A Recap of the CFO Strategic Governance Forum in Philadelphia

Uncertainty & Value: the Primary Focus of Q1 Life Science Strategic Governance Forum

The Q1 Life Science CFO Strategic Governance Forum, hosted June 12-13 at the Loews Philadelphia reiterated concerns echoed throughout the industry, where uncertainty appears to be the primary concern and challenge for industry executives, who are facing a host of unclear regulatory clearance and access changes, which will impact the life science business across all functions.

Keynote panelists focused on the evolution of the role of the financial executive, and how the role has evolved in the past decade; what made a financial leader great 10 years ago are now essential skills for financial executives, noted one panelist, focusing on the need for financial executives to hone business skills combined alongside financial acumen. Uncertainty was also discussed, focusing on how increased uncertainty is resulting in a need for greater levels of risk management and modeling at all levels. For all executives, the consensus focused on knowing what factors can be controlled, balancing technical day-to-day finance with a strategy that translates risks and focuses on the known rather than unknown variables the industry faces.

Much discussion throughout the strategy session breakout discussions focused on healthcare and policy reforms and potential impact analysis of varying outcomes; from additional tax liabilities to the repeal of certain industry taxes including the Medical Device Excise tax, executives agreed that the industry faces many challenges in navigating financial uncertainty. Product pricing was also discussed at length, with a focus on the positive value that the industry is delivering to patients and healthcare delivery while at the same time providing discounts at many steps in the path from manufacturer to end-user. While much uncertainty exists surrounding policy changes, there was no uncertainty that reducing access to affordable insurance would have an immediate impact on the industry, reducing the access to products.

Day two opened with an interesting dialogue surrounding staff retention and succession planning, providing financial executives with an opportunity to discuss what attributes, skills and education are required to thrive in the dynamic life science industry. While companies routinely hire for skill, a focus on what is required beyond a certain skill set in terms of personal attributes, business acumen and an ability to grow within the position appear to be of equal value in establishing a succession plan and reducing turn over.

Overall, the program provided participants with a unique opportunity for engaging with like-minded executive leadership from the financial industry, with ample dialogue and discussion as well as networking opportunities. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our meeting sponsors for their support of this meeting and for their active participation in the meeting: DaVIZta, Deloitte, First American Equipment Finance, Kronos, Navigator, Peloton Group, Pramata & Wells Fargo Capital Finance. Also deserving of many thanks are our conference facilitators, whose active guidance during the strategy session breakouts provided thought leadership and fostered knowledge share.

Next up, we’re in San Diego this September, and looking forward to learning what has changed over the course of the next quarter.