Cash management in times of crisis: the case of consulting firms

Interview with Paul Trévillot, CFO at Wemanity

 

Paris, 15 December 2020.

The economic crisis linked to COVID-19 has not spared the consulting firms, which have also been affected by a weakened economy. Thus, the drop in activity is reflected in a lack of budget.
According to Paul Trévillot, CFO at Wemanity, lack of budget can be prevented in 3 steps:

How have you got through the last 5 months? What were the main aspects you had to focus your attention on?

“Nous sommes une société de conseil. Notre principal point d’attention était de savoir comment sécuriser le cash de notre entreprise, sous 3 axes dans l’ordre d’importance qui suit :

  1. To ensure the smooth running of the "Cash Order" cycle with our customers.
    We were afraid that clients would no longer be able to pay our fees because of the crisis, so we set up a Task Force on the collection of client receivables and the collection of outstanding contracts.
  2. Securing our group's cash by validating financial agreements with our bank, as we have made virtually no use of short-time working.
  3. The state aid from which we could benefit.

Ces 3 axes nous ont permis jusqu’à maintenant de gérer cette période particulière.”

 

Crisis management

On a human level, Paul Trévillot points out that awareness raising and support are necessary, even indispensable, for the smooth running of the company.

What have you put in place to manage the crisis and the post-crisis period?

“Nous avons la chance d’avoir pu dédier une équipe à cette période de crise, et nous avions déjà des process de suivi et gestion de trésorerie. Nous avons juste encore plus sensibilisé nos équipes opérationnelles sur l’aspect cash, et nous faisons des suivi cash et business plus soutenus, avec des pilotages à la semaine plutôt qu’au mois.

Ce travail en amont nous a donc permis de ne pas perdre de temps, et de reporter sur le suivi de l’encaissement des créances clients.”

 

Les trésoriers, “médecins des entreprises”

As in every crisis, the finance functions are under severe strain and are doing their utmost to get out of it. Today, treasurers and accountants are referred to as "saviours" or "company doctors*". These "saviours" are recognised by most, but according to Wemanity's CFO, they are not sufficiently in the spotlight:

 
How do you assess the treasury function, what are the challenges of tomorrow?

“Avec tout ce qui se passe actuellement, la fonction de trésorerie doit être encore plus mise au centre des dispositifs de l’entreprise. Il va falloir de plus en plus anticiper et avoir plus de visibilité sur le cash, le suivre comme le lait sur le feu.
Il faudra beaucoup pousser le suivi du risque, c’est essentiel pour le bon fonctionnement de son entreprise.”

 

Like Paul Trévillot, follow your financial flows with your banks, your trade receivables but also your WCR in a clear and optimised way with out Cashlab tool.

* Based on an interview with Pascal Castaner on actu.fr, Chartered Accountant and candidate for the regional presidency of the Montpellier Order of Chartered Accountants.