Ten things for CFOs to worry about in 2011

1. A rise in UK VAT

This is the first to hit the beach -- on 1 January. UK VAT rises to 20 percent, its highest level ever. CFOs should focus on two issues -- margins and cashflow. "Key customers may be particularly sensitive to pricing and we may see margins squeezed if it's difficult to pass on price increases," says Andy Tait, executive director at Bibby Financial Services.

Reclaiming input VAT quarterly could also tighten cashflow for highly geared companies already operating on tight margins. "Firms should ensure they build in the VAT rise to cashflow forecasting," adds Tait.

2. Banks that don't lend

It's still difficult to squeeze loan cash out of the banks, despite the protestations of the British Bankers Association to the contrary. The banks' priority is to rebuild their balance sheets rather than lend cash. "UK banks now have five times more capital and seven times more liquidity than in the pre-crisis period, so their financials are much stronger," points out Phil Molyneux, professor of banking and finance at Bangor Business School.

And with the Bank of England pressing banks to swap more debt for capital, don't look for a big improvement any time soon. Two alternatives to the traditional term loan: for larger companies, the bond market; for smaller -- asset-based financing, such as invoice discounting.