For many companies across the United States, growing internationally remains a top goal. Financial executives see potential in both established and emerging markets, and transportation and technology have advanced to the point where firms of almost any size can consider doing business beyond U.S. borders. Yet global expansion often brings new challenges, whether it's navigating a new set of regulations or ensuring a team has adequate cash in a certain country.
As a result, financial officers and their banking partners have become more innovative as companies increasingly look for business opportunities in global markets.
Though it is not surprising that U.S. companies are more active internationally, a recent survey reveals how these firms are expanding their reach. The Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2013 CFO Outlook survey asked more than 600 financial officers if their companies sell to, buy from or have operations in foreign countries. Buying from non-U.S. markets was the most common response, reported by 62 percent of CFOs, up from 47 percent in the previous annual survey.
Financial officers shared similar growth in other categories, reporting increased selling to non-U.S. markets (55 percent in the 2013 survey versus 34 percent in 2012) and operations in non-U.S. markets (30 percent in 2013 and 15 percent in 2012).
When all types of involvement in global markets are taken together, 73 percent of CFOs said their companies had some kind of international activity--a significant increase from 54 Percent just one year earlier.
Add to that the International Monetary Fund's forecast that 87 percent of world economic growth through 2017 will take place outside the U.S., and it is clear that companies are giving more consideration to foreign markets. With that shift comes more focus on financial reporting and investment in key areas--not only maintaining access to capital but also improving visibility and control of funds, optimizing working capital and better managing risk.
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As the world's 10th largest architecture firm, NBBJ is no stranger to working on big projects around the globe. The Seattle-based company opened its first non-U.S. office more than a decade ago in the United Kingdom. The more recent opening of the company's Shanghai office was a natural progression of that growth.
"We see significant opportunities globally, especially in Asia," says Brenda Clark, NBBJ's controller. But expansion...