After studying this chapter, you should understand:
The basic types of financial management decisions and the role of the financial manager.
The goal of financial management.
The financial implications of the different forms of business organization.
The conflicts of interest that can arise between managers and owners.
To begin our study of modern corporate finance and financial management, we need to address two central issues. First, what is corporate finance and what is the role of the financial manager in the corporation? Second, what is the goal of financial management? To describe the financial management environment, we consider the corporate form of organization and discuss some conflicts that can arise within the corporation. We also take a brief look at financial markets in the United States.
Page 21.1 Corporate Finance and the Financial Manager
In this section, we discuss where the financial manager fits in the corporation. We start by defining corporate finance and the financial manager’s job.
WHAT IS CORPORATE FINANCE?
Imagine that you were to start your own business. No matter what type you started, you would have to answer the following three questions in some form or another:
1. What long-term investments should you take on? That is, what lines of business will you be in and what sorts of buildings, machinery, and equipment will you need?
2. Where will you get the long-term financing to pay for your investment? Will you bring in other owners or will you borrow the money?
3. How will you manage your everyday financial activities such as collecting from customers and paying suppliers?
These are not the only questions by any means, but they are among the most important. Corporate finance, broadly speaking, is the study of ways to answer these three questions. Accordingly, we’ll be looking at each of them in the chapters ahead.
THE FINANCIAL MANAGER
A striking feature of large corporations is that the owners (the stockholders) are usually not directly involved in making business decisions, particularly on a day-to-day basis. Instead, the corporation employs managers to represent the owners’ interests and make decisions on their behalf. In a large corporation, the financial manager would be in charge of answering the three questions we raised in the preceding section.
The financial management function is usually associated with a top officer of the firm, such as a vice president of finance or some other chief financial officer (CFO). Figure 1.1 is a simplified organizational chart that highlights the finance activity in a large firm. As shown, the vice president of finance coordinates the activities of the treasurer and the controller. The controller’s office handles cost and financial accounting, tax payments, and management information systems. The treasurer’s office is responsible for managing the firm’s cash and credit, its financial planning, and its capital expenditures. These treasury activities are all related to the three general questions raised earlier, and the chapters ahead deal primarily with these issues. Our study thus bears mostly on activities usually associated with the treasurer’s office.
For current issues facing CFOs, see ww2.cfo.com
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