Should CFOs spend more time with their peers?

In his article on titled “The Power of a CFO Network,” Jack McCullough describes the many benefits experienced by a wide range of CFOs at the FinConnect 2021 summit. This summit was focused on the CFO and organized by SoftBank investments. The purpose of FinConnect 2021 was to bring together the CFOs of the more than 250 SoftBank portfolio companies. 

On the FinConnect website, the event was summarized as follows: 

FinConnect is a CFO network built on common experience, knowledge sharing, and lasting relationships. It is a global community of CFOs from leading technology companies coming together to network, ask questions, and build connections for the benefit of every member. 

A ‘thank you’ note on the website further describes the success of bringing this CFO community together. 

“ SoftBank Vision Fund I & II portfolio companies join a one-of-a-kind ecosystem comprising world leading financial institutions, experts, and service providers, with the skills and know-how to help them scale from startup to IPO and beyond. “

The purpose of FinConnect 2021 was to bring together the CFOs of the more than 250 SoftBank portfolio companies. 

The world has no shortage of business conferences. Las Vegas is uniquely built to host a large number of conventions. By some estimates, there are over 20,000 meetings and dozens of large-scale conventions in Las Vegas each year. 

Beyond Vegas, most midsize to large American cities host their own share of conventions. It should be no surprise that San Francisco is host to many conventions centered around technology. 

The pandemic converted many conferences to an online format and following the release of vaccines many conferences began moving back to a physical presence. 

While most conventions are not centered around the CFO per se, they do include events tailored to the CFO. 

SoftBank has a lot at stake in the success of its portfolio companies. They are betting the CFO role is a key driver of success across these companies and that a conference allowing for sharing best practices and networking will pay big dividends. 

If you are a CFO, do you attend conferences to meet with your peers on a regular basis? A conference is just a means to an end. The real goal should be for the CFO to establish a network of peers who they can rely on for advice, support, and to share best practices. Similar to the CEO role, the CFO role can be lonely at the top. They may have a strong team below them but they are subordinates. They can reach out to the CEO, but that relationship varies from company to company. Not to mention the CEO is the boss, making those conversations more formal. In many cases, the CEO never before held a CFO role. That would make them less able to advise on topics where only another CFO living the role is able to.

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