CFO of Broadway Technology discusses how CFOs can be a strategic partner to the CEO and investors

Longtime Consero client, Scott Sanders, CFO of Broadway Technology, a software and fintech company backed by Long Ridge Equity, BC Partners and HPS Investment Partners, discusses his experience with Finance as a Service and describes the value it brings to his role as CFO and to the organization overall.

During the discussion, Scott tells us how Consero’s Finance as a Service model enables him to:

  • Free his time from managing the back-office so he can spend most of his time adding value to CEOs and Investors
  • Keep the cost of the F&A function low and reduce business continuity risk with Consero managing all hiring, training and backfilling of the finance team
  • Easily pass an audit and quickly turn around large info requests during due diligence
  • Have “less worry” because of Consero’s checks and balances and a solid process for closing the books

Finance as a Service: Buy + Build Strategy – Creating Amazing Customer Experiences and Services

Bill Klein, President of Consero, is an entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience with technology and services organizations ranging from startups to large organizations. He speaks with Anand Krishnan, Managing Partner of Thinkbridge, seed investor, and technologist who is specifically focused on helping growth stage companies become technology companies.

In this discussion, Bill and Anand discuss how businesses can keep up with the number of software platforms that are required to run a typical business, yet provide amazing customer and employee experiences. They also explore Consero’s SIMPL platform for Finance as a Service. The SIMPL platform abstracts the complexities of using multiple platforms and people powered services, to deliver a simplified and targeted user experience.

CFO Client Discussion with Wes Edwards, CFO of Multi-Location Healthcare MSO (backed by Sverica)

Consero’s Finance as a Service enabled the newly hired CFO to focus on being a strategic partner to the CEO with confidence that the basic finance function would be handled properly. Watch the on-demand video (recorded Sept, 2021).

Top 3 takeaways:

  • CFOs can’t be a strategic partner to the CEO if they are stuck in the finance & accounting function
  • Passing an audit and closing the books in a timely fashion is essential when exploring capital markets
  • Building a finance function piece by piece will be more costly and result in a longer timeline because implementations always take longer than promised

Take a look at why Finance as a Service and a fully managed financial solution could be a fit for you:

You can also read the MedFirst case study and learn more about how the CFO was able to get an investor-grade financials and upgrade the finance function without having to build it from scratch.

Would you like a short introduction to Consero and learn about how your organization can benefit from Finance as a Service?

  • Connected Data
  • More Time on Strategic Initiatives
  • Audit & Due Diligence Ready
  • Process & Controls
  • Financial Visibility
  • Poised for Growth

Schedule a 30-minute intro today: reserve your time here.

An Interview with Bill Klein – Using technology to deliver amazing customer experiences – Season 1: Episode 1

In this episode, Bill Klein, the Co-founder and President of Consero, discusses the way they are changing the way business build and maintain the finance function with their innovative Finance-as-a-Service (FaaS) solution.

We talk about their technology strategy and their technology platform, appropriately named “SIMPL”, which is a brilliant unification platform that simplifies their customer’s lives. They are bringing meaningful tech to middle-market, high-growth businesses and investment management executives.

Instead of reinventing the wheel, Consero pursued a strategy of using a best-to-class solution stack that is already available but building their differentiator which is a unified delivery platform. This platform gives their clients access to a fully integrated finance & accounting software platform with role-based, self-service tools – allowing for more insight and control in the business. Think of it as ‘Mint’ for business.

Listen to podcast on Spotify

Consero Roundtable: Add-on Acquisition Readiness – Is your finance team ready for that next acquisition?

Recently, Chris Hartenstein, Consero’s VP of Customer Success, hosted a conversation about the role the finance function can play in an add-on acquisition strategy and how to develop a readiness plan that paves the way for a successful integration. 

More than ever, buyout groups are investing in industry platform plays with an aggressive acquisition strategy to build value, but that requires a swift and competent integration into the operations of the buyer. So what role does the finance function have in ensuring that happens? Consero Global’s VP of Customer Success, Chris Hartenstein has personally helped integrate 18 companies with their buyers over the last year and knows the real-world challenges of the process.

He hosted a chat with Trey Chambers, the CFO of the B2B software tools provider IDERA, that has been owned by multiple PE firms, and Elizabeth “Scottie” Wardell, the Managing Partner of the middle market PE firm, Integrity Growth Partners. And for the perspective of a target company, they’re joined by Steve Isom, the CFO of donor management software and system provider Bloomerang, who had recently supervised the acquisition of his previous employer, Flywheel. Below is a lightly edited version of their conversation.

Chris Hartenstein (CH): What are some of the key priorities that companies should be looking at as they negotiate closing some of these acquisitions? Trey, you’ve managed 17 acquisitions over there, so tell us what you look for. 

Trey Chambers (TC): We haven’t always been good at it, but we keep learning. The key for all M&A is a good target, and that means knowing what you’re looking for. We have an M&A team in-house, with a pipeline of targets, and we’re always looking at who’s in our space and building those relationships, as a lot of our acquisitions are through our informal chats [with targets]. Most of all, I’d make sure there’s a strategic purpose. Maybe they have a better technology or one that doesn’t do what your [offering] does, or maybe it merely removes a competitive threat. Some are growth acquisitions, some have recurring revenue, maybe they have an older technology, but offer an opportunity for synergy. We think our ideal target has some combination of those qualities.

Once we have a target, we create what we call is a “skinny model” with high level financial information from the target, and then we’ll discuss a purchase price based on revenue or EBITDA multiples and then pressure test that as we begin diligence. You need to make sure you’re ready. We hire Deloitte to do a “quality of earnings report,” which takes the historical financials and does the equivalent of a mini-audit that traces any anomalies, one-time events, etc., so we truly understand the company’s historical performance. Then we assign the various diligence duties. We have a diligence tracker, and after all these years, we have a good one that tracks cash management, who’s doing the GL, and so on. Our goal is to get these deals done in 60 days, although it still tends to be 90 days, so it’s still pretty quick. The goal is to finish, or cut bait quickly.

I used to have a small team focused on diligence, but now I invite a lot of the team on a lot of the calls, because we used to close the deal, only to struggle with integrating the company afterwards. But now everyone is up to speed prior to close, so we can hit the ground running.

Elizabeth “Scottie” Wardell (ESW): I’d like to reiterate Trey’s point about having a sound rationale and thesis for this acquisition. It can be attractive to say, “I can get this at a really cheap multiple,” but if you don’t have great rationale that fits with the overall story of the company, when you go to sell, the buyer will unpack why this was added, and you won’t get credit for simply adding dollars to your P&L. In fact, it may distract from organic growth opportunities. Don’t be too focused on how things look on paper, because it still has to makes sense to the overall business thesis.

I’d add that people should think about these acquisitions structurally. What does it take to finance these acquisitions? If you’re going to incur debt, will that put a burden on the company’s other growth activities? So you should think about where the capital is going to come from, especially as I work with a lot of lower middle market companies that are at key organic growth inflection points, in addition to whatever M&A strategy may be explored.

CH: Steve, you’ve been on the other side of all this, having been recently acquired. What’s your perspective?

Steve Isom (SI): Something to consider with these deals is by the time diligence begins, it’s really confirmatory. There’s already a thesis and a LOI, so the role of finance is to give them confidence. Think about every interaction with a potential buyer as a chance to  further build that confidence in the business. This means erring on the side of transparency, giving the internal roadmap of controls, policies, forecasting and tell the story of where you were, where you are and where you were planning to go. I think you can develop a good relationship with the acquirer, so if you find yourself in a situation where a number you shared was incorrect, or there’s a detail that you pulled, you’ve built that rapport and trust with the acquirer, where you can have an open conversation about it, rather than trying to sneak by any adjustments to the data room.

CH: So much of what you need to make these acquisitions a success come from the finance function, and when the target’s finance department is in disarray, it can stall the deal. So what are some red flags that you’ve seen that would give you pause, and how have you ensured your finance teams don’t wave any such flags too? 

SI: There’s this idea of deal readiness. There’s a difference between an unsolicited inbound offer and going into an exclusivity process, or hiring a banker where you have 60 days to prepare. I’ve made a point to have info available and structured to be ready for that. When you’re on the acquirer’s side, you’re really looking for an efficient process at the target. Is the finance leader inheriting any operational debt? Are there things broken in the processes here?

ESW: If the numbers keep changing, or if different systems are saying very different things, that’s a red flag. This doesn’t imply anything nefarious, just that there may be more “noise” around the earnings. Inconsistency matters. In the presentation of the numbers- how confident are they talking about the numbers? How comfortable are they with them? What are the key drivers? Are they coming off as transparent, or do they bristle when I get to the next layer of questions? Some of that can be discerned by the body language of the different parties, say between the CFO and CEO, and if there is tension. Are they cutting each other off? Maybe there’s a lack of coordination and those are red flags. If you can’t reconcile cash at the end of the day, that’s most certainly a red flag as well.

CH: I like the idea of body language and making sure that people are being transparent. Trey, what are the red flags are you seeing?

TC: Is the data easy to reach? Are questions answered quickly? Is there pushback- some of that pushback is legit, but when it’s not, you need to decide [if it’s worth that trouble.] Acquiring small and unsophisticated is much harder than acquiring large and sophisticated, in terms of integration. A lot of companies in the lower middle market are cash-based by nature, so they’re not as mature on the process and accounting front, which means you’ve got to pick up the pieces post-close. I’ve always told my team, get everything you can pre-close, since if this is a synergy play, you may lose people who know things, and they are far more motivated to give that data before closing.

CH: Smaller deals take as long, if not longer, to close than big ones. In getting ready for deal, what should you have on hand from a finance perspective? 

SI: Most of the time, people underestimate how long it takes to integrate a business. Take any pain point in your business and understand that it will amplified and exacerbated during this process. Get the teams working together as soon as possible- maybe they outsourced or they have a great team. As Trey said, you have their attention before closing.

TC: One of our CEO’s favorite statements is “Get to the future.” The future is always scary but we know we need to get there. 90% of the time we want to use our processes and our playbook and the seller is, like everyone else, convinced their way is the best way. These are difficult conversations that don’t get any easier, so it’s best to have them upfront.

Next, have a staffing plan. I understand which positions are there and which will still there after the deal closes, and be sure to plan on turnover, complete with a back-up plan. The last element I’d suggest is that we do is weekly integration meetings about two to three weeks before the deal closes, if it looks likely. And we start building from there. Three or four weeks after that, we’ll invite staff from the target as well to participate.

CH: Scottie, what’s the value of the finance function of either side of the deal?

EW: [The finance function] can serve as a “quarterback hub” for the integration and analysis work. I’d add, think about the change management opportunity. It’s a lot of people getting together to do things different, and there will be energy from acquirer and target, and the more thoughtful you are there, being methodical about culture and giving opportunities to show shared goals and deal with any “hidden” info. How do you factor in people’s fears and hopes around this process? How do you optimize the best of the both groups? Things can get damaged if you don’t tackle the human element here, no matter how fancy the algorithms are. And the finance function can play a role in this.

SI: That’s especially true if most of the staff will be staying. Over-communication is key. Put yourself in their shoes. There are all these assumptions from the acquirer that there are these key people we want to stay, and well, the acquirer needs to say just that. Tell them that they are those key people. And to Trey’s point, if you try not to rock the boat, and assure them that they can keep most of their processes in place, every little change will seem all the more disruptive.

TC: People getting acquired are by nature scared, and they’ll assume the worst. “I’ll be fired,” or “The new processes will be worse.” So don’t string anyone along. We’ll meet everyone across functions within a week of the deal closing, and update them if we know we need them, or if we know we don’t need them, and even that we’re not sure yet, but promise that as soon as we know, we’ll tell them. People like certainty, and that will engage everyone faster for the Company’s future. People appreciate that, even if it’s bad news.

CH: Exactly. Don’t leave them in limbo. Steve. From a deal readiness standpoint, how did you share data when your prior company was acquired? It was an unsolicited offer, correct?

SI: That’s right. And from the first meeting to close was, I think, roughly 30 days. We had recently been through an equity raise so there were a lot of materials already in hand, and as a recovering investment banker, let me tell you, a professional presentation lends a lot of credibility. And honestly, we benefitted from having Consero. Because of their process, the team completed a full diligence list from Deloitte in 24 hours, and that kept the deal rolling along. That instills a lot of confidence.

CH: What else can a finance function do to help close these deals and scale both finance teams together? 

TC: Consero is great at onboarding new companies, since everyone that moves to their platform is coming from another platform. So Consero moves those companies to the platform efficiently, which allows us to focus on the business. And don’t forget the financial planning and analysis side here. So we refine that skinny model from the LOI stage and have a final model in place, and then we focus on that as we move forward. For all these acquisitions we measure them on a stand-alone basis for the first year so we can measure the P&L off the model and focus on the KPIs, to gauge where we are compared to our plans.

SI: You also need to make sure the CFO understands the thesis and the success criteria for the deal. Explain to the CFO the five or six milestones along with a reporting cadence against those metrics, and there’s no better way to assess success.

ESW: There’s always a lot of moving pieces post-close so I’d stress there needs to be a clear project management function, or at least a systemic approach over who owns what. And  finance can help lead that systemic approach. And losing sight of that can cause plenty of unnecessary value destruction.

TC: To that point, as part of our playbook now, we created a diligence tracker and appointed someone to manage that tracker. It keeps everyone on their toes, and keeps the integration engine humming.

SI: As a seller, make sure there is a project manager before the close, and that QB needs to make sure that the context of the deal is kept in mind. If that head of R&D answers the questions in a vacuum, there can be problems. Someone needs to make sure that the responses are consistent. CH: And that consistency can build a lot of trust. I think we all know that  no acquisition will be successfully integrated without that, and the finance function plays no small role in building trust in the numbers and the process, along the way.

Investor Roundtable: Raising Capital Amidst COVID-19 – Investors Perspective

(filmed June 4, 2020)
Consero’s Private Equity Roundtables enable Investors & Portfolio CEO’s/CFO’s the opportunity to gain valuable understanding and share actionable information for the middle-market tech and PE community.


The conversation was led by Natalie Townsend, VP of Sales for Consero. Consero is a Finance as a Service provider whose portfolio of clients include over 130 sponsor-backed software and services businesses that range from $10M to $200M. Natalie shares trends, tactics and observations that we are seeing in the small to mid-market space during this economic disruption.

Holly Maloney – Managing Director of General Catalyst
Holly invests in and partners with disruptive, growth-stage software driven businesses. General Catalyst is a venture capital firm that makes early-stage and transformational investments. General Catalyst backs exceptional entrepreneurs who are building innovative technology companies and market leading businesses, including Airbnb, BigCommerce, ClassPass, Datalogix, Datto, Demandware, Gusto (fka ZenPayroll), HubSpot, KAYAK, Snap and Stripe.

Tyler Newton – Partner, Catalyst Investors

Tyler Newton is a growth private equity and growth stage venture capital investor. Tyler is a Partner at Catalyst Investors, a leading growth equity firm focused on investing in high-growth, middle market private companies in technology-enabled services sectors. He currently focuses on investments in the software, food tech and business services sectors.

Thomas Kershisnik – Managing Director, Five Elms Capital

Thomas Kershisnik is a Vice President at Five Elms Capital, a leading growth equity firm that invests in fast-growing, SaaS and internet-enabled businesses. Five Elms partners with growing, founder-owned software and services businesses, providing capital and resources to accelerate growth and further cement their role as industry leaders.

Tanner Cerand – VP of Investment Research, Build Group

BuildGroup is an operator-led investment company that provides permanent capital to entrepreneurs building the next generation of technology businesses. Prior to joining BuildGroup, Tanner was responsible for building and leading research & business development strategies at Vista Equity Partners. Before Vista, I worked at Gerson Lehrman Group (GLG), UBS Investment Bank, and Ferris, Baker Watts, Inc.

Condensed Notes from Panel Discussion:

Raising Capital Amidst Covid-19: What is the current obstacle course for Private Equity? 

  • There is still money in the market and ready to be deployed to help brands grow. The biggest change lies in not the money itself, but the appetite for uncertainty.

The changing outlook on valuations:

  • The outbreak has turned every investor into an impact investor as they deal with the unfolding human and economic fallout of this market disrupter. A combined humanitarian and financial catastrophe requires a business approach that looks beyond the bottom line.

How are PE/VC firms evaluating market in Covid 19:

  • Need for understanding the impact of portfolio companies as they touch every corner of the economy
  • Map critical stakeholders and develop a communication plan for each stakeholder group to maintain trust and reputation. Focus on cascading quality communications to portfolio companies
  • Business that are exclusively focused on travel, teleconference, finance and enterprise security – basically all ends of the exposure spectrum
  • Net new investing activity that are certainly on those which may work significantly like healthcare, telehealth, remote work, enterprise security and other digital consumer service model that have excelled dramatically
  • Focus is on area which is well known, and not getting to know new investors/enterprise
  • Investments are active as innovation and business cycle don’t stop
  • It’s the understanding on how pipeline conversions are taking place for the next two quarters what is the cash collection going to look like, need to make sure the businesses are well capitalized
  • Great businesses are still raising money in this environment
  • Activities on both Investor side and investing side are pretty strong

How to make investments more virtual

  • No more an option for meeting publicly for conference or flying. People are trying to maximize the Zoom option.
  • The combination on so much dry powder available more than ever with public equity market
  • A big reset in valuation is expected. Big companies are still getting well-funded and healthy valuation.
  • Need to work to make those connection in this virtual world

How is the remote conference working to make transaction virtual

  •  Depends on the nature of the conference if the conference is one of the industrial balances where larger companies are trying to develop new customers relationship or to know the thematical understanding of the business rather than knowing them individual level
  • Companies have put good resources to meet more people, big companies spend time with people and they want to see how its going to work virtually
  • The companies have their own agenda that they set to get productive
  • Investment banking conference which is typically set up to meet companies back to back through out the day is quite productive because here it is focused discussion without any distraction
  • Bank conference where we have on one on one are more efficient
  • Concentration of capital is seen and businesses spend lot of time to know who got funded this week
  • The more usage of tools is required to create this special experience in long lasting trans

How is the Portfolio company progressing working remote?

  • Business have seen success. PE portfolio companies are being efficient. Product and Development teams’ productivity is higher
  • Establish a common crisis response structure for portfolio companies — one with clear responsibilities and direct accountability
  • Taking reviews and taking foot prints helps, it’s a big eye opener
  • Update scenario plans and agree on actions to cover a 3-6 month impact and a 12-18 month impact, as well as a process to update these plans weekly
  • Need to bring team together, analysis is on what it is going to happen from a year now if people are continuing to work from home
  • What do you to about the counter aspects and that busy culture at the office but it is still working fine
  • Need to recreate the environment for the young and new recruits as everything is starting virtually for them and need to induce them to culture of organization
  • How you maintain culture, build rapport and inclusion that in the virtual world

How is the Traditional Enterprise Sales Module going to get digitalized?

  • Explore the new option, know the new platforms, more usage of Software and tools that allow collaboration and able to crisply articulate the value of proposition of what is sometime a complex sale remotely – especially inside the enterprise security
  • Building a strong social media presence is essential for digital sales
  • We often find companies that have excellent operational discipline but fail to apply a similar rigor to sales
  • Improving the odds, unifying the digital experience, connecting the digital supply

How is the Management getting to know the executives?

  • Establish structured daily check-ins
  • Provide several different communication technology options
  • Everyone knows that this is less than an ideal scenario which demands more time commitment
  • Upfront of the understanding having more frequent dialogues, having more connection points on one to one basis across the whole executive team and more frequency of connection is what expected and welcomed
  • It is not the management getting to know the team/executives it is time where team getting to know the management. More direct interaction is complemented.
  • Need to be creative with respect to references and sort of engagement scores of the company and study the NPS of the culture of the businesses
  • Dynamics of the team and the scale ability of the company helps
  • Early stage partners say that this is the better time than ever to understand the people
  • This is really humanizing element like how world is getting to know each other now. More casual discussion needs to be encouraged.

Advice to the companies who want to raise funds now:

  • It’s good idea to start early in building relationship. Less travel is involved. People will have more time to have that 30min to 60min Zoom call before necessarily hit the capital.
  • High velocity outbound calls to potential portfolio investments are welcomed. Volumes with respect to travel have gone down from 40% to 30% but the quality of conference calls which is an internal measure of the quality of business have gone up.
  • Quality calls are divided into two groups one is the companies that are planning to raise capital other one who are trying to explore their options and just trying to know more investors.
  • More than 50 thousand dollars is spent for these market studies and to know any basic facility available that can help
  • Deals are getting closed without having met people personally, it is time ad value on how to meet people effectively via Zoom
  • The biggest component that is missing is the ability to enter the company and to sense the company’s culture, energy and style. You can absorb a great amount just sitting in the lobby of the office. How to sort through executive dynamics, collaboration and working style is something needs to be figured out.

If any funds fell through during COVID what is the need of reevaluating it now?

  • Those long list of committed but not yet closed investments during COVID. Days’ worth meeting when COVID hit to understand that fundamental long-term structural shift in whatever these businesses is specifically dealing with.
  • Reassessing helps to keep the promise in terms of funding

What could be done differently if the situation was known two months prior?

  • Conserving cash flow in business. Using capital wisely to grow the business and stay on it.
  • Gathering good resources in team can change the things to to the good.
  • In such downtime companies think of staying stiff on the position rather than getting large share in the market
  • Scenario planning in each company is must. Practical conservative plans need to be put in place to know its effect. Analyze the structure, capital efficient growth would last.
  • Sales has been trimmer here and there, a plan on how many sales person is required can help

How are you using your Brand/Voice to speak up about the standing?

  • We do have a recognition and platform and extensive reach to portfolio companies so it is not only our direct voice it is also about our extended support to empower the voice of the companies we have invested
  • We insist companies to make a statement of standing of solidarity and support and acknowledgment of everything which is going right now
  • We have been operating for little while but not systematically, we have to try to do better. It’s almost like dancing on the thorns, it’s not what you did yesterday and tomorrow. It is all about day in and day out what you do for the next part of the year to make the world a better place.
  • In industry network is huge part of success that everyone enjoys. Be it a investor side or Enterprise side.
  • Help someone excel. They may not have the same connections or networks of the ecosystem that you do. How can you make connections for the folks that could be potential life changing and can make changes to the industry over long term.
  • What we do as investors is build strong relationship through investments
  • CEO’s completely shift in their business model because of COVID and get back on the right track and are seeing the successful of those efforts

What kind of companies are PE/VC targeting?

  • From short term thematic perspective view we made some short-term sprints that we worked on to both potential value-oriented investments and momentum investments.
  • Certain industries that we have deep roots like for really long period of time, for example travel industries
  • For us it is to think how we envision that world of travel is going to change, what are the new business models and experiences
  • From the B to B software perspective we are tying to understand the friction of the market cycle
  • How do we make sure we invest in the short term, behind the great business that have amazing natural expansion within our customer base
  • It may be more challenging to acquire net new customer; how do you make sure you have backing platform so that they can expand in relatively low friction environment
  • Ability of the business to survive from good time to bad is something that more investors are keeping eye on
  • We believe best business model win, this concept of modern business model around. If SaaS is leading a world just, SaaS is not enough anymore.
  • In those places where it has got effected, digital players are the one who are getting share. SMB’s are trying to come up back faster


CFO & Investor Roundtable: Building a Financial Survival Kit for Portfolio Companies

Most CFOs and private equity firms didn’t build COVID-19 into any of their investment cases, but that doesn’t mean they’re powerless to respond. The pandemic is a threat to business continuity, plunging demand and disrupting supply chains, which can eventually lead to liquidity issues, pressure on covenants, re-financing requirements, and increasing third party risk.

Join us for a peer-to-peer discussion with CFOs that have extensive Private Equity expertise. Consero will share observations of our client portfolio as well as hear insights from CFOs about what tools and tactics their finance teams are using to navigate their biggest challenges.

Any CFO and private equity partner will come away with concrete ways to mitigate risks and plan for best and worst-case recovery scenarios at their portfolio companies.


Our goal is to share what we are seeing across the companies we are involved with in hopes that it provides a nugget or two to help you navigate your companies or portfolio companies through this crisis.


The conversation was be led by Scott Tynes, CEO of Consero. Scott will be sharing trends, tactics and observations that we are seeing in the small to mid-market space during this economic disruption.

Jonathan Holmes, CFO, CCO and Managing Director of BV Investment Partners
BV is a private equity firm that invests in North American companies operating in tech enabled businesses services and IT sectors. BV has invested in 102 platform companies across 10 funds.

Jack McCullough, Founder of the CFO Leadership Council and Senior Contributor to the Forbes CFO Network
Jack has been a CFO for 26 companies. The national membership of the CFO Leadership Council reaches 2,000 finance executives over 27 chapters.

Donald McClure, CFO of PELITAS, backed by Tritium Partners
PELITAS is backed by Tritium Partners. Prior to PELITAS, Donald was VP of Corporate Development / FP&A at Brinks Home Security with responsibilities in capital markets, corporate finance, M&A, strategy and investor relations. While at Brinks, Donald completed a $2.0 billion balance sheet restructuring, $1.9 billion of debt refinancing and $575 million of strategic acquisitions

Michael Abramo, Portfolio CFO for M33 Growth
M33 Growth is a private equity firm that makes minority, growth equity, and venture capital investments in software, healthcare and business services. Mike serves as CFO across multiple M33 Growth portfolio companies (currently AssuriCare and RHI Group) and has 20 years of strategic finance experience.

Drew Powell, EVP & CFO of Defyned Brands
Defyned Brands is an omni-channel, lifestyle-driven health and fitness company with 50+ locations. Prior to Defyned Brands, Drew led various functions at LDR Holding which was acquired by Zimmer Biomet for $1B.

Four Areas of Focus:

  • Business Continuity Planning
  • Cash Management
  • Scenario Modeling
  • Going on the Offense

Business Continuity Planning

Virtually overnight, your company must work and service clients remotely. As this unfolded you had to assess whether you could you run your business today and produce consistent service delivery for your clients.

How has lockdown affected company’s ability to maintain customer-level satisfaction?

  • Significant shifts in consumer demands and behavior impacting sectors from consumer and retail, to manufacturing, life sciences to automotive
  • Organizations that operate with transparency and open communication have inherent advantages when events require quick actions to react and reshape
  • Focus is to build positive customer
  • Challenge is in transmitting the instore transactions to an online experience

What are the focus points in terms of team management for effective business continuity?

  • Prioritize people safety and continuous engagement
  • Work location can be decided based on what suits best to the company
  • Ask employees for the concerns or challenges on operating remotely
  • Reassess if work done by each team can be paused, re-located or continued
  • Leverage multiple channels to communicate information that is in line with public health recommendations on the prevention of pandemic infectious disease outbreak to the employees

What are the challenges in operating the finance function working remotely?

  • Making the finance process cost efficient through increased automation
  • Streamline controls by leveraging technology and reducing manual intervention.
  • Change finance focus from back-office “bookkeeper” to “trusted business advisor” to the business
  • Develop the approach, architecture, roadmap and business case to support the transformation
  • Demand high accountability
  • Ensuring security in terms of data storage
  • Strong focus on streamlining and simplifying finance function to reduce manual intervention

Cash Management

The panel talks about the one thing that is top of mind: Cash. Let’s share some data points on what you have done to strengthen your cash position.

Successful key’s –

  • Maximize the use of government support policies like PPP programs
  • Regional community banks look more reliable and quicker in terms of processing loan
  • Additional guidelines received from SBA and the treasury in terms of cash management
  • SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities
  • Documenting the need for cash or the access to credit in terms of cash balance of the company
  • Loans greater than 2 Million are going to be audited
  • Keeping people fully employed is going to be beneficial
  • Ventures to keep their debt burdens at manageable levels
  • Businesses that compromise on growth temporarily by keeping indebtedness low are likely to sustain a good momentum of growth over the longer period
  • Determine whether the organizations have adequate visibility into their cash positions, determine their cash needs, and address any shortfalls
  • Develop a plan to sustain a stable liquidity position over the next 12 to 18 months and beyond

Internal steps to strengthen the cash position –

  • Coding the Sick leaves related to Covid-19 separately from that of PTO and documenting it with an anticipation to get some funding
  • Clear, transparent and timely communications are necessary when creating a platform to reshape the business and to secure ongoing support from customers, employees, suppliers, creditors, investors and regulatory authorities
  • Working smoothly with bank and good communication may help as more affluent bank customers can gain access to better interest rates than what is advertised to the general public

Covid-19: Rent mitigation and negotiations between landlords and tenants

  • Requests from tenants to pay less rent for a fixed period of 3 or 4 months, for the period during which the Covid-19 virus affects business
  • Remainder/Extension of lease period
  • Request to suspend rent payments for a short period
  • No free rents, short term affirmation depends on capital structure off the landlord

Scenario Modeling

In the current environment, more than ever CFOs depend on accurate financial data to create scenario models that they can trust.

A lot of public companies are saying they can’t even provide forward looking forecasts right now. Are you planning on a V shape, U shape, L shape?

  • Evaluate short-term liquidity. Companies will want to instill short-term cash flow monitoring discipline that allows them to predict cash flow pressures and intervene in a timely manner
  • Identifying expenses which are not critical to servicing your clients with no interruption
  • Be Patient in securing investments
  • Maintaining healthy relationship with contracted parties and banks
  • Analyzing cash position for 3 months down line to know the facts
  • It is important to stand united and help one another in whatever way we can, stay safe and stay healthy
  • Strong emphasis on reducing the overall costs and reshaping the finance function
  • Revisiting capital investment plans to postpone investments until the situation improves
  • More than survival it is good time to show strength and liquidity
  • Time to think on after crises opportunities
  • Once the COVID-19 outbreak is controlled, companies will want to review and renew business continuity plans. They will want to assess how existing BCPs are working. If there are deficiencies, companies will want to identify root causes, whether it’s timeliness of action, lack of infrastructure, labor shortages, or external environment issues. Companies will then want to consider putting new internal guidelines in place based on lessons learned, as well as solid contingency plans to build resilience and better respond to future crises.
  • Cutting costs not talent – While the hospitality and travel industries have experienced the biggest impact, other industries have been feeling the weight as well. Cost-cutting is the need of the hour, and it does not have to be a precursor of retention.
  • Furlough the employees is best option vs. lay-off
  • Furloughed employees will have the opportunity to return to a comparable position at comparable pay once

Going on Offensive

Winston Churchill said: “Never let a crisis go to waste”.  Actively reallocating corporate resources is even more important in a downturn than it is in good times.

  • Private equity is under less short-term pressure
  • Having PE as a partner increases the company’s capability
  • Extra capacity that PE shops has helps client get cross those finish lines
  • Private Equity firms provide flexible funding solutions and have all-time high levels of available funds (“Dry powder”)
  • PE firms are now looking to allocate capital to businesses with a solid plan and robust operations