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AFP Survey: Significant Increase in Cash Holdings Within the U.S. Attributed to Pandemic

  • By Brooke Ballenger
  • Published: 7/6/2021

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As organizations gradually recover from the liquidity crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2021 AFP Liquidity Survey, underwritten by Invesco, revealed that there is a large focus on preserving their cash and safeguarding against any future uncertainty. A total of 327 corporate treasury and finance professionals responded to the survey.

The survey also found that 47 percent of respondents report an increase in their organizations’ cash and short-term investment holdings within the U.S. in the past 12 months ending March 2021, which is 16 percentage points higher than the 31% reported in the 2020 AFP® Liquidity Survey Report and the highest share reported in the 16 years that AFP has been tracking this data. Seventy-two percent of survey respondents report that pandemic planning and contingencies had either a significant or some impact on the increase in cash holdings at their organizations.

AFP’s Tom Hunt, CTP, director of Treasury Services, sat down with Bloomberg for an interview on the 2021 AFP Liquidity Survey. Listen Here

“As expected, the pandemic’s impact on liquidity has shaped and continues to shape organizations’ cash and short-term investment decisions,” said Jim Kaitz, president and CEO of AFP. “While the U.S. seems to be turning the corner with the coronavirus pandemic, safety continues to be the most important objective, and treasury and finance professionals remain cautious with their short-term investments.”

Other highlights of the 2021 AFP Liquidity Survey include:

  • Organizations continue to maintain slightly more than half of their short-term investments in bank deposits, as this year’s results show that the typical organization currently maintains 52% of its short-term investment portfolio in bank deposits (compared to 51% in 2020). This allocation represents a six-percentage-point increase from 2019 and a four-percentage-point increase from 2018.
  • When selecting a mutual fund, the survey reports that 65% of treasury and finance professionals cite fund yield as a primary driver, 55% cite fund ratings, and 45% cite fixed or floating NAV.
  • The share of respondents (60%) who reported that their organizations either have plans to prepare operating cash and investment portfolios for LIBOR or are researching the process for doing so is significantly larger than the 39% who reported the same in last year’s survey.

“Throughout the last year, safety and liquidity have still reverberated as paramount with investment professionals as US money market fund balances remained elevated,” continued Laurie Brignac, CIO, Global Liquidity, Invesco. “As we re-emerge from lockdown and adjust to the ‘new normal,’ investors may consider a strategic segmentation approach with their cash holdings to uncover opportunities in our current market climate.”

Download the full survey results, and don’t miss the companion webinar, “Liquidity After the Pandemic: Highlights from the 2021 AFP Liquidity Survey,” on July 13 at 3 p.m. ET. Register here.

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