I’ve Been NOK’d

In 2023, EFBC’s goal was to re-engage with membership. Our focus was to put significant effort into not only bringing back high-impact programming to our membership but working to think outside of the box to create truly memorable experiences. After a conference last summer, Executive Director, Liz Fidanovski, was inspired to design a program that highlighted the brilliant minds that make up our strategic partners, and an idea was formed. The support from our small, but mighty team truly drives the innovative ideas that come our way.

We have been able break down an idea into its parts and design something wonderful. Not to plug our programming committee, but if you have a cool idea you would love to see turned into an event, our committees are always recruiting. Committees are a terrific way to get involved and give back.

On Thursday, May 4th, 2023, at Ditka’s in Oak Brook, Illinois, the EFBC hosted A Strategic Partner Night of Knowledge. We combined the concept of our roundtables into an interactive event that saw attendance of close to seventy strategic partners, members, guests, prospects, DePaul University faculty, and staff. A usual roundtable is a 2-hour program, often held in the morning, which brings together a strategic partner with a topic that is top of mind to the membership where a discussion is built around shared experiences, curiosity, and expertise. So, we took that concept and completely turned it on its side. We approached the partners with the idea of all 7 of them hosting a shortened roundtable in one room and doing it twice, and surprisingly, they fully supported the idea. Night of Knowledge was born.

EFBC’s seven strategic partners are the lifeline of the organization. Their disciplines span law, finance, marketing, accounting, insurance, human resources, and banking. The partners offer consultancy and educational workshops. These devoted firms, who are fluent in the EFBC way, provide immeasurable expertise. The strategic partners underwrite our very mission and crucial to the health of EFBC.

Each strategic partner was tasked with facilitating a discussion on a hot topic of their choosing. We asked them, what are your customers talking about? What have members reached out to you about? What would you like to have a conversation about? Each of them provided the table topics and registration was successful. All 7 tables were full, and conversations were lively.

Being one of the organizing staff members, I had the unique opportunity to sit at all 7 and catch snippets of every conversation. Below are my takeaways from the table conversations that I was able to sit at for a few minutes:

ALERA Group, Marcus Newman, Vice-President: The discussion heavily focused on the topic of accessibility and covid tests. Employers have been requiring covid-presenting employees to test prior to returning to work. With insurance companies, as of May 11th, no longer covering at home tests should employers be re-evaluating their policies, especially with the costs of at home tests averaging $10-$15 per test? I would say so! Marcus also mentioned hospitals charging for PCR tests. Again, those used to be covered by insurance companies, but to recoup losses, the cost will now fall on the individual. Another hot topic was vaccines. Again, with all the changes, vaccines, if received out of network, will not be covered and will be the financial burden of the individual.

Burke, MacKay, Warren, & Seritella P.C., Liz Davis, Partner: To be fully transparent, prior to sitting at the Burke Law table, my knowledge of M&A was extremely limited, so I took the entire conversation with the perspective as it being learning opportunity. Time spent at that table was a discussion about the differentiation between stock sales and asset sales. Based on the members engaging in the discussion, who worked in chemical industries, when industries are heavily regulated, often, a stock sale would be preferred so that a buyer would not have to re-certify industry specific licenses. Another discussion that started was that of seller confidentiality. Liz mentioned the importance of keeping the information regarding selling confidential and even requiring the buyer to sign an NDA. This is primarily to help with uncertainty with the employees. Liz said that when you are considering selling to work with an attorney that has extensive experience with M&A.

Cray Kaiser, Ltd.Karen Snodgrass, Principal: At the point that I was able to sit with CK, one of the guests at the table was sharing an experience about the future of his business and succession into the next generation. This seemed to resonate with many members of the table, all of whom also were in similar situations, either the future of their business or thinking about the future. My takeaway was that transferring ownership involved careful consideration of tax implications. That it is important to seek experts to ensure a tax-efficient transfer that preserves the family wealth and supports the financial well-being of future generations.

Fifth Third Bank, Mike Moran, Senior Vice-President: With a broad topic, such as the economy, I was interested to see the direction this conversation would go. My arrival at the table was met with a discussion about the aging population, especially the sheer volume of people reaching retirement age. This led to a discussion about employee outsourcing and what that could look like, especially in manufacturing companies who are struggling to fill vacant roles. The consideration for international outsourcing was to work with employment firms in the countries you are looking to hire from to ensure international labor laws were being met.

ODEA, Patty Rioux, President: This table was deep in a conversation about remote workers when I stepped over. Patty was emphasizing her desire to keep her rockstar performers, and her flexibility and willingness to let them work anywhere. On her team, she has staff in 5 different states. She noted that even when she brings the team together, to build culture and to co-work, the company will cover the costs. That the cost to fly and house high performing team members a few times a year ends up being worth it. This conversation aligned well with what George at Psyched! was talking about, in that it is the responsibility of the employer to retain the high performing employees, because the cost to replace them, or for them to leave, ends up being much higher in the long run.

Psyched!, George Karavattuveetil, President & Founder: Psyched was a fun table to sit at. Immediately, prior to starting the meat of the discussion, George set the stage by addressing the terms that were going to be used during the roundtable and a shared discussion. He asked everyone what their understanding of the term “incenting” meant, and together the table cultivated a working definition that was defined as “the act of improving the chances that someone does something you want them to do, and focusing on the people you want to keep.” The framework of a shared understanding of the definitions of words really sets an intention for the conversation as well as ensuring every person is using the words unanimously. Sometimes words can have multiple definitions, so ensuring that a shared definition is used is a great way to start a conversation. Regardless of the content of the discussion, I really liked how he did this at the very beginning and will take that tip for myself moving forward.

Private Vista, Mary Beth Mclean, Senior Advisor: The Private Vista discussion, when I joined, was deep in discussion about life stage planning and the importance of financial planning at every stage of life. Individuals are never too young to set goals and make financial plans and decisions. There was also the important distinction between tax free and tax-deferred and to ensure you know which option your retirement plans have. A lot of individuals mistake tax deferrals with tax free and are surprised later at the addition of taxes.

In summary, as a non-business owner, every single table provided me with new knowledge and at least one nugget of information that I can apply in my current role. The event provided valuable insights and learnings on assorted topics, inspiring attendees, and fostering collaboration. I am confident that everyone else who participated was able to gain insight from our Strategic Partner experts. We heard multiple times throughout the night how successful the event was, and how our membership would like to see this event or something like it in the future.

Missed the event? Looking for resources? Members log in to access exclusive resources from the partners who moderated, CLICK HERE