CFOs take center stage in crisis.



The global financial crisis has catapulted chief financial officers from behind computer screens to the forefront of the boardrooms, as they play a more central role in charting corporate strategy.

Lloyd O'Connor, managing director and regional product executive at J.P. Morgan Treasury Services, told corporate financial officers at a recent Latin Trade CFO Forum, that, from his perspective, the crisis has not only elevated the CFO's role, but redefined it at many companies.

"The role of the treasury function has shifted from what was an operating function--just part of the organizational DNA--to where you are now much more front and center in many boardroom discussions," O'Connor said.

"Increased globalization and complexity [are] part of that friction that you all have to live with and you are trying to optimize whether it is through working capital solutions, hedging foreign exchange and other improvements in process," he said.

O'Connor warned financial executives that they need to incorporate controls and procedures that will limit company exposure to financial fraud. Luckily for CFOs, there are new tools and solutions for cash management. The CFO Forum offers the financial officers a chance to share their experiences and discuss solutions.

Alex Sotelo, regional controller, Yahoo! Latin America, said that his company--which operates in numerous countries and has exposure in a number of currencies--decided to look at how to deal with its outstanding balances in foreign currency. The company opted for a central netting center rather than settle separate currency transactions. The benefits include providing great transparency. "You have less transactions to deal with. It improves controls,"...

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