Today’s CFO doesn’t just share financial information with the C-Suite. They also serve as technologists, analysts, personnel leaders and strategists.
So says Mark Brockelman, senior vice president and CFO at Sage Dental, a dental service organization based in Boca Raton, Florida. Joining Sage Dental in October 2020, Brockelman has extensive experience in accounting, financial planning and analysis, mergers and acquisitions, and financial leadership across private equity and growth-oriented companies.
Brockelman spoke with StrategicCFO360 about the four pillars of successful finance chiefs, why it’s important to always be learning and how CFOs should think about new technology.
How has the CFO role evolved in the last decade?
The role of the CFO has evolved past simply sharing financial information with key decision makers. In addition to the stewardship of the organization’s financial activities, the CFOs of today are key strategists and instrumental in the value creation process. As such, today’s CFO works closely with other departments across the business to plan and instill a healthy financial approach and develop a holistic vision that helps the organization perform better overall. Success in the role is achieved by focusing on four key pillar areas: technologist, analyst, personnel leader and strategist.
What is your advice for other CFOs in their quest to differentiate their organizations from competitors?
The best CFOs never stop learning. Continuously looking for ways to improve is a hallmark characteristic of a great leader. CFOs can differentiate their organization by staying active in its strategic development. Additionally, it is imperative that CFOs are aware of what’s happening in the field. They should have an understanding of the challenges, obstacles and hurdles that staff face on the front lines of a growing business.
Having a solid strategic vision is a relatively new pillar in a CFO’s role. He or she must be able to see the entire picture—not just the current state of a company— but where it should be going in the future. An effective CFO will understand the steps that must be taken to achieve this objective and lead an organization into a promising future. An average CFO will discover problems, but an effective CFO will alert others to issues before they become full-blown issues, and will have a calm, encouraging demeanor while implementing a strategic pivot.
As the CFO of Sage Dental, one of the fastest growing dental companies in America, what financial initiatives have you focused on this year and why?
I have focused on developing a sustainable infrastructure to provide a consistent basis of support for our growth. Additionally, I have leveraged repeatable operational efficiencies that scale as we grow. Another key element of ensuring smooth and effective growth without compromising on the patient experience or outcomes is the proper use of technology platforms. At Sage Dental, we are well positioned as the leader in technology solutions to support our offices and deliver the very best patient healthcare.
What do CFOs need to keep in mind given the increasing prevalence of private equity in healthcare, and particularly within dentistry?
It is imperative that companies continue to stay ahead of the curve with healthcare. Private equity investments demand a novel approach with new solutions. For example, through a strategic partnership with Pearl, Sage is able to support treatments and workflows through empirical data gathered by using AI to read patient dental X-rays and aid in accurate diagnostics. By leveraging AI, we’re able to boost efficiency, accuracy and consistency for the best patient outcomes. Put simply, DSOs that do not keep up with the latest technologies will be left behind.