With the financial crisis giving a new emphasis on risk management, enterprise risk managers are putting a renewed emphasis on cash and cash flow, a new survey finds. The survey conducted by Stamford, Conn.-based Towers Perrin, quizzed risk managers about the importance of certain activities they will be considering over the next six to 12 months.

Cash flow was deemed important or essential by 81% of respondents, while 77% listed earnings, followed by revenue (74%), liquidity (72%) and market share growth (37%). What’s more, 57% of respondents said they had changed their cash management practices; 49% said last year that the change was in the offing. The impact of the crisis was also evident in short-term operating budgets, where 60% of respondents said they made changes to short-term operating budgets this year, while only 44% said they were planning on them a year ago.  

“It’s all about earnings, liquidity and cash flow,” Arun Bansal, a Principal with Towers Perrin’s Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) practice said in a statement.  “You can make the argument that top-line revenue isn’t as important as you might expect.  Companies are most concerned with managing the parts of cash flow that they can’t control, that is, the parts for which they have less information and depend on other parties for success.”

However, when queried about the specific areas of risk management most in need of improvement at their respective firms, both operational risk (22%), and market risk (16%), were cited ahead of liquidity risk (14%).

The numbers also betrayed some pessimism about the short-term macroeconomic environment; with only 30% of executives indicating the recession would end in 2009, while 53% ventured it will end in 2010.

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