With more than 20 years of financial experience, David Damiani is a great asset to our Atlanta Steering Committee. Currently serving as the CFO and Founding Partner of Balentine, David has been recognized by the CFA Institute for his innovative views on liquidity management. When asked about one of his favorite inspirational quotes, he shared the words of Winston Churchill, “Never, never, never give up.”.
Here are some of David’s thoughts and ideas about his career and the industry:
Describe your career path for us, including your advice along the way for other CFOs interested in this progression.
Overall, the best word to describe my career path is atypical. When my partners and I launched Balentine in 2009 our strategic goals were hinged on driving revenue. Based on my knowledge of the industry and my passion for pushing results, I embraced the opportunity to utilize my investment experience and take on more of a strategically focused finance role. Of course, I always like to think that my penchant for maintaining tight purse strings has certainly been a plus, too.
From a general perspective, successful CFOs are credited as sharp financial and accounting minds, which, obviously, they are, but I believe that the most successful CFOs are the ones who love to build and create everything, as I do, from portfolios and financial models to Legos and Lincoln Logs. A CFO lacking this tendency will usually look at the organization from a historical perspective rather than a means to shape the future.
What’s exciting for you as a CFO? What do you enjoy the most about your profession?
I really enjoy working with my partners to shape the future of our company. I spend a lot of “mind time” thinking about how to disrupt our industry to promote growth and protect our existing market share. Because the role of the CFO has evolved over the last 10 years to include more organizational oversight and risk management, I have an opportunity to drive efficiencies and productivity by bringing the company together to create greater harmony.
Balentine’s strong entrepreneurial culture makes my role very exciting and dynamic and it is so rewarding to work with a group of folks who focus on continual improvement and are always seeking out the next opportunity for growth.
What’s the one thing that you could do without as a CFO?
Kidding, I would say spending money! I prefer to invest money. Finding the balance between “pay me now” and potentially “pay me more later” requires a great degree of finesse and collaboration and can make the difference between success and failure. Fortunately, with a team focused on long term growth, we manage this dynamic tension very effectively.
The CFO/Board landscape changes all the time. How do you keep yourself educated on the latest developments that affect your profession?
As the CFO role has expanded and regulatory oversight has magnified, the amount of continuing education has similarly grown. In addition to an ever-changing landscape, responsibilities have broadened to include oversight of more areas that previously didn’t exist, especially cyber security. Striving to keep myself up to date, I attend seminars, network within industry organizations, and constantly review professional development literature. And, with the ultimate goal to protect our clients and business, I meet regularly with my Controller and Chief Compliance Officer to ensure we are all cross developing our skills.
As you work in multiple capacities in your company, how do you stay on top of everything?
To be most effective, I remain fluid and adapt to all situations. However, because I wear many hats, it takes strong organizational skills and continuous prioritization to stay on top of everything. And, without a doubt, there is never a day that goes according to plan. Yet, despite technology’s influence to allow us to work around the clock, there are still only 24 hours in a day. That’s why it is imperative to have strong communication and coordination within your team to identify the most critical items.
Describe your “Aha!” moment, or a crowning achievement to your career.
I’ve always been strong at executing tactical decision plans, but under the guidance of our CEO, Robert Balentine, I have developed a better sense of strategic leadership. Recognizing and understanding that virtually every business decision has second and third order effects has profoundly impacted my approach to management and leadership.
Any final words that you’d like to share with our CFOs?
One of the skills that I’ve come to appreciate more in the past few years is the ability to communicate effectively. While most CFOs are technically proficient, it’s the truly gifted ones who have the ability to “sell” their messages and create buy-in rather than simply using the power of the purse to influence outcomes.