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Survey Finds MMF Reform May Shift Short-term Investment Strategies

The Association for Financial Professionals (AFP) has issued its 2013 Liquidity Survey, which appears to show that companies’ short-term investment strategies may shift if the SEC’s proposed money market fund reforms are enacted in the future.

This year’s report shows that about 40 percent of organizations held greater cash and short-term investment balances during the first quarter of 2013 compared to 2012. Out of the 885 companies that participated in the survey, more than half of them allow the use of “pure” Treasury MMFs, commercial paper, and prime (diversified) MMFs to hold their short-term investments. While MMFs appear to currently be the favored investment vehicle, the study found the likelihood of the companies continuing to invest in MMFs is low.

The study concluded that in response to the proposed MMF reforms, “up to 65 percent of organizations would be less willing to invest in MMFs and/or would reduce/eliminate their holdings of MMFs currently in their short-term investment portfolios as a result of requiring NAVs to float.” Additionally, more than half of the organizations participating in the survey said they “would be less willing to invest in MMFs in their short-term investment portfolios should fund companies limit redemptions or charge fees for full redemptions of MMF holdings.”

The study reports that if the SEC requires MMF NAVs to float, which is one reform proposal, many organizations will have to revise their investment policies and look for alternative investments that offer “comparable safety, liquidity and yield” since changing to a floating NAV would “significantly change the risk/return profile for MMFs.” If the proposal to limit redemptions or charge fees for full redemption of MMF holdings is implemented, 56 percent of the respondents stated they would stop investing in MMFs. Furthermore, since most of the corporate investors rely on MMFs as daily cash management and liquidity tool, the report argues that any restrictions that limit redemptions of MMFs would “create severe operational constraints on investors, rendering MMFs unusable for daily use.”

To read the survey results in its entirety, please click here.