As interest rates rise and markets become less tolerant of performers who are careless with working capital, companies may pay a high price for failing to make full use of the financial management capabilities in their supply chains.
A study recently published by consulting firm REL, a division of The Hackett Group Inc., suggests that complacency has overtaken some companies in the low-interest rate regime that has prevailed since the 2008 financial meltdown.
REL looked at almost 1,000 of the largest public companies in the U.S. and concluded that "companies continue to take on alarming amounts of debt." The study found that debt among those companies increased by more than 9 percent in 2014 to nearly $4.6tr. Companies leveraged low interest rates to fund their investments, said REL.
At the same time, "companies once again made almost no improvement in working capital management, doing little to generate cash internally by optimizing how they collect from customers, pay suppliers, and manage inventory."
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