Advancing Success

Business advocacy group offers multitude of benefits for members

As one of the oldest and most prestigious advocacy organizations in the world, Financial Executives International (FEI) is making its mark in Arizona. In 2018, the Arizona chapter—with 249 members in almost every industry—swept the awards at the FEI Leadership Summit in Houston, including top honors in Membership Growth; Innovation; and Most Outstanding Chapter. Then-chapter president, James Walbom, was awarded the Chapter President of the Year.

Current president, Rachael Piergallini, and incoming president, Adam Remis, who takes the helm in June, are proud of the strides the chapter has made.

“The Arizona chapter has moved up from a mid-level-size chapter to a large chapter in the past few years,” Piergallini says, with Remis adding that the chapter has become known for engaged members and sponsors, and memorable programming.

“Membership is great from a networking perspective,” he says. “Being part of FEI helps me solve the problems my CEO brings to me.” Remis is chief financial officer of Ace Home Services, an HVAC and plumbing company in Phoenix. In 2017, he was awarded the Chief Financial Officer of the Year award from the FEI – Arizona Chapter in the public company category.

“We have a very rich mix of members and sponsors,” says Piergallini, vice president of finance for Derma Health Institute, a med spa in Phoenix with five locations. “Our engaged, amazing professionals appreciate the sponsors that add so much value to our organization.”

Sponsors, which number about 25 for the Arizona chapter, come from a variety of industries, such as accounting, insurance, banking and commercial real estate. They support the organization at various levels, including silver, gold, platinum and academic, Piergallini explains. The CPA firms that are academic sponsors contribute $15,000 each year to fund 10 scholarships for finance students in both undergraduate and graduate programs at Arizona State University, University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University, and Grand Canyon University.

“The judges are looking for students majoring in finance or accounting with a proven track record of success with grades and internships,” Remis says. “They’re looking for future leaders of FEI.”

FEI’s Arizona chapter meets monthly September through May, and engages local speakers for the professional growth and education of its members. This includes the academic realm, as well as experts in the economy and nonprofit organizations, to highlight other organizations’ challenges and successes.

Every year, the chapter holds a CFO of the Year award event where three to five local chief financial officers are honored for their accomplishments. The chapter also holds a Controller of the Year event that honors controllers who excel in their field, Remis says.

Members of the chapter are greatly valued and appreciated.

“Our board is amazing,” says Piergallini. “Between 12 and 14 people comprise the board, and they are extremely active and dedicated to the success of the international organization and our chapter.”

Committees focus on securing sponsorships, initiating programming and putting together awards programs, she says, among many other activities. “These individuals volunteer up to 30 hours of their time every month to keep the chapter going,” she adds. “They give to the organization with heart and passion.”

Financial Executives International as a global organization was founded in December 1931 in New York City, originally as the Controllers Institute of America. In 1962, to reflect an expansion into policy-making among finance executives, the organization was renamed Financial Executives Institute.

In 2000, membership was opened to finance leaders across the globe and the organization was rebranded as Financial Executives International. Today, FEI’s total membership is more than 10,250. There are 65 chapters in the U.S. and 11 chapters in Canada.

According to the organization’s leaders, FEI’s mission is to advance the success of senior-level financial executives, their organizations and the profession. For 87 years, FEI has been connecting members through interaction (providing local and international forums for connecting with peers), information (providing insight to assist with informed business decisions), influence (representing members’ interests in legislative and policymaking arenas), and integrity (providing the tools to advance the profession through ethical leadership).

In 2019 and 2020, Remis hopes the Arizona chapter will maintain and expand its membership and build on its programming.

“We continue to serve our members in unique ways,” he says. “And in the years to come, we hope to create a unique brand for the Arizona chapter and promote awareness of that brand in the community.”


Story: Debra Gelbart

Photos: Mark Lipczynski

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