Most business owners have a laser focus on tasks that will boost sales, build their teams and reach new customers. As a result, it can be hard to find dedicated time for important financial tasks like balancing the books, reporting or strategy.
In the early days, entrepreneurs might manage finances themselves or use the services of an external bookkeeper. But as the business starts to grow, it may be time to consider more specialised and strategic financial guidance. And that’s when a ‘fractional CFO’ may just be the answer.
Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) provide a variety of financial services, from leading accounting and budgeting efforts to business planning and forecasting. But it may be difficult for growing businesses to justify the cost of an additional C-Suite leader. A fractional – or part-time – CFO can help bridge the gap between the basic financial reporting duties of a bookkeeper and a fully-fledged financial leader. When you’re looking to grow, the experience of a fractional CFO could be invaluable.
In Australia, the demand for fractional CFOs is steadily rising. In fact, outsourced accounting services are expected to increase by around 70 per cent over the next few years.
Here are some considerations when deciding to contract a CFO to manage your business’ financial requirements.
When is a Fractional CFO right for your business?
Maybe you have an in-house bookkeeper or small accounting team but don’t have the need (or budget) to bring another full-time executive on board. But you may be at the stage where you need a future-focused specialist to lead your finance team into the next phase of the business.
Outsourced CFOs can bring a strategic perspective to your company that you may not get otherwise. An experienced CFO will work with you to assess operations, scout opportunities to add value, and formulate a solid financial strategy that supports your business goals.
Bringing in a flexible C-suite member can allow your business to keep up with the current hybrid culture and competitive employment market. Remote work has never been more accepted in business culture.
In fact, 61 per cent of Australians believe a hybrid work setup is the most productive. Pair this with the need for a strong finance leader to guide your business through its next evolution, it may be time to consider a fractional CFO.
Setting up for success
Once you have decided a fractional CFO is right for your business, it’s important to set them up for success. Creating guidelines for a part-time resource helps keep the working relationship on track.
Since businesses with a ‘clearly articulated and understood’ vision perform better in the long run, it’s important to ensure your new CFO is on board with your vision. Clearly defining the rules of engagement and key success criteria early on gives you a set of benchmarks to continually evaluate how the relationship is playing out.
Everything should ladder back up to the purpose and be measurable, so the CFO can assess their impact and how their actions are impacting the business’ goals.
Technology has revolutionised financial operations over the years. CFOs don’t just balance books – they also lead strategy, improve business resilience, and manage ever-tightening budgets, all while ensuring the business remains competitive. Also, due to the ever-evolving nature of the role, they’re typically up to date on the latest software, tools, accounting rules and trends in the space.
With the right tools and processes, the fractional CFO can steer your business through challenges and become the financial leader it needs.
When used strategically, automation can help your business run more efficiently with fewer overheads. It’s estimated that only about one-third of finance tasks have been automated, although about 80 per cent should be.
It’s more advantageous for finance leaders to use their brainpower to tackle complex strategic challenges, rather than wading in invoices and receipts. Your financial software should be able to create reports instantly or automatically create sales invoices when a purchase order is received. Put simply, routine tasks that can be automated should be and the right fractional CFO will know how to do this best.
The bottom line is a well experienced CFO could be a valuable asset to your growing business. With your financial operations in the hands of a finance leader, you can devote your time to meeting your goals.