Topics: Event

Serent Capital's 2019 CFO Summit

Finance leaders in the Serent portfolio met to exchange best practices and lessons learned that helped them take their company to the next level of growth.

January 07, 2020

Serent Capital’s CFO Summit recently took place in Austin, Texas. Over 20 CFOs and finance heads attended to take part in panel discussions and presentations ranging from building a board pack to improving pricing and contracting. It was an engaged, collaborative, and lively group of attendees that helped make this Serent event a success.

“When working on a budget model, try not to get bogged down by all the tiny details. Start with broad strokes and build from there.”

The summit covered four major topics:

Lessons learned on annual budgeting: The summit kicked off with a panel discussion focused on budgeting that included leaders from BirchStreet Systems, Compeat, KORE Software, and USATestprep. Key takeaways from the panel included:

  • OGSM (Objectives, Goals, Strategies and Measures) is a helpful process to align numbers and strategic initiatives. This model divides your aims into broad objectives, fixed and measurable goals, strategies to guide your actions, and measures to give you a direct way of monitoring your progress.
  • Ownership of the numbers by functional leaders can be established by taking a bottom-up approach to building the budget.
  • When working on a budget model, try not to get bogged down by all the tiny details. Start with broad strokes and build from there.
  • Creating a budget for a new product can seem overwhelming at times, however, Serent’s Growth Team maintains a library of portfolio benchmark data that is a good resource to use for comparables.

Building a Board Pack: Next, a representative from FranConnect discussed the intricacies of building a board pack. This discussion was particularly helpful to the newer Serent CFOs, who can often struggle to find the right balance between breadth and depth of information. Ultimately, more tenured CFOs suggested that effective communication between the executive team and the Board can help drive a product that is useful for the business.

Leveraging KPIs: From there, a representative from Real Green Systems outlined best practices for developing key performance indicators (KPIs). These included:

  • To ensure adoption in the organization, KPIs should have clear ownership, be easy to manage, and be linked to the budget. Further, KPIs should be tailored to the needs of the business.
  • KPIs should include a mix of not only lagging, but more importantly leading indicators to help the business see around corners.
  • KPIs should not simply be reported to management or the Board, but should help drive the behaviors of the business. Any “red” KPIs, for instance, should have an action plan for shifting them back to “green”.

Improving pricing and contracting: Moving forward, a representative from Motility Software Solutions presented a case study on pricing and contracting. They highlighted:

  • When determining the potential to adjust pricing, competitive positioning, churn, customer satisfaction, and other factors can be helpful inputs.
  • That said, many companies spend a lot of time figuring out how to “set the price” without enough time allocated to figuring out how to “get the price”.
  • If leveraging a pricing consultant, tight integration among that consultant, the company, and Serent’s Growth Team is important for a successful project.

“KPIs should include a mix of not only lagging, but more importantly leading indicators to help the business see around corners.”

“We have seen success deploying this framework within our portfolio.”

This year’s CFO Summit contained a great group of attendees who helped make it a success. There were insightful presentations and discussions covering topics that matter to CFOs and heads of finance. The open dialogue led to questions and topics that we’ve already marked down to discuss next year.

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Serent Capital invests in profitable, growing service companies. We typically invest in founder-led companies and often represent the first institutional capital in the company. We are highly selective, choosing to invest in only a handful of businesses each year. Our selectivity ensures that all our companies receive the attention and expertise that they need. Learn more about our portfolio companies.

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