Livonia Conference Aims to Help CFOs Diversify Skillsets


Top business presenters will cover everything from banking and finance to mergers and acquisitions at the second annual CFO/Controller Trends & Best Practices conference, to be held Thursday and Friday at the VisTaTech Center Schoolcraft College in Livonia.

“A misconception of what (CFOs) do is that it’s limited to finance and accounting,” says Ren Carlton, managing director of RenCat LLC, which is presenting the two-day event with the Michigan Association of CPAs. “But good CFOs are cross trained to do sales, marketing, operations, IT, and HR. So the whole idea is to make CFOs better at the skills that they wouldn’t have been trained to do.”

The conference offers about double the content from last year, with eight speakers including keynote R.J. King, editor of DBusiness magazine and DBusiness Daily News; Carrie Leahy and Edwin J. Lukas, attorneys and partners at Bodman PLC; and Erick Meier, president of Sandler Training.

“These speakers are high to middle-market people who are at the top of their game in different skill sets,” Carlton says. “And we’re bringing them all together for these CFOs.”

Carlton says the conference will explore different trends in technology, including marketing automation, which creates sales opportunities through digital marketing. “If a person is in the market for IT services, we present with them ads that say, ‘Here are some IT opportunities, here’s an article about IT.’ It tracks behaviors and gives people the opportunity to buy, rather than trying to sell to them. It doesn’t push the sales process.”

Carlton says it’s important to be aware of such trends. “The CFO typically is going to be the gatekeeper for some of these things coming in through the front door. So if the CFO gets blindsided, they can come off as uninformed. But now they’ll be aware of it, so when the vice president of sales says, ‘I’m looking at this opportunity,’ they’ll already have some basic knowledge (about the subject),” Carlton says.

Registration is $698 and includes continental breakfast, lunch, and snacks. For more information, call the Michigan Association of CPAs at 855-594-4273. The two-day conference will also make a stop in Grand Rapids on June 10-11 at Grand Valley State University’s L.V. Eberhard Center.