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Think Your Firm Is Too Small to Afford a CFO? Think Again!

Most larger firms – 80 staff members or more – have a CFO on staff and enjoy the benefits of their executive presence, technical knowledge and business acumen.  But what about smaller firms?  While a great CFO is worth their weight in gold, small firms typically cannot afford the $150,000+ salary, even though they would profit tremendously by having that skill set on their team.  The solution: the fractional CFO.

What Does a CFO Do, Exactly?

Ask a CFO what they do, and you are likely in for a long conversation.  In a nutshell, the CFO oversees the financial health of the company. Within this framework, there is a myriad of tasks and responsibilities, especially in a small firm where they might have a hand in areas like IT, HR and project operations, to name a few.  Besides the traditional activity of producing accurate and timely financial information, a CFO will:

  • Develop cost-saving measures to control overhead
  • Create 1, 3 and 5-year business plans
  • Establish key performance metrics and dashboards
  • Protect your business with internal controls
  • Manage cash flow
  • Provide a different perspective
  • Drive business improvement
  • Conceive and implement strategic plans
  • Facilitate succession planning
  • Manage risk
  • Provide economic forecasting
  • Coach and mentor the accounting staff
  • Establish plans, policies and procedures that help your firm grow

How Can Your Firm Benefit from a Fractional CFO?

If you already have a full-time CFO on staff, consider yourself fortunate.  For firms that can’t afford, or just don’t have the need to hire someone full-time, hiring a fractional CFO is a flexible, cost-effective solution.   A fractional CFO is a part-time contractor you hire to provide CFO services when and to the degree that you need them.  You are essentially paying them an hourly fee on an as-needed basis for a scope of services that you mutually agree upon.  The scope might be a block of time per week or month, a specific project, or duration of time.  This is a great way to get the expertise you need and control the cost of that service. And the peace of mind in knowing that the financial health of your firm is in expert hands will help you sleep better at night!

How to Get Started

Here are a few suggestions to get you started on utilizing the services of a fractional CFO.

  • Develop a written scorecard for that function. Be intentional and clear about the outcomes you want the CFO to deliver and how you will measure their success.
  • Determine your budget for that function based on the intended benefits/return.
  • Interview more than one potential candidate to make sure they have specific design industry experience and that there is a cultural fit. This person will become part of your team, so make sure you will be able to work with them.
  • Get buy-in from your team that the success of the CFO is critical to the success of the company.

Having a CFO on your team is an integral component to the profitability, longevity and stability of your firm.  The question is not whether you can afford one but whether you can afford not to have one on your team.  If you would like to know more about how a fractional CFO can benefit your organization and how we can help you, please give us a call.

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