Updated: Sep 1, 2021
In our current landscape (a post-COVID world) we are being bombarded with the term “virtual”. So many aspects of our lives, including our work, education and personal interactions, have gone “virtual”. So the concept of a Virtual CFO is not that surprising, but you may be wondering how the term “virtual” applies to the accounting world and what exactly a Virtual CFO does.
The term Virtual CFO emerged a few years ago and seemed to be a replacement for the then popular phrase “Contract CFO”, which simply means a CFO that you hire on a part-time or project basis. However, with the advent of quarantine, lockdown and the move to a largely remote workforce, the term has evolved to have the connotation of a “remote” CFO in addition to the part-time basis definition.
In today’s current landscape, you don’t have to have a face-to-face visit with your CFO in order to have a fruitful and productive relationship.
In fact, many companies are considering hiring a part-time, remote resource to manage their accounting and financial needs now more than ever given the shift to work-from-home as the norm. They are opening up opportunities to work with contractors and even full-time hires on a remote basis, because they are learning that remote interactions can be just as productive as in-person.
So why hire a Virtual CFO anyways?
There are two primary reasons that you would hire a Virtual CFO to outsource your accounting:
You have a complex, short-term financial project that you can’t handle in-house
You have ongoing needs of high-level financial analysis and guidance but can’t afford to hire someone full-time
If either of those sound like you, keep reading for 25 examples of how to work with a Virtual CFO. This will help you design an ideal job description for your Virtual CFO.
The Short-Term Project
Most businesses outsource a short-term project to a Virtual CFO before they consider bringing them onto the team as an ongoing business partner. This serves two purposes:
The business typically has a short-term (and sometimes urgent) need to outsource a project, so they bring on a subject-matter expert for a defined period of time.
The short-term engagement gives the business a trial run with the Virtual CFO. By the end of the project, they know whether or not they want to work with this individual on a longer-term basis.
The short-term project is a great way to get to know your Virtual CFO and what they are capable of. You will get a great sense for how they work, what style of communication they prefer and the quality of their work product.
Below is a list of 13 short-term projects that a competent Virtual CFO could tackle for your business, depending on their experience and areas of expertise:
Creation of a multi-year financial model and projection
Creation of annual budgets
Creation of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the business
Creation of sales compensation plans
Financial analysis and modeling for fundraising and/or M&A activities
Assisting with annual financial audits
Assisting with due diligence documentation for fundraising and/or M&A activities
Conducting internal revenue, expense and inventory audits
Compliance with accounting methodology changes
Sales tax reviews and compliance
Creation of a valuation model
Clean-up of accounting records and books
Set-up of world-class accounting systems like QuickBooks Online, NetSuite and others
Ongoing Financial Support
Another crucial way a Virtual CFO can help your business is in an ongoing capacity. In this scenario, a Virtual CFO can be a part-time but permanent member of your team to provide high-level financial insights to help you succeed in your business.
An ongoing relationship with a Virtual CFO will be totally custom to where you are in your business and how much support you need.
There is no “one size fits all” approach! It is important to spend the time sharing your current challenges and growth opportunities with your Virtual CFO so they can craft an offering that will be most beneficial to you and your business.
The ongoing capacity of a Virtual CFO can look like a defined number of hours per week or month with specific, recurring deliverables, or it could function like a retainer relationship where support is provided on an as-needed basis. In either option, you are getting the support you need, when you need it.
Below is a list of 12 areas where a Virtual CFO can provide ongoing support to help your business thrive:
Cash flow management and projections
Break-even analysis and projections
Financial statement preparation and analysis of results
Development of annual budgets and goal strategy
Budget vs Actual reporting and variance analysis
Assistance with fundraising and merger/acquisition (M&A) activities
Preparation of financial data for board of directors meetings
Routine reporting on company Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
HR functions like payroll management, benefits administration, policy design and implementation, etc
Routine monitoring of company compliance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP)
Guidance on key business decisions based in company data and trends
Routine monitoring of financial/HR systems and planning for automation
While these lists are by no means exhaustive, they contain a lot of the key elements of a successful Virtual CFO relationship.
If you are considering getting some outside help with your accounting and finance, let’s set up a virtual chat so we can discuss your unique needs for your business. .
Fill out this intake form and let’s get you the support you need!