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The Hackett Group’s “2018 Working Capital Survey” reveals a massive opportunity to free up over $1.5 trillion in cash across the United States and Europe. (See Figure 1, below.) This opportunity is cash tied up in receivables and payables. In the United States, the receivables and payables opportunities represent $334 billion and $358 billion, respectively. The opportunities in Europe are a similar size.

Accessing this cash to show a healthy balance sheet is the primary driver for year-end gamesmanship, also known as the “dash for cash.” The result may well meet market and shareholder expectations and have a positive impact on share price. However, playing the year-end game is successful only for the short term.

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