Multiple members of the treasury and FP&A functions at ABM Industries have attended the AFP Annual Conference as a team for many years. Attending as a team allows them to ensure that multiple members of the organizations get to experience the benefits that comes with regularly attending the biggest event in treasury and finance.
ABM regularly sends between eight and 10 people every year. According to Susie A. Kim, Treasurer and Vice President of Investor Relations, senior leadership at ABM has supported AFP for a long time, valuing both the organization itself and the annual conference. “Our CEO attended last year, board members have spoken at the event, and our executive vice president and CFO [Anthony Scaglione, CTP] is a previous Chairman and board member of AFP,” she said. “There is certainly support at the top.”
DEVELOPMENT AND NETWORKING
ABM primarily looks at the conference as a development opportunity. “The events and scheduled speakers are always very pertinent for the finance group, particularly within both treasury and FP&A,” she said. “It’s both professional development and continuing education.”
As such, staff members who attend are required to earn the Certified Corporate Treasury Professional (CTP) or Certified Corporate Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A) Professional designation.
ABM also sees tremendous value in the event in terms of networking with financial peers and meeting with banks and technology vendors. “I was amazed at the number of attendees,” Kim said. “On a day-to-day basis we deal with more than 16 banks at any given time and the majority of them are clearly represented at AFP.”
For Kim, who attended for the first time last year, meeting with all of ABM’s banks was incredibly beneficial. “Many of our banks held networking events, and those were particularly helpful to me to understand the vastness of our whole bank group better,” she said. “Walking the floor and meeting with vendors also helped me understand the resources available to treasurers and how we might be able to improve our practices.”
Attending as a group also affords different groups at ABM to collaborate and work closer together. “We have field FP&A, corporate FP&A and treasury attend,” Kim said. “It’s an opportunity for those in different pats of finance understand each other’s roles. So it has a double impact.”
ABM generally works out a strategy for all staff members that attend; they meet in advance to discuss the overall approach to the event. “There is clearly dedicated time when we go out to the floor and get up to speed with our vendors,” Kim explained. “Then we split up, and there’s a little bit more autonomy on the session front because everyone has different roles. So it’s kind of a ‘divide and conquer’ approach.”
ABM mandates that its staff members who attend come back with some type of strategic idea to share with the rest of the organization. “There needs to be some type of takeaway from it that you can apply to the upcoming year,” Kim said.
So as treasury and finance professionals can see, attending AFP 2019 as a team clearly has advantages for an organization. While there are plenty of education and networking opportunities for those who go alone, attending with other members of your department can help you create a strategy for how you approach the conference, as well as help you bring more insights back to your organization.
More information on attending AFP 2019 as a team, as well as pricing and registration information, is available here.