History of The CFO Centre

Colin Mills’ Journey from CFO to The FD Centre and finally The CFO Centre

In 2001 I walked out on my multinational corporate career in search of the entrepreneurial dream. In that moment, I took my first step towards setting up The FD Centre (now called The CFO Centre).

I’d spent years in a procession of different CFO roles, often waking up in identikit conference hotels uncertain of which city I was in. I was working so hard to support my family – and yet I hardly ever got to see them.

It finally came to a head one day when my youngest son played his first school football match. They won 2-0. Joseph scored both goals. And where was I? Overseas, at another one of those ‘important’ corporate meetings that my boss needed me to attend.

That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I knew I’d had enough – it was time for a change.

Was I crazy to leave a well-paid corporate job with a family of four kids to support? It certainly felt like it at times. But with my wife Julie now the sole breadwinner, I decided to break new ground as a part-time CFO.

Julie and Colin Mills, founder of The CFO Centre, celebrating the company's 21st birthday.

I’d been a successful CFO for a variety of large and mid-tier businesses so I had a strong financial skill-set… but I also had the entrepreneurial bug.

For a few months before leaving, I’d been hatching a business idea of my own. It involved bringing the skills and experience of senior CFOs to small and medium sized businesses.

I knew that for most entrepreneurs, one of the strongest incentives to start a successful business is the search for freedom – freedom to be able to indulge their creative talents, freedom to win back control over their lives and freedom to get to choose how they spend their time.

I also knew from experience that poor financial foundations, lack of control over one’s business, or simply running out of cash were all sure-fire ways to turn the entrepreneurial dream into an horrendous nightmare.

So my vision was to find CFOs like me, skilled people who had ‘been there and done it’ with large and mid-tier businesses, who could support entrepreneurs to avoid the lurking perils of poor financial management.

Every entrepreneurial plan needs a shake of secret sauce to give it the edge to succeed. In my case the special tweak was that I would develop a model enabling highly talented CFOs to work with ambitious business owners on a part-time basis.

Suddenly, hard-working small and medium sized businesses could afford the skills of a high-caliber CFO without having to employ someone full-time.

The CFO would use their highly tuned skill-set to help the business owner to build a financial platform to act as a launchpad for growth and realise their full potential. It would enable the entrepreneur to escape the mundane day-to-day operations and concentrate their attentions on doing the work they love.

That, quite simply, is how The CFO Centre was born.

Spool forward twenty years and we now have more than 750 CFOs who come from the top one percent of global talent in the field – the real cream of the crop. They’re helping entrepreneurs across five continents to scale rapidly, increase cash, profit and valuation and, crucially, live the life they choose – and that’s why we call them our Dream Team.

Since we started, we’ve helped more than 10,000 businesses scale and over 4,000 to successfully exit. We’ve also raised more than $10bn in funding.

When you hire one of our team, you get a great deal more than the skills and experience of that individual – you unlock the resources of our entire global CFO Dream Team. There are precious few business challenges that we have not already overcome between us. Need specialist skills to launch a business in the US or China? We’ve done it.

Preparing an exit plan for a tech business in Singapore or a manufacturing business in the UK? We’ve been there, many times over. Whatever challenges face you, we can draw on experience to help you realise the most ambitious of visions.

We are hugely proud of the culture we have built. Our over-riding passion is to help entrepreneurs get what they really want – not just the ‘business numbers’ but the ‘numbers that really matter’ to you as an individual. Maybe that’s the number of days you get to spend with your family each year, the number of weeks you get to go on holiday knowing your finances are in safe hands, or the age at which you can enjoy the early retirement that you’ve worked so hard to achieve.

Whatever your ambitions, we’ve got your back. We’re here to help you build the plan that turns ambition into reality.

Founder and Executive Chairman

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