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School Teams with CFO Alliance to Help South Florida Finance Leaders Identify Investment Opportunities

July 07, 2011
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University of Miami CFO Joe Natol (center) attended the roundtable discussion, along with Mel Maguire (left), the School’s associate dean for external affairs, and D.J. Nanda, a professor of accounting.
University of Miami CFO Joe Natoli (center) attended the roundtable discussion, along with Mel Maguire (left), the School’s associate dean for external affairs, and D.J. Nanda, a professor of accounting.

With many companies sitting on cash and holding healthy balance sheets, CFOs are looking to deploy their capital towards revenue drivers such as human capital, marketing, and sales and also towards mergers and acquisitions. That’s why the School of Business partnered with the CFO Alliance in June to host a roundtable discussion aimed at helping South Florida finance leaders determine how to identify the best investment opportunities.

“Some say, today…it’s less expensive and easier to do acquisitions than to organically grow,” noted presenter James Cassel , the co-founder and chairman of Cassel Salpeter & Co., a Miami-based investment banking firm. “Some feel that buying today is cheaper than building. It’s debatable about what’s more risky.”

Still, Cassel noted that merger and acquisition activity remains tepid, especially bigger transactions. He said that is true especially in Florida, with some exceptions such as the nearly $400 million deal announced June 27 between Metropolitan Health Networks Inc. and Continucare Corp.

“When you look at the sheer volume of these deals in terms of number, there are way more small deals than there are large deals,” said Cassel. “People are feeling a lot better today than they were…two, three years ago, but they’re still feeling very concerned.”

Cassel, who believes there is a good market and good opportunities for such deals, was joined in the discussion by Chip Vandenberg, a partner at Miami-based Trivest, a private equity firm that partners with founder and family owned businesses. Vandenberg said firms should also be looking at a variety of wise organic growth strategies. He cited as an example one of his company’s own partner firms, which had worldwide intellectual property rights for its products, but only one salesperson.

“We came in and the management team said, ‘we need to expand internationally.’ We said, ‘let’s fund it,’” said Vandenberg. “We went from year one with one person to year three with nine people, and took sales internationally from two million to 16 million.”

Vandenberg said all firms should be looking at search engine optimization and social media strategies as part of their marketing investments. He also cited smart sourcing of supplies and productivity process improvements as important priorities.

“If you have a warehouse, distribution facility, [or] manufacturing facility, you probably should have somebody outside [of the company] who’s smart about looking at processes come in and see if they can improve it with you.”

The roundtable discussion, which drew about 50 CFOs and other South Florida finance leaders, was the third in a series of such events since early this year, when the School partnered with the CFO Alliance to establish the national group’s South Florida chapter. The first two events featured presentations by D.J. Nanda, a professor of accounting at the School of Business. The next session will be held in the fall.

University of Miami CFO Joe Natol (center) attended the roundtable discussion, along with Mel Maguire (left), the School’s associate dean for external affairs, and D.J. Nanda, a professor of accounting.

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