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Tell Me Why I Need A Part Time CFO

Tell Me Why I Need A Part Time CFO

You are the owner or CEO of a medium size business. You already have an in-house accountant and an external public accountant. Why might you need another finance person?

Here are 8 reasons why a part-time CFO will be beneficial to your business:


CFOs will normally have substantial hands-on commercial business experience (see point 3 below). Accountants are more skilled in their areas of expertise, but typically don’t have that depth of hands-on operational commercial experience. The skill sets are different, but complementary. The three finance professionals, working together as a team, can produce substantial benefits.



You need good information to make good business decisions. For example:

  • FORWARD LOOKING reports, such as cash flows and order/sales forecasts
  • NON FINANCIAL information such as key operational KPIs
  • Customer, territory, sales channel, service and product profitability
  • More frequent high-level timely reporting on key business indicators i.e. the weekly dashboard

CFOs can provide business intelligence reporting, specific to that unique business’s characteristics and challenges. They are generally more experienced at   “management accounting” i.e. providing the right information which management need to run the business. Management accounting is very different from what the tax accountant uses, or what generic software P&L reports provide.



Most CFOs are professionally trained accountants, who then move to commercial roles. Normally it would take at least another 10 years of commercial experience to become a CFO. In these corporate roles, CFOs often partner with the CEO as their right-hand person, thus acquiring extensive commercial and operational experience. They often have project management, IT, risk management, internal controls/processes and administration experience.



 The part-time CFOs:

  • Can focus on finance, admin, and IT thus freeing up the CEO to focus on the business
  • Pass on best practices and techniques learnt in corporates
  • Be a sounding board, mentor and advisor
  • Be a long-term relationship-based partner who takes the time to really know the business



  • You pay for the level of engagement that you need, in contrast to the fixed high costs of a full-time CFO
  • Both retainer and time spent fee structures are available



The CFO Centre has over 750 CFOs. When you engage with a CFO from The CFO Centre, you can effectively tap into this global network which has in excess of 10,000 years of experience and knowledge.



The CFO Centre are the global number 1 provider of part-time CFOs, Hiring a part-time CFO from The CFO Centre will give banks, suppliers and other partners added confidence to deal with the company.



Take advantage of experienced commercial professional, on a flexible structure determined by the client, at a fraction of the cost of a full time CFO.



For SMEs who have grown in size and complexity, but not yet reached a size where a full-time CFO is required, the “part-time”, or  “on-demand” CFO could be the solution.

Written by Gary Campbell. Gary is a CFO with The CFO Centre in Victoria, Australia. He is particularly successful at profit improvement, financial turnarounds, reporting and risk management within manufacturing and distribution sectors. He can be contacted at [email protected], or you can contact us here

What are the 4 Financial Reporting Ratios?

What are the 4 Financial Reporting Ratios?

The importance of business reporting is twofold:

  • To have retrospective visibility over past performance (that is, to analyse performance data and use it as a tool to course correct for the future).
  • To have visibility into the future (knowing what is likely to happen around the corner)


The three key financial statements

At the very least you need to have regular access to three key financial statements. They are:

  1. The Balance Sheet
  2. The Cash Flow Statement
  3. The Profit and Loss Account

Understanding your Numbers

To interpret and understand the numbers contained in your financial statements, you can use financial ratios. The numbers for ratios are taken from the Profit and Loss Account and the Balance Sheet, but not the Cash Flow Statement.

They measure performance in percentage terms rather than raw numbers. This means you can compare your company’s performance with other businesses in your industry, with your previous results and with your projections. They can help you to answer questions such as are your operating expenses too high, is the business carrying excess debt or inventory/stock, and are your customers paying according to terms? Banks and other lenders will want to see your ratios to see how your business performs in comparison with other businesses they’re lending to and with the standards they’ve set for lending.

The four categories of ratios

  1. Liquidity ratios (which reveal your company’s ability to meet its financial obligations including debt, payroll, taxes, payments to vendors/suppliers)
  2. Profitability ratios (which help you evaluate your company’s ability to generate profits)
  3. Leverage ratios (which shows you how – and how extensively—your business is using debt)
  4. Efficiency ratios (which reveal how efficiently your company is managing certain key balance sheet assets and liabilities).

Which financial ratios should you track?

Some ratios will be more applicable to certain industries and businesses than others. If you provide a service rather than sell products, then ratios like return on assets and inventory turnover are unlikely to be relevant to your company whereas the receivables turnover is critical to your business operations. It’s best to choose the five most relevant ratios to your business and track those as part of your monthly management operating plan. It’s crucial to look at your ratios on a monthly basis so that you can spot trends as they develop.


The benefits of having regular access to high-quality financial management reports are far-reaching. Good reports reveal the efficiency (or otherwise) of the constituent parts of the business. They enable you to deal with potential threats and take advantage of opportunities to grow your business. The compound effect of making regular, quick and high-quality decisions based on a strong set of data and reports cannot be overestimated.

Most businesses have some level of reporting in place but in most cases existing procedures are insufficient to allow for rapid growth. The CFO Centre will provide you with a highly experienced senior CFO with ‘big business experience’ for a fraction of the cost of a full-time CFO.

With all that support and expertise at your fingertips, you will achieve better results, faster. It means you’ll have more confidence and clarity when it comes to decision-making. After all, you’ll have access to expert help and advice whenever you need it.

3 Steps to Scaling Your Business Through Reporting

3 Steps to Scaling Your Business Through Reporting

A client recently said to me: “I want to grow our business and stop the cash burn – how do we do this? When is it the right time to invest and grow?”

What a tough question to answer. Each business is at a different stage.

We spent a day examining his business and determining what the growing pains were. He had started the business a few years ago and it grew from scratch.

It was generating a great turnover and growing but they never had any cash.

“Why?” he asked.

After reviewing the business financials it was quite clear that the internal systems were not in place. He could not possibly understand the profitability of the products they were selling due to these inadequate systems.

Therefore they could not take the next step.

The first question I asked was: “Where do you want to take this business – what’s your goal? To build up the business and exit down the line, or are you looking to exit now? Or is this business a keeper if we can generate a great RoI?”

The response was: “We don’t know the numbers or where this business could get too as we have no clarity on the numbers”.

Something I see very commonly here in the SME businesses I work with – no clarity around the financials.

Next Steps

Step one for this particular client was to build a reporting framework around their products to determine what was profitable and what as not. If there were non profitable products (or those that deliver little profitability), should we dump them or only include them bundles in the online offering?

Step two: Build a fully flexible 3-way financial model (P&L, Cash Flow and Balance Sheet) for the next 3 years. Play around with the assumptions, i.e what other products can we put into the offering to customers?

Step three: Monthly reviews against the plan – what worked, what didn’t work and the whys around both.

The right time for a business to grow is when they can balance new customer demand with their internal systems and processes. Moreover, in the instance of this client, increasing recurring revenue streams. Growing faster generally costs more per customer as they need to engage more expensive channels within the business model.

Scalability is about continuing to engage customers with new offerings, and to engage new customers with your offering to the market.

To scale a business one must consider how the business model will affect the bottom line when you expand operations. If you have low capital expenditure and can grow your business with the same revenue / expense % it is much easier to deliver greater numbers in the long term and provide greater options to your customers.

It is early days working with this client but the potential is endless.

4 Signs That My Business Might Need CFO Services

4 Signs That My Business Might Need CFO Services

I have recently been talking to business owners and executives who want to build more resilience into their business. They are considering adding a part-time Chief Financial Officer (CFO) to their team.  During these discussions, two questions usually come up.  “How do I know if my business needs a CFO?” and “what does a CFO do that my Accountant can’t?”.  I would like to share some thoughts on these questions.

The primary responsibility of a CFO is to optimize the financial performance of a company. This includes its reporting and accountability, liquidity, return on investment and long-term value creation.

A CFO has a forward-looking perspective. They look at interactions of the business with outsiders, acting as a diplomat and negotiator with third parties.  Often the strategies put in place by a CFO are not short-term fixes. Some may take months or years to be fully realised.

How do I know when my business needs a CFO?

As to the question of when a business needs a CFO, the following indicators may be helpful.

  1. Internal – When information that helps in making important decisions is not timely or reliable.
  2. External – When improved respect must be gained outside the business. eg from investors, customers, suppliers, labour markets, regulators etc.
  3. Rapid Growth – Growth requires an expansion of systems, and usually additional capital to finance the growth.
  4. Exit – When a business is preparing for a merger, acquisition, or business sale.

So, when the business is at the stage of increased external engagement and growth, a CFO can add significant value.

What does a CFO do that my Accountant can’t?

A CFO always works closely with the external Accountant. Having an accounting background, the CFO is well placed to understand the role of the external Accountant.  The external Accountant’s role is mostly concerned with compliance and transactional advice.  They work from their own offices and will normally attend the client’s business premises periodically.  External Accountants often have the skill sets to provide additional services. However, they are usually not involved closely enough in the running of the business to make this a sensible use of their time.

Functions such as the below will either fall to the CFO or some other suitably qualified resource will need to be allocated:

  • Budgeting and forecasting
  • Cash flow management
  • Financial reporting
  • Scenario planning
  • Internal controls
  • Insurance
  • Bench-marking and key performance indicators
  • Incentive schemes
  • Management of key suppliers
  • Accounting policies

If the business doesn’t have a CFO, the CEO or one of the Directors have to take ownership of these functions.  This means they are taken away from other important leadership and governance roles. They also may not have the depth of experience in the technicalities of financial transactions to handle these things well.

Some of the common misconceptions about a CFO

There are some common misconceptions about a CFO that are worth discussing.

The first misconception is that a CFO may have an excessive focus on short-term financial results ie this year’s profit.  Financial success of the business is undoubtedly the objective of any CFO. This, however, does not mean sacrificing long-term value creation for short-term results.  A CFO is interested in the success of all business stakeholders. This includes owners, employees, customers, suppliers, financiers etc. All stakeholders must be rewarded to ensure the long-term health of the business.

CFOs are therefore, likely to be just as interested in the business strategy as they are in the profit and loss statement. In addition, culture, reputation, governance, and risk management will be on their radar. A good CFO recognises that sustainable financial success is only achieved when all aspects of a business are working well.

Another commonly held misconception is that CFOs think in “black and white”. That therefore, they may not be comfortable with the various shades of grey that business and life deal up.  Whilst that may be true for some aspects of a CFO’s decision-making, good CFOs will look closely at the underlying issue.  For example, CFOs are often involved in analysing the performance of a business or even individuals.  In understanding performance, a CFO will often consider a range of underlying factors. This can include; roles and responsibilities, resources, delegated authorities, remuneration and incentive systems, behavioural assessments, management approach, and organisational structure and culture.  CFOs are first and foremost experienced corporate managers. They understand that people are usually the most critical resource in businesses. From experience, most CFOs are skilled at dealing with people issues sensitively.

If you’d like a confidential discussion about whether a part-time CFO could be right for your business, please contact us.

Allan Robb, CFO at the CFO Centre