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Australian mid-sized businesses missed $6.12 billion worth of growth opportunities due to cash-flow problems, American Express says.
In American Express’s report Behind the balance sheet: unlocking hidden value in credit, 38 per cent of CFOs revealed their business was delayed or unable to achieve a strategic business objective due to cash-flow pressures.
Of these mid-sized businesses, 81 per cent missed growth opportunities every six months (54 per cent every other month), with each opportunity lost worth $35,000 on average.
Vice-president for small and medium enterprises at American Express Australia, Martin Seward, said businesses that stuck with old methods of cash-flow management were limiting their ability to drive forward strategic objectives.
“While cash-flow management will always be a top priority for CFOs in mid-sized Australian companies, the role of the modern CFO has evolved to become a key strategic lead within the business,” Mr Seward said.
“In an increasingly competitive economy, the modern CFO cannot afford to miss business opportunities due to cash-flow pressures nor expend all their energies pouring over the weekly ebb and flow of cash.”
The report revealed that around 60 per cent of CFOs required an injection of capital every quarter to fund business initiatives, despite 86 per cent finding it a challenge to access the funds they needed.
Thirty-seven per cent of businesses used loans to manage cash flow, with 34 per cent using an overdraft facility and 55 per cent using credit cards.
“When credit is used to manage predictable cash flow, CFOs can unlock hidden value in their business as well as ease the burden of cash-flow management,” Mr Seward said.
“The benefits of using credit as a cash-flow management tool are three-fold – an extended interest free period delays upfront payment, keeping cash in the business for longer, while lining supplier payments up with statement cycles helps receivables arrive before expenses are due.
“Thirdly, early payment discounts can be negotiated with suppliers by creating a history of reliable on-time payment.”
Despite the highlighted cash-flow issues, the report found 53 per cent of companies experienced growth during the 2016 financial year, while 65 per cent projected growth for 2017.
The report surveyed 355 Australian mid-sized business CFOs.