Investment banking firm Financo Inc. is shaking up its annual forum.
On Monday night, the company will host its 26th Annual Financo CEO Forum, but this time it will be at a different venue, with a slight shift in format. The program begins at 4:30 p.m. at 583 Park Ave., and instead of a panel discussion will feature a fireside chat format between Flower Beauty founder Drew Barrymore and her father-in-law and former Chanel Inc. president Arie L. Kopelman. There will also be a short presentation by Jim Manzi, cofounder of MasterCard company APT on big data within the retail industry. And Imran Khan, chief strategy officer of Snapchat, will be part of a presentation and live tutorial. A cocktail reception will follow the event.
Financo founder and chairman Gilbert W. Harrison said, “Last year we had 300 attendees. This year we’ll have over that number for an event that initially started with just 10 people. ”
Monday’s event is a continuation of that evolution at Financo. In 2012, Harrison brought in two partners, John A. Berg and Colin S.A. Welch. Berg is chief executive officer, while Welch is president and chief operating officer. Harrison continues as chairman. All three executives comprise Financo’s troika, with no one holding a majority stake.
That change expanded the boutique firm’s focus to consumer brands, beyond its core retail and apparel history, reflecting in part the deals Berg and Welch did before joining Financo as well as the belief that consumerism is undergoing a sea change that now takes into account globalization, technology and changing demographics.
For the first time, the event will focus on beauty.
Berg said, “We are obviously big believers in Flower Beauty….We are fascinated by how brands develop so quickly in [today’s] world. It took S.C. Johnson 100 years to develop its business, but today brands can literally launch and explode very quickly. Drew’s business marries her star power with today’s social media.”
The ceo said he expects the mergers and acquisitions front to keep the firm busy all through 2016, given the firm’s pipeline. “Our business is really good. If we go into another recession, a deep one, it’ll cause everybody to hold off [on deals], but I don’t see that happening in the next two years.”
Welch, based in New York, spends much of his time in London overseeing the European operations and spearheading cross-border transactions. And Berg said that at some point the company would likely need to open a West Coast office.
One goal that’s temporarily fallen to the wayside has been the planning for an investment fund. Financo had been eyeing the launch of a private equity fund of at least $75 million to invest and incubate early-stage consumer firms with annual volume at the lower end of the middle-market spectrum, but that currently is on hold.
According to Berg, “We’ve been so busy in our core business that we haven’t had the time or energy to dedicate to formalizing that idea.”