In a business anything done financially affects cash eventually. Cash is to a business is what blood is to a living body. A business cannot operate without its life-blood cash, and without cash management, there may remain no cash to operate.
Cash movement in a business is two-way traffic. It keeps on moving in and out of business. The inflow and outflow of cash never coincides. Important aspect which is unique to cash management is time dimension associated with the movement of cash. Due to non-synchronicity of cash inflow and outflow, the inflow may be more than the outflow or the outflow may be more than the inflow at a particular point of time. This needs regulation. Left to itself cash flow is apt to follow monsoonic pattern, and showers of cash may be heavy, scanty or just normal. Hence there is a dire need to control its movement through skillful cash management. The primary aim of cash management is to ensure that there should be enough cash availability when the needs arises, not too much, but never too little.
Cash Management is a marketing term for certain services offered primarily to larger business customers. It may be used to describe all bank accounts (such as checking accounts) provided to businesses of a certain size, but it is more often used to describe specific services such as cash concentration , zero balance accounting , and automated clearing house facilities. Sometimes, private bank customers are given cash management services.
Purpose of Cash Management
Cash management is the stewardship or proper use of an entity's cash resources. It serves as the means to keep an organization functioning by making the best use of cash or liquid resources of the organization.
The function of cash management at the U.S. Treasury is threefold:
1. To eliminate idle cash balances. Every dollar held as cash rather than used to augment revenues or decrease expenditures represents a lost opportunity. Funds that are not needed to cover expected transactions can be used to buy back outstanding debt (and cease a flow of funds out of the Treasury for interest payments) or can be invested to generate a flow of funds into the Treasury's account. Minimizing idle cash balances requires accurate information about expected receipts and likely disbursements.
2. To deposit collections timely. Having funds in-hand is better than having accounts receivable. The cash is easier to convert immediately into value or goods. A receivable, an item to be converted in the future, often is subject to a transaction delay or a depreciation of value. Once funds are due to the Government, they should be converted to cash-in-hand immediately and deposited in the Treasury's account as soon as possible.
3. To properly time disbursements. Some payments must be made on a specified or legal date, such as Social Security payments. For such payments, there is no cash management decision. For other payments, such as vendor payments, discretion in timing is possible. Government vendors face the same cash management needs as the Government. They want to accelerate collections. One way vendors can do this is to offer discount terms for timely payment for goods sold.
Cash Management Services Generally Offered
Account Reconcilement Services : Balancing a checkbook can be a difficult process for a very large business, since it issues so many checks it can take a lot of human monitoring to understand which checks have not cleared and therefore what the company's true balance is. To address this, banks have developed a system which allows companies to upload a list of all the checks that they issue on a daily basis, so that at the end of the month the bank statement will show not only which checks have cleared, but also which have not. More recently, banks have used this system to prevent checks from being fraudulently cashed if they are not on the list, a process known as positive pay .
Advanced Web Services : Most banks have an Internet-based system which is more advanced than the one available to consumers. This enables managers to create and authorize special internal logon credentials, allowing employees to send wires and access other cash management features normally not found on the consumer web site.
Armored Car Services : Large retailers who collect a great deal of cash may have the bank pick this cash up via an armored car company, instead of asking its employees to deposit the cash.
Automated Clearing House : services are usually offered by the cash management division of a bank. The Automated Clearing House is an electronic system used to transfer funds between banks. Companies use this to pay others, especially employees (this is how direct deposit works). Certain companies also use it to collect funds from customers (this is generally how automatic payment plans work). This system is criticized by some consumer advocacy groups, because under this system banks assume that the company initiating the debit is correct until proven otherwise.
Balance Reporting Services : Corporate clients who actively manage their cash balances usually subscribe to secure web-based reporting of their account and transaction information at their lead bank. These sophisticated compilations of banking activity may include balances in foreign currencies, as well as those at other banks. They include information on cash positions as well as 'float' (e.g., checks in the process of collection). Finally, they offer transaction-specific details on all forms of payment activity, including deposits, checks, wire transfers in and out, ACH (automated clearinghouse debits and credits), investments, etc.