‘To Zoom’ now baked into communications, agree CFOs

Virtual meetings and fundraising events are here to stay, said panelists at the CFOs & COOs Forum last week.

Chief financial officers say that virtual meetings are now embedded in the communications strategy of their office and among the deal teams, despite a gradual return toward in-person meetings as covid vaccination numbers climb.

Speakers across multiple panels at last week’s CFOs & COOs Forum New York agreed that “to Zoom” was among the permanent changes to their operations, even as some working patterns resumed.

“We’re going to consult with our LPs” about how best to communicate, said one CFO, speaking under the Chatham House Rule. “The human action of breaking bread we all miss, but the efficiency of what we were able to do with pre-recorded and virtual live events” is now a fixture.

Another explained that her firm pre-recorded briefings and updates, often in segments “so we could take them and use them in other areas… You felt like you were on TV for three or four hours with consultants and investors at the same time and not having to worry about plane and train schedules. It really didn’t slow down any of the fundraising and investor meetings.”

Another said her firm had reviewed “how much of our portfolio board meetings we should do (annually) in person… we could do at least one or two virtually and two in-person.”

Virtual, said one private credit advisory firm COO, means “the cost per at-bat has gotten less.” The saving in time and money on first-time screening meetings was the greatest benefit of virtual fundraising and one they would continue to employ.

The CFO of a middle-market private equity firm that recently closed its fifth fund said the fundraising and due diligence process sped along during the pandemic. “We can do three to four calls in a day,” she said, compared to that many physical meetings in a week.

Emerging long-term advantages of virtual fundraising include the ability to share and refer to documents easily, as well as the ability to bring larger numbers of partners onto fundraising calls. Pre-pandemic, it was more difficult to get schedules to align.

The CFOs and COOs Forum New York event is a membership benefit of CFO All Access, the exclusive community for private fund CFOs. The debate around return-to-work policies and vaccination enforcement continues in private on CFO All Access. To join and participate, visit https://www.peievents.com/en/event/cfo-all-access/