Miami LT CFO event: key topics: Economic review, CFO Award, improving forecasting and multi-country financial management.

Author:Mann, Joseph A., Jr.


Latin America is expected to see real GDP growth of 3.9 percent this year after an estimated 4.6 percent in 2011, Kathryn Rooney Vera, Senior Macroeconomic Strategist and Partner, Bulltick Capital Markets, told participants in the LT CFO Forum in Miami on December 2, 2011.

Consumer prices in the region are projected to rise 6.6 percent in 2012 after an estimated 7.3 percent last year.

The worst case scenario--a collapse of the euro--would lead to a recession in Latin America. But a less dramatic, "basic case" European scenario would not mean much for Latin America. The region is resilient, Vera said, and there is not a 1-to-1 relationship with international trade because internal markets have grown.

Christian-Philippe Schrader, Vice President, CFO and Strategy, Walmart Latin America, received the LT CFO of the Year Award and spoke about multinational dynamic growth and expansion.

Companies today must find ways to give consumers what they're looking for, Schrader said, since consumers have become much more price conscious, cha-nnels are shifting from informal to formal and new opportunities exist in expanding e-commerce.

Critical decisions include choosing which market segments you want to reach, developing a "people plan" to find and retain the best talent, making sure you offer the best product at the lowest possible price and working closely with suppliers to keep down costs and pass savings along to customers.

In a theme repeated throughout the forum, Schrader pointed out that CFOs at multinationals have to deal effectively with the "eternal struggle"--balancing demands of headquarters vs. individual countries. The key to successfully managing this, he stressed, is converting the CFO's job from bookkeeper/controller into that of a trusted business partner in the organization.

Joe Andris, Treasurer/Finance Manager, Latin America, Caterpillar Americas Services Co., and Patricia Cabarcos, Managing Director-North America, Datarisk, took on the task of talking about improving forecasting and budgeting processes.

Andris provided tips on annual budget forecasting, typically an onerous process. Caterpillar starts from the bottom up at the district level and applies top-clown feedback from headquarters. Try to be as accurate as you can, he suggested, avoiding underestimates and back-and-forth with HQ. Credibility is important and building a reputation for accuracy helps achieve this. With credibility, you can successfully...

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