Let’s Find Our Seat At The Table

By Heidi Deiner

As a mother of four living in the suburbs of New York, I have attended countlesscocktail receptions, charity fundraisers, and other events that inspire casual conversations about current events and business trends.  These conversations take place among individuals who are often successful, educated, and who work in various industries.

Ten or fifteen years ago the topic of private equity rarely came up, and if it did, not much was said or known about the subject. However, thanks to the last presidential election – and especially to Mitt Romney and Rod Stewart – people have a lot more to say about private equity today. The challenge though, is that most of what I’m hearing is far from the truth!

Unfortunately, the public perception is that private equity is a bunch of rich people who get richer off other people’s money by firing people and selling companies.  But after working in financial services for the last eight years, I see firsthand the true value that my colleagues and peers in the private equity arena actually provide, not only to their clients but to the overall American economy. I now find myself at cocktail parties explaining that my neighbor’s pension fund would not be thriving were it not for XYZ private equity firm who invested in company ABC, and that thanks to private investments, the middle market employs over 44 million people in the U.S., and that small U.S. manufacturing companies and family businesses have survived only because of such investments. Yes, I’ve gone from sipping wine at the kitchen island to the soap box!

In my day job, I work with several private equity CFOs/COOs/ CCOs, and as I listen to them voice their concerns about the harsh regulatory climate. I often ask myself: “What can I do as the new President of ACG New York and what can we do as an organization to affect more favorable policy for our industry?”

First and foremost, we can educate people: people in Congress, people in the industry, and people in general. We need to take the mystique out of private equity and instead promote the growth stories that have remained untold in years past.  ACG Global has been actively involved in developing a voice in policy matters affecting the middle market and giving ACG a seat at the table . With the pendulum swinging too far in the direction of excessive regulations, the result has imposed costs and compliance burdens upon those who seek to help U.S. businesses flourish.  All participants in the industry need to help strengthen this voice in Washington.

It is my hope that ACG New York can be a catalyst for change and have a positive impact on public policy. In doing so, we will build upon all the hard work of numerous ACG members prior, who dedicated time away from their day jobs to be a part of a broader discussion.

ACG Global will hold its first ACG SEC Task Force Meeting today, October 22nd, hosted by The Riverside Company in New York. The goals of this meeting include laying out an active agenda for the next several months, establishing tangible goals and building an infrastructure that will allow the Task Force to impact public policy in a favorable way. On October 23rd, ACG will host in partnership with Merrill DataSite a live simulcast in NYC called “SEC Regulations’ Impact on Private Equity Firms: Marketing and Deal Origination Strategies to Stay Ahead… And Compliant.” The breakfast begins at 8:30 a.m. at the New York Hilton Midtown – all are welcome to attend.

I am proud to say that ACG New York is quickly becoming a trailblazer for other ACG chapters to get involved with the efforts of ACG Global. I hope you will join me in support of our industry the next time you take a seat at the table.

Heidi Deiner serves as the President of The Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) New York, was a founding member of ACG New Jersey’s Women of Leadership organization and also served on the NY Steering Committee for The Women’s Association of Venture & Equity (WAVE). Heidi is presently the Director of Client Relations for Murray Devine, a Philadelphia-based valuations firm and is also the Director of the New York Private Equity CFO Association, a networking organization for senior level financial and operational professionals in private equity funds, venture capital funds, and fund of funds.

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