Investment banking firm Financo Inc. will host its 27th annual CEO Forum today.
The forum, which will be held at 583 Park Avenue, begins at 4:30 p.m. The program will feature two panel discussions. The first is the rise of digital media and its impact on the retail and business industries. Karen Robinovitz, cofounder and chief creative officer of Digital Brand Architects, will moderate the panel. Social media influencers on the panel include: Arielle Charnas of Something Navy; Aimee Song of Song of Style, and Camila Coelho of MakeupByCamila and CamilaCoelho.com.
Robinovitz said, “In today’s culture, I don’t think there can be a conversation about retail and consumer behavior without the consideration of digitally native influencers because they’re leading and driving every conversation that has to do with shopping, especially fashion and beauty. We’re living in such an era of storytelling and authenticity that the old traditional advertising modalities don’t connect with people the way they want to be connected right now.”
The second panel will be a look at global investment trends in the current environment from the perspective of private equity. Moderating the panel will be Jonathan D. Sokoloff, managing partner at Leonard Green & Partners. Panel participants include: Andy Crawford, General Atlantic; Neale Attenborough, Golden Gate Capital, and Ryan Cotton, Bain Capital.
Crawford said some talking points will include omnichannel and experiential retail, as well as “what are the characteristics of some of the investments we’ve made, and what are some that we are looking for when we do due diligence on a new brand.”
Also on the agenda will be a short presentation by Sarah Quinlan, senior vice president and group head of market insights for MasterCard Advisors. MasterCard is a sponsor of the event.
Typically more than 300 internationally known executives attend the event, many of whom are in town for the National Retail Federation’s Annual Convention & Expo at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.
According to Financo chief executive officer John Berg, on choosing the topics for this year’s event: “As you know, we like to be reasonably current [about] the things on consumers’ minds, broadly speaking. In the last couple of years, there’s been the rise of social media, the rise of influencers and bloggers are the most significant part of that realm.”
He explained that whether the company is a retailer selling branded products or is a service provider, the category of bloggers is relevant to retail. The topic is relevant to leaders in the consumer space because each one needs to determine what is the most effective digital media strategy for his or her own firm.
The second panel on private equity is also relevant from an investment perspective, given the sea change in consumer shopping behavior, Berg said.
Gilbert Harrison, Financo’s founder and its chairman, said, “The reason we did two panels is because both areas are of interest to everyone there.”
As for learnings and takeaways, Harrison said: “Our hope is that [attendees] take away one thing they didn’t know before….We would consider our evening a success if they take one thing away [from the discussions].”
Financo is also expected to disclose that Brent Knudsen, founder and managing partner of Partnership Capital Growth, joined Financo on Jan. 2 as a member of the senior executive team.
Knudsen will be responsible for opening and managing Financo’s new office in the San Francisco Bay area. He will have oversight over the broad category of health and wellness, as well as provide support for other Financo efforts throughout the consumer and retail space.
“I look forward to building a substantial Bay Area office and to working closely with the Financo teams in New York and London as we solidify our position as the go to advisor in the consumer world,” Knudsen said.