As backdrops for business conferences go, the birthday of the credit crunch,
the near collapse of the UK and US banking systems and the green shoots of
reflection on the capitalist mindset was more than we bargained for. But as a
result of the extraordinary economic environment we had on our hands this
September, the fourth annual Financial Director Summit was our best ever.
Finance directors and CFOs from across British business and government, from
the FTSE-100, FTSE-250 and private companies joined the Financial Director team
at the glorious Four Seasons Hotel in Hampshire to hear from some of the UK’s
best finance talent and exchange their own war stories. This year we had crafted
our two-day schedule to allow more networking time, and we were pleased to see
that FDs sought out their opposite numbers in their respective industries to
have deeper discussions about the subjects we tackled in our breakout sessions.
Our 26-strong speaker list this year included FTSE titans such as Richard
Pennycook, FD of supermarkets group Morrisons, Deloitte vice-chair and ex-FD of
BAA Margaret Ewing, Tesco FD Andrew Higginson, United Business Media FD Nigel
Wilson and Vodafone’s CFO Andy Halford. Opening the summit for us, Higginson
made no bones about why careful cash management will make the difference between
corporate life and death, warning delegates not to sleepwalk through the current
economic climate but not to panic. “Keeping control of the agenda, avoiding the
‘Tender Loving Care’ department of the banks and avoiding ‘Something Must Be
Done’ syndrome is really at the forefront of what you should be doing at the
moment and in the coming weeks and months,” he added (read our exclusive
Our panel discussion on auditors revealed a few enlightening questions over
exactly why the Big Four’s client base is all but a closed shop.
We topped off the first day with a hair-raising take on economic instability
and who caused it from HSBC senior economist Mark Berrisford-Smith, followed
later by BBC World News America anchor Matt Frei, whose take on Stateside life
and politics had our gala dinner attendees enraptured – and firing questions at
him long into the night.
Our final day closed with Richard Pennycook’s take on arriving at Morrisons
as turnaround FD – screening one of the company’s lurid 1970s TV adverts
featuring dancing girls to really crystallise the horror for all of us – and how
the ever-calm south Londoner took Yorkshire’s finest in hand to coax it back
into profitability, just as the credit crunch took hold.
The 2008 Financial Director Summit was sponsored by Oracle, Abbey UK
Corporate Banking and Watson Wyatt. To see details of our presentations and
speakers – and get an idea of what we might be bringing you in next year’s event
on 24-25 September 2009 – click on the
Director Summit link.
Email Briony Thompson at
to register early interest in next year’s Summit and you will receive a
specially discounted rate.