market or warn of impending economic disaster. Several precautions need to be implemented to reduce the impact of a rapid stock market fall, including circuit breakers and trading limitations.

How does a crisis impact the treasury?

Finance and liquidity are among the top three impacted areas during an economic crisis, according to PwC’s Global Crisis Survey 2021. A ‘black swan occurrence,’ such as Covid-19, has demonstrated the need for treasurers to be vigilant when it comes to crisis management and business continuity strategies. Pandemics, recessions, and macroeconomic swings can all have an unexpected impact on firm cash flows.

The major challenges that companies face during a crisis are:

  • Increased cash buffers
  • Idle cash
  • Penalties due to bad debts
  • Bankruptcy
  • Inadequate receivables management
  • Borrowing with higher interest rates
  • Delayed investments

As the crisis develops, corporate executives should not rely on their intuition to make key decisions. Treasury can handle uncertainty better by monitoring its cash position, anticipating its future liquidity status, and mapping and measuring its responses.

How does cash forecasting help CFOs in times of crisis?

In uncertain times, an organization’s ability to navigate severe volatility can be a catalyst for long-term financial health. A cash flow forecasting technique can provide an important reminder of a company’s future business health by applying a diagnostic perspective to cash balances under a variety of future scenarios.

Cash flow forecasting techniques that help in responding to market volatility

CFOs can use these cash flow forecasting techniques to respond to a crisis in the following ways:

Cash flow forecasting techniques to respond to market volatility.

    1. Determine a forecasting cadence based on the purpose: A cash-flow projection is done monthly, weekly, or daily, depending on the level of detail with a treasury cash forecasting software. There are two methods for forecasting cash flow:

    Direct method: Direct cash flow forecasting uses the company’s cash receipts and disbursements to compute cash flow. The time period for direct or short-term forecasting is usually one to six months.

    Indirect method: The indirect technique calculates cash flows by detecting non-cash transactions in the net-income calculation and then removing them from the equation. The time horizon for indirect or long-term forecasting ranges from one to five years.

    An indirect method of forecasting provides for future strategic planning, but it is more prone to inaccuracy due to longer time periods. Direct cash flow forecasting allows for more precision and consistency in predicting future cash flows. To ensure survival during a potential cash-flow crisis, struggling enterprises should start with short-term forecasting by using the cash flow forecasting technique and then create long-term forecasts to be proactive in decision-making.

    2. Choose a scalable and flexible system: To be scalable, a company must focus on enhancing service profitability and efficiency even as its workload grows. When a process is resilient and provides granularity to the lowest level of data, it is said to be scalable.

    How cash flow forecasting technique assists in increasing scalability

    The following are some of the ways a treasury cash forecasting software improves scalability:

    • Simple to upgrade and gives improved performance: Unlike conventional systems, cloud software doesn’t require solution maintenance requirements and costs and can be set up on-demand in weeks or months.
    • Increased operational reliability and flexibility: Operational flexibility allows for unanticipated changes without needing physical servers to be put up. Furthermore, treasury solutions provide predictability in determining when and how much scalability is needed for growth and investment.

    3.Select best-fit models for each cash flow category: Treasury employees may lack technical competence and the bandwidth and tools required for proper modeling. Treasurers can utilize AI forecasting software for difficult-to-forecast categories like A/R and A/P and heuristic models for easier-to-forecast categories like Taxes and Payroll.

    4.Create multiple scenarios and implement them in the forecasts: A cash-flow projection should be modeled with many what-if scenarios for planning purposes. This enables a company to examine several outcomes of its expected cash position based on probable unknowns by using corporate treasury software. As a result, a business can quickly adapt processes and develop contingency planning protocols.

    5.Perform variance analysis for multiple time horizons: In the time of crisis, the CFOs should perform frequent variance analysis using treasury cash forecasting software to mitigate the impact of high variance in cash forecasts. Proper variance analysis provides better use of idle capital for R&D, securities and stock investments, overnight sweeps, and other purposes. Investigate the core causes of variance between forecasts and actuals to improve decision-making.

Speak to a solution expert to learn more about how automated cash forecasting can assist CFOs in avoiding negative consequences during times of crisis.

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The HighRadius™ Treasury Management Applications consist of AI-powered Cash Forecasting Cloud and Cash Management Cloud designed to support treasury teams from companies of all sizes and industries. Delivered as SaaS, our solutions seamlessly integrate with multiple systems including ERPs, TMS, accounting systems, and banks using sFTP or API. They help treasuries around the world achieve end-to-end automation in their forecasting and cash management processes to deliver accurate and insightful results with lesser manual effort.