Primary and Secondary Sources of Liquidity

Liquidity management describes a company’s ability to generate cash when needed in order to meet its short-term obligations.

Effective liquidity management means that a company is able to manage its major sources of liquidity in an efficient manner. Although these major sources tend to vary from one company to another, they typically include primary sources of liquidity and secondary sources of liquidity.

Primary Sources of Liquidity

Primary sources of liquidity refer to funds that are readily accessible to a company at relatively low cost. They can be held as cash or cash equivalents, and include:

  1. Cash available in bank accounts;
  2. Short-term funds, such as lines of credit and trade credit; and
  3. Cash flow management

Secondary Sources of Liquidity

Secondary sources of liquidity include:

  1. Negotiating debt contracts in order to reduce the burdens of high-interest payments or principal repayment;
  2. Liquidating assets; and
  3. Filing for bankruptcy protection and reorganization

Using secondary sources of liquidity can impact a company’s financial and operating positions unlike primary sources of liquidity which usually have no such impact. Using secondary sources of liquidity can also signal that a company’s financial health is worsening and lead to liquidity being provided at a higher cost than usual.

Factors that Impact a Company’s Liquidity Position

The timing of cash receipts and disbursements can significantly affect a company’s liquidity position.

When receipts occur infrequently, especially after payments are made, a ‘drag on liquidity’ occurs due to the decreased availability of funds. Drags on liquidity include:

  1. Uncollected receivables;
  2. Obsolete inventory; and
  3. Tight credit.

Additionally, when disbursements are paid too early, a ‘pull on liquidity’ occurs due to the fact that companies will be forced to spend money prior to receiving funds from sales which could cover their obligations. Pulls on liquidity include:

  1. Making payments early;
  2. Reduced credit limits;
  3. Limits on short-term lines of credit; and
  4. Low liquidity positions.


Which of the following are primary sources of liquidity?

A. Negotiating debt contracts and liquidating assets

B. Ready cash balances and short-term funds

C. Filing for bankruptcy and cash flow management


The correct answer is B.

Ready cash balances and short-term funds are examples or primary sources of liquidity. A is incorrect because negotiating debt contracts and liquidating assets are examples or secondary sources of liquidity. C is incorrect because whereas cash flow management is a primary source of liquidity, filing bankruptcy is a secondary source of liquidity.


Reading 37 LOS 37a:

Describe primary and secondary sources of liquidity and factors that influence a company’s liquidity position


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