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Nick Araco (Founder of The CFO Alliance)

Nick Araco

Founder of The CFO Alliance

Host and Facilitator:
Nick serves as 'a voice for the Middle Market,'​ representing the more than 10,000 Finance Leaders of The CFO Alliance Peer Advisory Networks that empowers Modern Finance Leaders to make complex decisions on People, Strategy, Technology & Risk.

Ben Lehrer (CEO of First Water Finance)

Ben Lehrer

CEO of First Water Finance

Ben is obsessed with the finance function, serving those within it, and enabling those who rely upon it. He believes finance is and always will be people-driven, the purpose of data is dialogue, and successful transactions are a function of compelling storytelling and team credibility (much more so than a multiple of EBITDA). Referred to by colleagues as “The Mutt,” Ben’s background spans financial planning and analysis (FP&A), private equity investing, investment banking, commercial lending, C-suite and board advisory, small and midsize business (SMB) management, and, most recently, finance community development and learning programs.

He leads the team at First Water Finance (FWF), the Finance Advancement Platform, which offers finance leaders, business owners, and capital partners access to a holistic finance ecosystem across FP&A, Corporate Finance, and Community. Whether it is tapping expertise for FP&A BPO or project implementation, executing on transaction initiatives, joining a peer group community, finding/filling your next finance role, or connecting with vetted capital or service providers, FWF is the place for your finance dialogue to make the connections that propel business and professional advancement.

FWF is integrated with The CFO Alliance (CFOA), a premier nationwide peer group community serving finance leaders. Since inception, CFOA has served almost 10,000 finance leaders, delivering impactful peer events, original content, peer benchmarking, and talent acquisition services for the Office of the CFO. Ben serves as the Head of Learning & Development for the community, responsible for content, programming, and peer group and development programs.

Ben is deeply committed to finance education, particularly in the small to midsize business (SMB) space. Having worked alongside ~100 management teams, capital providers, and partners, Ben understands the structural gaps within SMBs related to finance experience and engaging with institutional capital. As catalysts to close those gaps, Ben authored the book Relational Finance ( and created the free Finance Readiness (FiRe) Score assessment tool ( If it has anything to do with finance professionals, processes and technology, or capital and transactions, Ben and FWF will help you advance. Learn more at