Does a Part-time CFO Makes Sense?

First let me make a disclaimer, I am a Part-time CFO so I have a business interest in this idea. Regardless, that really has nothing to do with whether it might be right for your business.

Some Initial Acknowledgements

As a Part-time CFO I’ll be the first to acknowledge that employees are necessary for most businesses. In fact, in my role as a Part-time CFO or Controller I rely heavily on a company’s employees, while at the same time helping them to become more effective and efficient. With that said, let’s take a look at why you may be better off with a Part-time CFO.

Mindset

You may be thinking I’m referring to the mindset of the Part-time CFO. While that comes into play, what I’m really thinking about is the mindset of employees. Because employees get caught up in the day-to-day and spend much of their time moving from crisis to crisis, they are left with little time to think about how things can be improved. It is easy to fall into the trap of groupthink. Of course, that is not always the case, but it has been my observation that it happens more than might be thought. Let’s face it, change is hard and maintaining the status quo is often the path of least resistance. However, the cure to the mindset of groupthink is often a mindset of independence. When I act as a Part-time CFO my mindset is really not all that set. What I mean is that exposure to a variety of companies and situations keeps me flexible and away from the old idea of one size fits all when it comes to how to run, grow and improve a business.

Fresh View

You have undoubtedly heard the phrase “maybe we need a fresh set of eyes to take a look.” I’ve stepped into situations as a consultant where it was clear there was blindness to what was really going on. Again, this is not to fault employees, managers, or business owners. It is simply to reiterate the necessity of breaking free of a fixed mindset. When you are there every day that is difficult. Yet, someone who is independent is much less likely to get caught in the trap of “That’s the way we’ve always done it.”

A Different Way of Thinking

Let me share a story from early in my career when I was still an employee. The company had several market (or account) managers who were paid a monthly bonus based on the profitability of their market. The bonus was a percentage of the net profit after the bonus. In other words, the profitability looked like this:

Net Profit = Pre-bonus profit – (Net Profit x Bonus %)

As you can see this means that the net profit was dependent on the bonus and the bonus was dependent on the net profit after bonus. For years the company had made bonus calculations by trial and error. I introduced an algebra formula that could determine the bonus accurately in one calculation. My boss, being so much in the mindset of trial and error, was reluctant to use the formula. That meant I had to prove it over the course of time. I don’t think he ever understood it.

Now here is the interesting thing. If I had been in a consulting role he likely would have more readily accepted the new method for calculating bonuses. That sounds odd, but my experience consulting has demonstrated this to be generally true. Come to think of it, this issue with the response to a new method should have been an early indicator to me that my greatest value tends toward a consulting role. As it turns out, the Part-time CFO role is a better fit for me personally and allows me to provide much greater value to small companies.

Think about it. Are you wasting resources on a full-time CFO or Controller who spends very little of their time on CFO level work? If so, perhaps it might be worth considering a Part-time CFO who can give you greater value and at the same time save you money. For more on the cost savings potential, see Spend Wisely – Go Part-Time.

If you want to know more, contact AimCFO – Contact

As always, your comments are welcomed.

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