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2021 Survey Report: The State of the PE Sponsor-CFO Relationship

Measuring, Managing, and Scaling the PE-Backed Business

In 2019, in the introduction to our first biannual survey, we wrote that the PE industry was “undergoing a period of profound change.” At the time, we were referring to a transition in the PE ownership operating paradigm: a shift from the traditional PE protocol, which invests in a business to accelerate its financial upside, and a newer playbook that takes a more institutionalized approach to portfolio operations and value creation.

Survey Report CoverThe world has undergone massive disruption since that time – a disruption from which the PE industry is not immune. If we thought that the changes underfoot in 2019 were profound, the COVID-related impact since then has been almost unfathomably consequential.

The economic uncertainty of the past couple of years has forced PE firms to reassess their portfolios. What were once “green,” stable, growth companies fell victim to pandemic-related issues, which quickly turned many of them a distressing “yellow,” while some saw the flashing signs of being in the “red” for the first time. Conversely, other, sleepier sectors and companies were positively impacted by the COVID economy and underwent periods of unexpected and accelerated growth.

As PE firms reset to adapt to the new normal of certain uncertainty, they must also reevaluate the role the CFO plays in driving growth and value creation within their portfolio companies. This report, therefore, takes a fresh look at the responsibilities of the PE-backed CFO function and the sponsor-finance dynamic across three critical dimensions. It examines how PE-backed CFOs:

  • Measure the Business: Collect clean data to inform insights
  • Manage the Business: Turn clean data into analysis and then into insights to make informed business decisions
  • Scale the Business: Utilize value levers to help the business transform to achieve strong growth and returns in a PE-backed environment


Key Contacts

Nick Leopard
Nick Leopard
CEO & Founder

Nick is the CEO & Founder of Accordion, a private equity-focused financial and technology consulting firm. Since founding Accordion in 2009, Nick has grown the company to serve more than 300 of the world’s premier private equity firms and their portfolio companies – providing services that span the entire CFO function.  Read more

Atul Aggarwal
Atul Aggarwal

Atul became the President of Accordion in 2019. He joined Accordion from Bain & Company, where he was a Partner in the New York office. During his 20-year career at Bain, Atul worked for both corporate and Private Equity clients.   Read more

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