Separate accounts may offer greater return and reduced credit risk compared to prime money market funds. By examining current and future liquidity needs and the potential for significant deviations from cash flow projections, corporate treasurers may construct portfolios with direct investments in high-quality credits that satisfy current, future and emergency liquidity needs – and still may achieve higher returns than money market funds while eliminating the shareholder risk of pooled vehicles.
Events of the past seven years have shriveled yields for deposit and money market products, while at the same time have increased investors’ risk of both principal loss and interruption in liquidity. Last year, the SEC’s amendments to Rule 2a-7 resulted in material changes to the utility and the yield potential of money market funds by introducing a combination of floating net asset values, liquidity gates, and redemption fees. Corporate treasurers who traditionally have maintained all of their cash in bank deposits or overnight products will be forced to examine other options to maintain a competitive (or merely positive) return and avoid incurring inappropriate concentrations of credit risk. A major hurdle in this process is satisfying the need for daily liquidity given businesses’ varying degrees of clarity with respect to future cash needs. Fortunately, with a carefully planned maturity structure and with an organized strata of liquid investment vehicles, separately managed account portfolios (SMAs) can offer a high degree of liquidity that may satisfy most treasurers’ requirements.
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