Review of the Swiss WCM Summit 2018

Focus topic

The Swiss WCM Summit 2018 focused on the trend topic of supply chain finance (SCF), which CFOs cannot avoid at present. This is because every company that incorporates their suppliers and customers into WCM achieves significant competitive advantages. They benefit from win-win opportunities by defining which supply chain partners finance which elements and with which financing instruments.

Key facts

Dr Erik Hoffmann, Head of the SCF Lab at the University of St. Gallen, provided fascinating insights into SCF during his presentation of the WCM Study 2018. The study reveals that while a wide range of innovative SCF solutions are available, companies are reluctant to use them. While the top companies surveyed finance up to 20% of their total assets with innovative trade finance and SCF instruments today, the figure stands at up to just 5% for all companies surveyed on average.

Key findings

Swiss companies have room for improvement with regard to SCF. Dr Daniel Maucher, Head of Solution Development and WCM Operations at PostFinance, underlined in his address: “The latest figures once again show that Swiss companies are still reluctant compared to other European countries when it comes to implementing cross-company WCM solutions with SCF.”

Food for thought

A major highlight of the Swiss WCM Summit 2018 was the keynote address by Oswald Grübel, former CEO of Credit Suisse and UBS. In his speech he looked at “geopolitics and market prospects”, encouraging the audience to think outside of the box.

This provided plenty to talk about during the breaks.

The WCM Study 2018 finding that the WCM principle of “less is more” is not universally applicable, sparked lively debate during the break. “Our analysis of SPI companies shows that company performance falls if working capital is both too high or too low. This means that there is an optimal level of net working capital, which has to be aligned with the company’s strategic goals and must take account of the supply chain,” explained Hofmann, Head of the SCF Lab. Companies are therefore advised to define their own individual working capital level, for example with support from an external WCM consultant.