What is a Fractional CFO

1 February 2024

As the name suggests, a fractional CFO is someone who lends their financial expertise to a startup on a contractual basis. Fractional or part-time CFOs have extensive previous CFO-level experience, but generally help tide startups over on a temporary basis.

In most cases, fractional CFOs are involved with more companies. This is unlike full-time CFOs, who remain employees of the firm with all the associated benefits and responsibilities.

What does a fractional CFO do for growing businesses?

A fractional CFO handles a range of functions for a companies, including:

  1. Finance

This is the CFO’s bread-and-butter role. As startups expand, their financial processes become too complex for the founders to manage with the help of an accountant alone. They need someone capable of seeing the bigger picture through the nuts and bolts of financial reporting and accounting.

This is where a fractional CFO can step in and clear a path through the web of numbers and statistics.

  1. Optimize strategy

Businesses run on money, which means that CFOs, as the financial gatekeepers, are essential to strategy formulation and optimization. A fractional CFO can weigh in on the financial side of strategy by bringing in a perspective based on the numbers.

In other words, your fractional CFO can test your strategy and tell you if it’s financially viable. And if not, what can be done to optimize it.

  1. Implement systems

As startups scale up, they need to put better systems in place to meet their changing requirements. This necessitates the supervision and guidance of someone who has implemented multiple systems in different scenarios.

Someone who’s seen it all can predict the things that can go wrong and correct them before they do.

A fractional CFO can field his or her experience to ensure that the implementation of new systems is smooth and glitch-free and is done without any disruption to your existing workflow.

  1. Raise capital

Business expansion requires the infusion of new capital. From valuing the company, to speaking with potential investors, to taking care of the post-deal paperwork and due diligence, a fractional CFO becomes indispensable to the process of raising capital.

  1. Navigate an audit or transaction

As businesses grow, internal audits become necessary to get a measure of the company’s financial health. In many cases, audits may also be mandatory by law. An audit may involve a microscopic inspection of not just a company’s cash flow but also procurement and purchasing systems, taxation, and every transaction involving the exchange of money.

Due to the complex and very minute nature of audits, founders – especially first-time entrepreneurs – may not have the experience to navigate their firm through it.

Having a fractional CFO on board means the founders can delegate all responsibilities related to the audit to someone who is experienced in the domain.

 

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