A half-day conference held by University of St Gallen brought together more than 100 people from the corporate, vendor and academic worlds to discuss the current state of play of working capital management in Swiss companies.

Sponsored by PostFinance, the event included a number of presentations and discussion groups on subjects such as inventory management, lessons learned from payables finance, where supply chain finance sits with dynamic discounting, bank pooling and securitisation. Niklas Nikolajsen, co-founder of Bitcoin Suisse, talked on the theme ‘Blockchain: Building bridges between crypto currencies and trade finance’.

The conference also heard the results of new survey benchmark findings presented by Prof Dr Erik Hofmann of University of St Gallen, part of which addressed corporate familiarity with issues such as blockchain and digitisation. A panel comprising representatives from PostFinance, Valora Holding Siemens Schweiz and Swisscom discussed the implications of the research findings (downloadable from the ‘Trends in WCM 2016’ tab here, in German).

Judith Martin, chair of logistics management at University of St Gallen, said of the event: “We combined theoretical knowledge with practical experience, bringing the two together so they can benefit from each other.”

WCM Awards 2016

In the evening, the third annual Swiss Working Capital Management Award 2016 was presented in two categories, ‘Performance Excellence’ and ‘Innovation’.

The winner of the ‘Performance excellence’ category was Hemro Group, a producer of coffee grinders. They impressed the jury with the way they had turned around their business to become the best-in-class in working capital in just four years. The judges said that the company had, through a consistent, networked focus on working capital, created a significant change in the working capital management culture across the entire supply chain.

The winner in the ‘Innovation’ category was Advanon. This start-up company complements classic factoring with peer-to-peer financing and an innovative 24-hour creditworthiness check. The jury said that it was keen to see if Advanon will be able to compete on the market with established financial backers of SMEs.