The Finance Function in a Global Corporation

Harvard Business Review 86, nos. 7/8 (July – August 2008).

Historically, the finance functions in large U.S. and European firms have focused on cost control, operating budgets, and internal auditing. But as corporations go global, a world of finance opens up within them, presenting new opportunities and challenges for CFOs. Rather than simply make aggregate capital-structure and dividend decisions, for example, they also have to wrestle with the capital structure and profit repatriation policies of their companies’ subsidiaries. Capital budgeting decisions and valuation must reflect not only divisional differences but also the complications introduced by currency, tax, and country risks. Incentive systems need to measure and reward managers operating in various economic and financial settings.