How to Hire a Senior Part-Time CFO
If your company is looking to elevate your strategy, solve a problem, overcome a challenge, or prepare for a transaction such as raising capital or preparing for an exit, you may be interested in hiring a senior part-time CFO.
Senior CFOs have experience and knowledge that exceeds the traditional job roles of CPAs, bookkeepers, or controllers. These CFOs have corporate, “big picture” experience that goes beyond fulfilling financial record keeping and into high-level strategy design that accelerates company growth and success.
In most cases, the right senior part-time CFO can provide you with a blueprint for making your company more successful, sustainable, and profitable.
5 Tips for Hiring a Senior Part-Time CFO
Before you jump onto the job boards and classifieds, consider this: a senior part-time CFO is not an employee, but a consultative expert. This usually takes a different method of hiring than a traditional employee.
1 – Understand the Difference Between a Freelance CFO and Part-Time CFO Organization
In most cases, you will save time and money by utilizing a professional part-time CFO organization instead of trying to head hunt a freelance part-time CFO. In most cases, you’ll also have more reliable service. Senior part-time CFO organizations are familiar with hitting the ground running, have highly-vetted CFOs and proven track records, typically have reviews and case studies available to verify their level of service, and have a team of experts that will be working on your case.
Hiring a freelance senior part-time CFOs often makes it more difficult to verify the quality of service and expertise. It’s common for consultants, in order to compete with more reputable CFO groups or consultants, to exaggerate their experience or qualifications. They may also overblow their expertise to attempt to achieve a higher hourly rate than their experience may merit.
Part-time CFO organizations, however, have long-standing reputations that rely on the quality of their CFOs’ expertise. These organizations will typically handpick a robust team of senior expert CFOs with a wide range of project experience so their team can collectively and professionally handle any challenge a client may face. They also typically have a more stable, fair, and predictable rate as opposed to the highly varied and subjective freelance consultant industry.
2 – Write Down Your Goals
Before you schedule a free financial consultation with a senior part-time CFO company, have a general idea of your goals. Do you have a specific problem you’re trying to solve, a goal you’re trying to achieve, or a transaction you are attempting to prepare for? Has your business plateaued and you’re trying to figure out how to get it to the next level? Do you need to optimize your strategy, improve cash flow, minimize waste, and maximize profits? Do you need better record keeping or forecasting to validate your performance to your shareholders or potential investors?Even if you can’t define your exact goal, having a general idea of what you’re hoping to solve or achieve will help your professional CFO organization pair you with the most qualified lead CFO for your account. Usually this CFO will have extensive project experience related to your challenge or opportunity as well as any essential industry experience needed to master your company’s particular nuances.
3 – Prepare to Share System Credentials
In order for your prospective CFO to provide a detailed consultation or action plan, he or she will need access to your existing financial records and services. It can be helpful to speed the proposal process to provide recent financial reports or to give read-only access to your systems to the CFO.
4 – Ask for References
While a senior part-time CFO should be considered an investment—not a cost—the investment is not usually cheap (and if it is, you should be wary of the quality of expertise you’re receiving). You want to feel confident that your CFO has the right experience and knowledge to create significant beneficial impact in your company.
It’s wise to always ask for at least 2-3 references. Look for at least one reference of a company that was experiencing a similar challenge or opportunity, a reference in a similar industry, and a reference who has worked specifically with the CFO proposed for your account. This can help give you a more accurate representation of what to expect than an interview or other preliminary conversations can.
5 – Decide How Important Industry Experience is to You
How important is specific industry experience in selecting the right senior part-time CFO for your company? It depends on your goals. With finance-related challenges or goals such as improving cash flow, increasing margins, organizing books, preparing to raise capital, preparing for a transaction, or forecasting/budgeting, you’ll benefit more from project expertise over industry experience.
This is because while there are variances from industry-to-industry, the process of financial analysis, problem solving, and strategy is one that can be undertaken by a financial expert regardless of industry background. In these cases, financial expertise, an astute eye for detail, and financial problem solving capabilities is more important than industry nuances. However, in more systems- and strategy-related circumstances, industry experience is more valuable.
In systems, strategy, or advisory roles, you may see more benefit from a senior part-time CFO with relevant industry experience or connections. This is because industry knowledge can be helpful in competitive benchmarking, knowing which systems are most effective in your industry, understanding laws and regulations, and having access to valuable networking contacts, etc.
Remember that a senior part-time CFO should be an investment, not a cost. Your CFO should provide you a return on investment, improving your profitability in line with or more than their overall cost. During the proposal process, your CFO should have a plan for optimizations or strategies that will tangibly impact your company. If you’re not able to see a direct path for ROI from your CFO, you may want to keep looking.
Schedule a free financial consultation
Our CFO team has helped hundreds of companies in dozens of industries accelerate growth, improve profitability, raise capital, and prepare for significant transactions or exits. Enter your information below to schedule a free, no-obligation 30-minute consultation so we can discuss how to help take your company to the next level. We will get back to you within 1 business day to discuss your needs.