No one hates letters of credit (LCs) more than treasurer Tom Durso of Burton Snowboards. The privately held company, based in Burlington, Vt., has had its share of them, since it sources and ships its chic clothing and avant-garde snowboarding equipment throughout the world. The many varieties of LCs can take an average of 15 days to complete, as bankers pore over a transaction's minutia looking for indiscernible discrepancies. To Durso, they simply tie up business deals and disrupt one's ability to manage the company's working capital. "Letters of credit have long been the bane of my existence," says Durso. "It is truly an archaic way of doing business with pieces of paper shuffling around the globe."

It's not surprising then that he took steps earlier this year to automate LCs out of his life–or at least, eliminate them as much as possible–through more efficient management of Burton's financial supply chain. Durso's first step: move five of the company's key vendors onto TradeCard Inc., a New York-based, one-stop, global trade finance shop. The treasurer of the world's leading maker of snowboards hopes to have everyone onboard next year.

Durso expects to reduce his costs by one-third to one-half this year alone. "It allows me to plan more precisely," he says. "I don't have cash around that I don't really need. With the LC process, I'd have to keep a fair amount of cash around, available for that unforeseen LC hit. With TradeCard, we have the visibility of being able to find these transactions anywhere in the system and knowing when the cash flows are coming in. It helps cash management substantially."

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