The first thing that has to be determined by any company looking to engage a part-time CFO is exactly what a CFO is and should be expected to do.
In recent years, the finance department has been playing more of a relevant role in companies and this should be the case regardless of the size of the organization. CEOs are generally looking to finance leaders to play a larger role in corporate governance and help develop stronger business strategies. The simple reporting of financial performance at regular intervals is not enough, particularly if that reporting does not come with recommendations respecting how to get more out of good performance or how to improve poor performance. A CFO needs to make decisions and recommendations, and create or amend company action plans that are based on the company’s goals and ambitions. In addition, as the keeper of all the company data with respect to these goals and ambitions CFOs must also participate fully and play an active role in defining, creating and refining business strategies.
The Business Leader
The CFO must do more than look after the finance requirements of any company, and must be the right hand of the CEO or company owner. This means that a CFO must be a business leader providing the focus for achieving the company goals. A CFO’s knowledge comes from years of experience, and works hand in hand with a finely-tuned business acumen. A CFO is capable of understanding all of the numbers behind sound business decisions and must be able to communicate in a way that is understood clearly. In addition to having a good overview of the traditional accounting and reporting processes, a CFO also needs to be able to demonstrate a thorough understanding of what makes a company go. Versatility is the hallmark of today’s CFO there must be an ability to find ways of motivating employees that will help strengthen the finance operation in the business.
The Resident Advisor
The biggest change in terms of the CFO role in business today is that the advice they give should be valued but more basic than that, it is absolutely necessary.
Small business operators and entrepreneurs have a lot of responsibility and they do many things very well that help their companies immeasurably. However, these same operators and entrepreneurs oftentimes do not have the expertise when it comes to the financial side of the business, or the time necessary to handle that element. That is the role the CFO plays. Businesses are often dealing with a large number of competitors, ever-changing customer expectations, constant manpower shortages and volatile financial conditions. Wisdom and experience makes a CFO indispensable to companies…particularly small companies…as they deal with all of these influences.
A part-time CFO is often the answer for a smaller company. It meets the management and advisory needs and gives the company the robust and well thought-out plans necessary to help it tackle its challenges.