Thursday, January 13, 2011

Four in Five Companies Could Drop Money Funds if Floating NAV Becomes Reality, AFP Survey Shows

By Brian Kalish of Association for Financial Professionals

Move might add concentration risk to banking system, limit sources of corporate funding

If money market mutual funds (MMFs) are required to shift to a floating net asset value (NAV) reporting structure, as some policy makers have called for, many corporations would drop these funds from their portfolios, according to a survey by the Association for Financial Professionals (AFP). Four out of five organizations that currently include MMFs in their short-term investment portfolios would likely move at least some of these investments to other vehicles if MMFs were to shift to a floating NAV.

In follow-up questions to AFP's recent 2011 Business Outlook Survey, 54 percent of survey respondents indicate that their organizations would shift corporate cash into bank deposits and U.S. Treasury securities and out of money funds if a floating NAV becomes reality. Of those responding, 22 percent would move funds out of MMFs and into non-2a-7 fixed-value investment vehicles, such as offshore money market funds, enhanced cash funds and stable value vehicles. Four percent of survey respondents anticipate their organization would move funds currently in MMFs into other short-term, variable share price investments, such as ultra short bond funds.

These responses represent corporations and other organizations, such as academic institutions, but not banks or financial institutions.

"Where will $2.8 trillion be invested if we move to a floating NAV?" asked Brian Kalish, AFP's finance practice lead. "Many companies would not be able to consider MMFs as viable short-term investment vehicles if the NAV floats because it would put them in violation of their own investment policies."

"If the $2.8 trillion moves into the banking system, we would be trading the diversification that MMFs provide for the increased concentration risk of investing in a very small number of very large banks." Kalish said.

The $2.8 trillion that organizations invest in MMFs also provides a critical source of funding to U.S. businesses through the purchase of commercial paper. A reduction in the balances held in money funds would reduce capital available to purchase commercial paper, which companies utilize to fund their operations and short-term funding needs. Companies would have to find an alternate funding source, or reduce their spending to compensate for funding shortfalls.

AFP members, who are responsible for ensuring that their organizations have enough cash on hand to fund operations, are uniquely positioned to observe the cash flows and investment decisions of their organizations. Since they work in a wide range of industries and in both public and private organizations of varying sizes, their opinions reflect a broad corporate perspective that is both operational and strategic.


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