Many UVA Darden Strategic CFO Roundtable Members Predict Pro-Business Policies Under Trump Administration

By Laura Hennessey Martens

Chief financial officers from leading companies in the Washington, D.C., region recently discussed how the new Trump administration might impact the national and global business environment during the latest Strategic CFO Roundtable, a select peer-to-peer forum hosted by the University of Virginia Darden School of Business Institute for Business in Society.

Convened on 5 January at CEB headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, the roundtable was joined by new Institute for Business in Society Executive Director Joey Burton and Darden School Chief of Staff Dean Krehmeyer as they shared their outlooks on the global and U.S. economies.

“There’s some hope that a new administration will be a little bit more business-friendly than we’ve seen in the past eight years … and then there’s tax reform, which will help business,” said one roundtable member.

“I do think tax reform is going to happen and some regulatory matters will be lessened, but we’ve had Republican Houses, Senates and presidents before and those rules weren’t lifted,” another member said.

While many anticipate similar deregulatory, pro-business policies that have been the hallmark of previous Republican administrations, a majority of the members also noted the heightened degree of unpredictability and uncertainty that the new president brings to the business climate, markets and the economy. Some members speculated about the degree to which President Donald Trump would remain true to campaign promises or perhaps drift to more moderate policies regarding trade, for example.

As the discussion around the new administration turned to broader observations about business trends and the economy, another member offered a key trend to watch. “One that’s of more interest to me is to watch how companies, like General Electric and Ford, are undertaking really impressive digital transformations. Their strategies are changing in some incredibly fundamental ways right now, giving me some strong optimism about where the economy and our companies are going.”

Even with their overall optimism for the future, the roundtable members recognized that there are many recurring business challenges that need to be explored both from within industry and throughout the larger government and business environment. One such challenge is attracting and retaining talent in ways that will create a viable, sustainable workforce over time.

“We just can’t get our head around how to get what we want without paying more, without losing our best people to one of our peers,” said another member. “I think that the biggest challenge we’ve got is how to develop a workforce for the next 10, 20 or 30 years — and we’re nowhere near thinking about that.”

Additional insights from this session are available in the report, “Views from the C-Suite.” The next roundtable will convene in May 2017.

Roundtable members are selected CFOs from publicly traded and certain private equity-held companies headquartered in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.

Darden Professor Kenneth Eades and The ILEX Group Managing Principal and General Counsel Jane-Scott Cantus, an Institute for Business in Society Fellow, founded the Strategic CFO Roundtable in 2008. In 2013, the Strategic CFO Roundtable was adopted as a key initiative of the Darden School’s Institute for Business in Society.

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About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D., MSBA and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


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