CFOs & COOs Forum 2019: What to watch out for

With more than 600 delegates gathering for next week’s forum in New York, we’re expecting robust discussion around some of the issues that matter most to the back office.

The biggest event in the private equity CFO’s calendar is coming up next week: the 16th annual PEI CFOs and COOs Forum. More than 600 delegates will gather in New York for the two-day event exploring all aspects of the finance and operations of private equity firms, from valuations to outsourcing to tax reform, and – overarching it all – the ever-evolving role of the CFO.

Here are some of the things I am expecting:

Views from the top

The two biggest firms in the business – Carlyle Group and Blackstone – will be represented on stage. I’ll be interviewing Blackstone’s Michael Chae and look forward to getting into the weeds on how to approach the CFO role at a firm with so many moving parts.

Debate around performance calculation

Fill a room with private equity CFOs and discussion will inevitably turn to the best way to calculate performance – and how best to benchmark that performance against others. As we found out last year, this is not a simple question. With no standard method for calculating performance, it’s pretty much the case that each firm has its own way of doing things. I’ll be interested to see whether any consensus is growing around a best practice.

Some grown-up discussion of subscription credit lines

Some of the more heated discussion about fund leverage has given way to considered debate about the correct way to employ subscription credit lines. Two questions will be up for debate: first – now we have seen a high-profile default of such a line in the form of Abraaj Group, how are lenders modifying their approach? And second – will the changing market environment affect the way GPs think about these products?

A game-plan on greater diversity and inclusion

CFOs have a big role to play in advancing their firms’ agendas on diversity and inclusion. With two sessions dedicated to diversity issues, I’ll be looking out for concrete action points delegates can take back to their offices and implement.

Analysis of the increasingly LP-focused nature of the CFO role

As limited partners increase their scrutiny of back-office functions, CFOs are finding themselves sitting down with investors during the fundraising process more and more often. A huge majority – 83 percent – of CFO respondents to a recent survey conducted by sister title private funds management together with fund administrator SANNE said LPs “sometimes” ask for an audience with them during fundraising, and 13 percent said a meeting is always demanded during the due diligence process. With 2019 shaping up to be a big year for fundraising, I’m looking forward to chatting to CFOs about how they’re balancing this increasing responsibility with the multitude of other tasks on their plates.

Are you attending the CFOs & COOs Forum next week? Want to say hello? Drop me a note at