Cash may be king, but communication is the name of the game. No organization can successfully optimize liquidity if it operates in a fiefdom all by itself.

That is a pervasive theme across all of this year's Alexander Hamilton Award winners in the category Liquidity Management. These three organizations undertook significant initiatives to improve different aspects of corporate cash flows. But their projects have in common the need to work across departmental, and even organizational, lines:

  • Gold Award:  Early in the Covid-19 pandemic, Ford Motor Company faced a bleak outlook. The company's global operations were shuttered indefinitely, and its free cash flow through the first half of 2020 was negative $7.5 billion. Ford treasury needed to make sure the company had the liquidity to weather whatever the pandemic would bring, while continuing to support its strategic move to sustainable transportation. The team collaborated with internal departments and external banking partners to initiate innovative financing transactions throughout 2020 and 2021. As a result, the automaker was able to survive, and even thrive, as it exited the Covid economy.
  • Silver Award:  Microsoft uses an intercompany dividend process to repatriate earnings from subsidiaries located around the world. However, the original version of the process was expensive and time-consuming for the treasury team. Treasury worked closely with a variety of stakeholders to redesign the internally developed STAT tool. Now workflows are automated, and the dividend process runs smoothly while consuming almost no staff time.
  • Bronze Award:  El Paso–based real estate developer Hunt Companies was struggling to maximize returns on its excess cash, because the complexity of its bank account structure made manual funds transfers overly tedious. The Hunt treasury team worked with its treasury management system vendor to develop and test an application programming interface (API) that automates investment of excess cash in money-market funds.

"Communication was key to our success with [the STAT redesign] initiative," says Edda Kuhlmann, senior treasury manager with Microsoft. "We involved a lot of stakeholders from different areas of Microsoft across 140 countries. We were very mindful of how we communicated."

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Meg Waters

Meg Waters is the editor in chief of Treasury & Risk. She is the former editor in chief of BPM Magazine and the former managing editor of Business Finance.