For the past four years, "business stability in times of crisis" has been a recurring theme in many management boards and treasury committees. Be it the crisis resilience of companies as a whole or, broken down to the financial world, the financial stability of companies, the focus has always been on identifying the causes of possible threat scenarios and developing a proactive approach, combined with stabilization measures that are effective in the short term. Today, some four years after the outbreak of the pandemic, the challenges for most companies have only become greater: they find themselves confronted with multiple crises all at once. It is precisely this increased relevance of the current dealing with economically turbulent times that is reflected in the public communication spaces:

Over the past year alone, we have discussed this topic several times in our Corporate Treasury News (for example in the March issue on Treasury Policy or in the November issue on Treasury requirements in uncertain times). DerTreasurer also regularly explored both the perceived and measurable state of emergency. For example, one of the findings of the 29th Treasurer Panel2 in October 2023 was that a fully fleshed-out emergency plan specifically for cyber attacks is important to 70% of treasurers. Federal policymakers are also currently focusing on the cyber security threat situation. At the beginning of February 2024, Federal Minister of the Interior, Nancy Faeser, together with the President of the Federal Office for Information Technology (BSI) Claudia Plattner, inaugurated a new IT Situation Centre, which is intended to provide a secure framework for further digitalization in government, the economy and society3. Many other examples of comparable reports can be found in the latest public media coverage, but here is just one more worrying report: in November 2023, FINANCE magazine noted in its Restructuring Barometer4 that the number of restructuring cases is currently approaching record levels.

To sum up, it is evident that the current economic situation is marked by countless uncertainties, some of which are correlated and some of which are entirely unrelated. Elements such as volatile procurement and sales markets, geopolitical tensions and the current unstable interest rate environment are certainly closely linked to each other. On top of this already tense situation in the global economy as a whole, we are currently facing increased cyber risks and an unprecedented pace of technological innovation. As a result, companies in general and treasury departments in particular must rise to the major challenge of remaining stable and resilient in a multi-crisis environment. In this context, resilience not only means being able to hedge against transactional risks in a quantifiable way, but also the ability to adapt quickly and even take advantage of new opportunities as they arise.

It was this overall situation that prompted us to conduct a targeted study on the resilience of treasury organizations and to explore how the current volatile economic situation is impacting companies in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

All in all, more than 360 people responsible for treasury from around 250 different companies took part in the period from September to December 2023. We had devised six core theses and, thanks to the high number of responses, were able to verify them using standard quantitative statistical methods.

The study's 6 main theses are as follows:

  1. Cash is king: It is in times of crisis that the true importance of liquidity becomes apparent. Companies with adequate cash reserves find it easier to cope with unforeseen challenges and tend to emerge from a financially turbulent phase with less operational stress.
  2. Mastering crises increases resilience: Treasuries that have been through and overcome crisis situations at some point in the last five years are subsequently in a better position to tackle unforeseen challenges.
  3. Nature of crisis determines measures: What type of crisis a company has undergone also determines the type of measures it plans to implement to prepare for future crises.
  4. Crisis types correlate within sectors: Certain sectors are more severely affected by some types of crisis than others. Corporate treasury organizations need to be aware of these industry-specific risks and develop appropriate countermeasures.
  5. Company size vs. effectiveness: Size alone is not an indicator of whether a company can effectively manage a crisis. It is the flexibility and adaptability of the treasury organization that are decisive.
  6. Centralization boosts resilience: Having centralized structures makes it possible to react faster and make better decisions in crisis situations. Our study found that a centralized corporate treasury reinforces respondents' confidence in their company's resilience to crises.

We will publish the study's findings in a white paper at the end of March 2024. Participants who chose to give us their contact details will of course receive them directly in their inbox. For everyone else, we will provide a free download link on our KPMG Finance and Treasury Management website.

This white paper not only contains well-founded insights into the success stories of (repeatedly) crisis-proven treasury organizations, but also puts into perspective the potential for further improvement identified by the participants. We are absolutely convinced from the preliminary results that the white paper can serve as a guideline for critically examining your existing strategies and refining them where necessary. To this end, we will outline specific recommended measures that can help to make your treasury function more resilient and future-oriented.

Source: KPMG Corporate Treasury News, Edition 140, January/February 2024
Nils Bothe, Partner, Finance and Treasury Management, Corporate Treasury Advisory, KPMG AG
Cornelius Bonz, Manager, Finance and Treasury Management, Corporate Treasury Advisory, KPMG AG


1 Resilient Treasury. KPMG®  To be published in March 2024.
2 DerTreasurer® (accessed on 11.02.2024)
3 Website of the BMI (accessed on 14.02.2024)
4 FINANCE® in collaboration with Struktur Management Partner® (accessed on 11.02.2024)