What Is a Fractional CFO? 4 Key Benefits of Hiring One

What Is a Fractional CFO? 4 Key Benefits of Hiring One

Discover the services a fractional CFO offers, when you should hire one, and the benefits of doing so. Find out how to hire top fractional talent through Go Fractional.

A fractional CFO (chief financial officer) offers businesses an innovative way to harness their strategic financial expertise, at a fraction of the cost of a full-time CFO.

These professionals can help you make informed financial forecasts,raise capital, provide accounting services, and more – all without breaking the bank.

The result? Robust financial management and a strengthened foundation for sustainable business growth.

Get ready to delve into their professional services, when you should hire a fractional CFO, the benefits they bring to your company, and more.

Further Reading:
Want to optimize your business operations in a cost-effective way? Consider hiring a Fractional COO.

Find out how a Fractional CMO can help you boost your business growth by transforming your marketing leadership.

What Is a Fractional CFO?

A fractional CFO is a type of outsourced CFO who offers their financial services on a contractual, part-time basis. These experts typically work with multiple clients and dedicate around 20–40 hours monthly to a company.

Their primary strategic purpose is to align a company's financial direction with its long-term goals. Using their vast experience and network, they can establish robust financial processes, assess alternative avenues for financial modeling, and highlight opportunities for expansion.

Fractional CFOs come with a broad and diverse experience, astute decision-making skills, and a wide financial network.

The best part?

You’ll get all these perks at a fraction of the cost of a full-time hire.

Let’s compare.

Fractional CFO vs. Full-Time CFO vs. Interim CFO

While all three of these roles provide financial leadership, their duration, depth of engagement, and purpose can vary.

Here’s how:

  • Full-time CFO: A regular C-suite member, they come with the expected salary, benefits, and bonuses. They're ideal for companies needing continuous oversight and dedicated financial strategy. Companies usually hire a full-time fractional CFO when they’re in the $10-50 million revenue range, due to increasing financial complexity. They may also be onboarded in later-stage funding rounds as per investor terms.
  • Interim CFO: Serving as a bridge, they temporarily fill the void when a full-time chief financial officer departs, until a permanent one steps in. Their role is typically full-time but short-lived, addressing pressing needs during transitions.
  • Fractional CFO: While they can emulate a full-time CFO's responsibilities, a fractional CFO can also tackle specific financial tasks at a reduced cost. They offer greater flexibility and can also step into interim roles when needed. They are typically engaged for longer durations than interim CFOs.

Note: A fractional, full-time, or interim CFO can also serve as a virtual CFO, delivering expertise remotely.

Hire the best fractional chief financial officer with Go Fractional.

Not sure if your organization requires fractional CFO services?

Let’s explore.

When Should You Hire a Fractional CFO?

You should consider leveraging fractional CFO services if:

  • You need someone in a financial leadership position but don’t have the budget for a full-time role or prefer to collaborate with someone temporarily.
  • You need a financial expert to establish financial frameworks for monthly, quarterly, and annual reporting.
  • Your board of directors needs support, for example, with evaluating strategic initiatives and investments while avoiding conflicts of interest.
  • You want expert help with a specific project or initiative, for example, navigating private equity deals or cash flow management.
  • You are entering a new market or pursuing vertical integration and need to evaluate the financial impact of the expansion.
  • You are expanding internationally and must navigate the complexities of inter-country accounting, taxation, and compliance requirements.
  • You are onboarding fresh equity partners and need a financial expert to evaluate, negotiate, and manage the process.
  • You are raising equity capital and need a financial expert to design and present financial projections to investors, ensuring the terms are favorable.
  • You are overseeing post-investment cash management (after securing private equity) and need an expert to allocate funds strategically, monitor cash flow, and ensure returns on investment.
  • Your startup is contemplating an IPO within the next 12-18 months.
  • You are experiencing rapid growth, and financial planning and analysis have become more complex and time-consuming for you and your internal team to manage.
  • There is a transition or state of flux where a team is no longer in place to handle the financial operations, but financial stability and visibility are required.

So, what fractional CFO services will you get?

What Critical Services Do Fractional CFOs Offer?

A fractional CFO offers a spectrum of services, spanning from developing financial strategies and optimizing costs to navigating audits. They would also be in charge of controllership, overseeing the accounting operations of a company, ensuring accurate financial reporting, and compliance with regulations.

These are the 13 essential outsourced CFO services you can expect:

1. Optimize Financial Processes

As companies expand, their financial processes may become too complex for the founders to manage with the help of an accountant alone.

Fortunately, a fractional CFO can oversee, standardize, and refine your financial processes. This way, you can confidently address other critical aspects of your enterprise or small business without neglecting financial priorities.

For example, they may implement a new approval workflow for expenditure requests to ensure better control over spending. Or, they might implement a better system for managing employees’ travel expense reimbursements.

Streamlining financial processes ensures consistency, and enhances the overall efficiency of your financial department.

Jesse Graff profile image
Jesse Graff
  1. Fractional CFO
  2. FP&A
  3. Investor Relations
A seasoned Fractional CFO, adept in FP&A and strategic finance, with a strong acumen in investor relations and accounting.

2. Create Budgets and Financial Forecasts

Your bookkeeper, accountant, or controller may only oversee historical financial data. On the other hand, a fractional CFO specializes in budget planning and financial forecasting as well.

  • Budgeting: They will craft a well-informed budget that outlines your financial goals and formulates a detailed action plan. This plan includes allocating resources effectively, estimating revenue streams, and setting clear financial milestones.
  • Forecasting: They will use their market knowledge and your company’s historical performance data to predict future financial results using specialized software and data analytics. They’ll also use this financial information to set goals, track performance, and adjust strategies as needed.

A financial forecast and budget can help your stakeholders make informed decisions. They also act as performance benchmarks for investors.

Cheryl Heller profile image
Cheryl Heller
  1. Fractional CFO
  2. Analysis
  3. Forecasting
  4. P&L management
Fractional CFO specializing in P&L management and financial forecasting for organizations.

3. Financial Reporting

Beyond time constraints, business owners require precise financial insight to make informed decisions.

Fortunately, financial reporting is one of the core fractional CFO services.

Fractional CFOs track financial and operational KPIs (key performance indicators) to draw up comprehensive financial reports, painting a clear picture of your company's financial health. They would present the data on intuitive dashboards, allowing top management to view key financial insights for daily operations as well as monthly and quarterly trends.

As part of their controllership role, they would ensure the accuracy and compliance of every financial statement, safeguarding the business from potential discrepancies and regulatory pitfalls.

Beyond just crunching numbers, a fractional CFO can also see the bigger picture to quickly identify areas of the business that need immediate attention, enabling you to remedy the situation quickly.

For instance, if an e-commerce company faces a surge in operating expenses, a fractional CFO may pinpoint the cause to be high return rates of a newly launched product due to a manufacturing defect. This lets you rectify the issue promptly, averting a potential PR crisis and significant financial loss.

In essence, a fractional CFO plays a crucial role in transforming raw financial data into strategic business intelligence. Plus, it will influence future decision-making and strategies.

Jeffrey Mazza profile image
Jeffrey Mazza
  1. Fractional CFO
  2. Budgeting
  3. Fraud Risk Assessment
Fractional CFO specializing in FP&A, partnerships, leadership, and startup infrastructure.

4. Enhance Tax Strategy and Compliance

Tax regulations are not only intricate but also constantly shifting, presenting a financial challenge even for seasoned in-house teams to stay abreast. Often, misconceptions about tax credits in the US lead to qualifying companies missing a significant opportunity to improve their bottom line.

By understanding tax opportunities and collaborating with Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), a fractional CFO can implement the right strategies and identify often-overlooked tax benefits.

For instance, a manufacturing firm expanding overseas might neglect specific international tax treaties. Similarly, a tech startup could be unaware of the latest updates to the Research & Development (R&D) tax credits in the US.

With a fractional CFO's strategic financial guidance, companies can leverage potential tax benefits, ensuring compliance and cost-efficiency.

6. Strategic Planning

A fractional CFO's strategic financial planning is crucial for aligning financial and business goals. Without it, your business could be overlooking valuable opportunities, using resources inefficiently, and heading in the wrong financial direction.

They will use financial data to set goals and create the blueprint to achieve them. With the company’s vision in mind, they’ll assess its financial position, and identify opportunities and threats in the market. They would collaborate with other senior executives to drive cohesive decision-making.

For instance, a fractional CFO may detect that the root cause for declining sales is lower investments in the marketing function in comparison with benchmark companies. They would then work with your marketing and sales teams to allocate higher budgets.

Or, if a cybersecurity tech startup in San Francisco wants to expand into Europe, a fractional CFO may leverage their industry knowledge and analyze the costs and returns of the financial strategy.

The result?

They may suggest prioritizing the Asia Pacific market, projected to surge to a market size of USD 84.57 billion by 2028. This way, the startup can tap into the booming Asia Pacific market while sidestepping Europe's regulatory challenges.

Patrick Leong profile image
Patrick Leong
  1. Fractional CFO
  2. Monthly Financial Reporting
  3. Budgeting
  4. Process Improvement
Fractional CFO driving 42%-48% bottom-line growth through operational efficiency and strategic financial planning.

7. Treasury Management

Without proper treasury management, a company can face liquidity crises, be exposed to financial risks, and miss out on profitable investment opportunities.

The role of a fractional CFO is pivotal here.

A fractional CFO can provide invaluable insights into your liquidity profile and manage cash flow while positioning your company for future growth.

By building strong relationships with financial institutions, they can secure favorable financing terms. For instance, they might negotiate short-term loans with banks, allowing your company to capitalize on a sudden market opportunity without draining cash reserves.

They will also optimize your firm's capital structure, ensuring you're strategically leveraging debts and investments to maintain financial flexibility.

Moreover, through effective financial analysis, a fractional CFO will coordinate with your leadership team to pinpoint areas in each vertical of the company that could benefit from optimization. This could involve trimming redundant or unused services, switching to yearly billing to capitalize on long-term savings, or taking advantage of available credits and discounts.

Owing to this fractional CFO service, your business’ liquidity will improve resulting in a financially stable and agile organization, poised for growth and shielded from volatile market conditions.

As part of treasury management, a fractional CFO would also help to:

8. Raise Capital & Build a Fundraising Strategy

Securing funding is pivotal for startups eyeing sustainable growth.

Fortunately, business owners can navigate the intricacies of the fundraising landscape effectively with a seasoned CFO by their side. Their financial expertise goes beyond mere navigation — they can also help you align your capital-raising strategies with company objectives.

Besides, seed and early-stage funding have been declining year over year in Q2 and Q3 of 2023.

In such a challenging funding environment, a fractional CFO can:

  • Evaluate a range of potential venture capital sources
  • Leverage financial forecast data to instill confidence in potential investors
  • Establish and nurture relationships with potential investors
  • Craft compelling investor pitches and presentations
  • Establishing a data room for investors or acquirers
  • Assisting in financial diligence questions that arise
  • Creating and pre-answering questions from prospective capital partners

Together, these actions will increase your odds of securing crucial venture capital in a challenging environment.

Dario Salas Machado profile image
Dario Salas Machado
  1. Fractional CFO
  2. Fundraising
  3. Financial Modeling
  4. Forecasting
Operations and finance professional specializing in guiding early-stage companies from pre-seed to Series B.

9. Vendor Negotiation and Contract Optimization

Navigating vendor relationships demands more than just basic negotiation skills. It requires a deep understanding of industry benchmarks, prevailing market rates, and strategic foresight.

By revisiting contracts and aiming to reduce costs, often targeting a reduction of up to 20%, a fractional CFO can drive immediate cash savings.

For instance, upon assessing a company's annual software licensing agreement, a fractional CFO may renegotiate terms with the vendor, consolidating multiple licenses and eliminating redundant features, leading to huge savings in annual software costs.

Over time, such strategic renegotiations compound, positioning the business for sustainable growth and competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Evan Goldfine profile image
Evan Goldfine
  1. Fractional CFO
  2. Real Estate
  3. Vendor Negotation
Fractional CFO and real estate investor with 20 years of experience in operational leadership. Founder of Routine Properties.

10. Implement and Scale New Systems

Picture this: You’re transitioning to a new financial software to streamline your invoicing. However, your accounts department is apprehensive, fearing the shift might interrupt their daily financial tasks and delay month-end reconciliations.

In such situations, an outsourced CFO will collaborate with your accounts team, ensuring a smooth rollout. This involves hands-on training sessions, tweaking the software to automate your particular invoice workflows, and running pilot tests to preemptively catch and fix any glitches before they affect your financial operations.

Once the system is implemented, the cost reductions achieved through invoicing automation can be redirected towards company expansion, talent acquisition, and R&D initiatives.

Ken Wong profile image
Ken Wong
  1. Fractional CFO
  2. Accounting
  3. Fund Raising
  4. Compliance
Experienced IT and financial professional with 18 years in finance, 15 years in information technology

11. Guide Mergers and Acquisitions

When venturing into mergers or acquisitions without expert financial guidance, companies can risk overpaying, miss potential liabilities, or fail to realize the projected synergies.

A fractional CFO brings invaluable depth to such complex processes. They don't just oversee finances but delve deep, ensuring every facet is scrutinized for decision-making.

Here’s how:

  • Mergers: Imagine two software companies merging to leverage each other's strengths. A fractional CFO could identify redundancies in software licenses, ensuring that the merged entity doesn't double-pay for similar services, optimizing operational costs and boosting profitability post-merger.
  • Acquisitions: If your company wants to acquire a startup, a fractional CFO's thorough analysis might reveal unresolved financial litigations. This revelation could prompt a reassessment of the acquisition's viability or even a decision to abandon the deal, potentially saving your company millions.
  • Experience with Corporate Development: A fractional CFO and finance leader should have specific experience with leading and conversing with corporate development teams. These teams can be notorious for taking up a lot of valuable founder time, spinning cycles, and mining information. Having a guiding hand that can help navigate these conversations can be instrumental in time and partnership management.
  • Data Room Management: A fractional CFO, with their comprehensive understanding of what potential investors or buyers seek, can meticulously organize and manage data rooms (repositories for due diligence information). By ensuring that all pertinent financial and operational data is presented clearly and securely, they facilitate smoother and more transparent transactions.

12. Adhere to New Regulations

You need to proactively update your financial processes and policies to comply with changing regulatory requirements. Otherwise, your company faces the risk of financial restatements, penalties, and damage to reputation.

Thankfully, a fractional CFO will be equipped to navigate these complexities and ensure compliance.

Suppose the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) releases a new standard that requires all leases longer than 12 months to be reflected on a company's balance sheet. A fractional CFO may assess the impact of this new standard, adjust lease reporting, communicate changes to stakeholders, and establish processes for ongoing compliance and monitoring.

Consider another situation:

The International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) introduces new revenue recognition criteria affecting your industry. Here, the fractional CFO would analyze revenue streams and ensure they align with the new criteria.

Stephen Dreskin profile image
Stephen Dreskin
  1. Fractional CFO
  2. Treasury Management
  3. Fundraising
  4. Accounting
A financial professional with specialized expertise in AI, AI Platforms, SaaS, Fintech, and other emerging technology startups.

13. Mentoring and Training

Many companies are turning to fractional CFOs to mentor their internal finance and accounting teams, especially in smaller organizations where in-house expertise may be limited.

Here's how this mentorship may work:

  • Direct Strategic Guidance: VP finance teams and ambitious members eyeing the CFO level benefit from direct interactions, gleaning insights from a seasoned finance professional.
  • Expert Responses: Financial queries from the broader executive team are addressed with grounded, real-world experience.
  • Elevated Standards: Aligning with practices from mature enterprises, a fractional CFO brings the discipline and standards of a later-stage company. This imparts an institutional strength to the team, proving invaluable for growth and sustainability.
  • Specialized Training for Advancement: A fractional CFO can offer specialized training to help a controller evolve into a CFO. Through in-depth workshops and sharing of best practices, they instill strategic thinking and equip the controller for the expanded challenges and responsibilities of the CFO position.

The benefit?

Your organization can take advantage of your in-house talent and avoid hefty external hiring and onboarding costs.

There you have it — a comprehensive range of professional services that a fractional CFO offers.

But what advantages can your growing business gain from a fractional CFO service?

We’ll find out next.

4 Pivotal Benefits of Hiring a Fractional CFO

From cost-effectiveness and specialized expertise to flexibility in managing your company's financial health, fractional CFOs offer you many benefits.

1. Cost-Effectiveness

Startups and bigger enterprises can tap into the financial leadership of fractional CFOs without incurring the costs of a full-time hire.

For example, some of the world’s best former and current CFOs earn between $15–60 million a year, including bonuses, benefits, and stock options.

On the other hand, you will need to pay fractional CFOs only between $34,500–$273,500 annually.

This substantial cost savings empowers you to allocate resources to bolster other key business initiatives and supercharge growth.

2. Diverse Expertise

Fractional CFOs typically work with companies across various industries.

This lets you tap into the wealth of experience and knowledge of best practices that they’ve tested across industries, potentially giving you a competitive edge.

Suppose you have a tech startup that wants to streamline its budgeting process, but the internal team lacks the expertise to do so. An experienced CFO with a background in working with tech startups can help implement agile budgeting methodologies like rolling forecasts and flexible budgeting, aligning financial planning with your startup's dynamic needs.

This facilitates a seamless allocation of resources to priority projects and enables quick financial decision-making in response to market shifts.

Or, if your company is planning an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) or looking to integrate a token-based rewards system, a fractional chief financial officer experienced in tokenomics can be pivotal. They can advise on optimal token distribution, pricing strategies, and how to structure the token to align with the company's long-term financial goal.

3. Flexibility

Businesses can tap into a fractional CFO's expertise on-demand, giving them enhanced financial leadership precisely when pivotal financial decisions, planning, or support are required.

Suppose a retail business experiences a significant drop in sales during the post-holiday season. When this happens, the business may scale down the fractional CFO’s involvement.

This approach helps the growing business adapt to the seasonality of its industry while optimizing financial resources.

But that’s not all.

You can also cancel the arrangement with ease if the engagement doesn't align with your expectations.

4. Fresh, External Perspective

Thanks to a fractional CFO's fresh outlook, they can spot inefficiencies you might have missed and highlight roadblocks that could be limiting your growth.

Plus, since the fractional executive is external to your organization, they bring unbiased strategic advice as well. This impartiality enables them to make data-driven financial decisions prioritizing your company's best interests.

Hire the Best Fractional CFO Through Go Fractional

At Go Fractional, we've got an exclusive network of fractional CFOs with vast experience in turbocharging business growth. Whether you're running a small business, kicking off a startup, or steering a big-shot enterprise, we've got you covered.

With our personalized, thoroughly vetted leadership suggestions, your organization will be well-equipped to navigate the complexities of your industry and achieve lasting success.

Our financial leaders have a wealth of experience in financial management and strategy, even leading companies through IPOs.

Why Go Fractional?

At Go Fractional, we take pride in our dynamic community of meticulously chosen fractional CFOs. Our talent pool consists of part-time professionals, seasoned entrepreneurs who've steered successful ventures, or experts actively seeking the perfect opportunity in their preferred market or sector.

What sets us apart?

We shoulder all the sales and administrative tasks, both for you and our fractional CFOs. This means they can channel their expertise into your projects with ease.

The outcome?

You reap the rewards of streamlined overhead expenses, and our fractional CFOs receive fair compensation for their exceptional skills and dedication.

How Go Fractional Works

At Go Fractional, meeting candidates comes at absolutely no charge to you. It's a fantastic opportunity to define your project, connect with exceptional consultants, and get them started on your project swiftly.

Here’s how we’ll help you find the best fractional executive for your specific needs:

  1. Connect: We offer a wide selection of executive leadership member profiles to explore.
  2. Meet: Meet with our members to delve into vital aspects like project outcomes, schedules, and costs. Afterward, introduce the Go Fractional member to your leadership team to ensure a good fit. Once everyone is on board, we'll craft a proposal that outlines the engagement, giving you and your stakeholders an opportunity to review it thoroughly.
  3. Begin: Once you’ve reviewed and approved the proposal and selected a start date, we’ll send contracts based on it.

How We Source Our Fractional Talent

  1. Applications: We only consider applicants currently holding leadership positions and founders of successful companies.
  2. Interviews: We’ll then conduct thorough interviews with all candidates to assess their compatibility with our community and clients.
  3. Profiles: Candidates must draft a comprehensive profile showcasing their prior experience, projects, and accomplishments, which they'll submit for approval.

If you're seeking an expert who can anticipate any financial challenge and elevate your leadership cadre, then you've found the right match in us.

Most of our talent has transitioned away from full-time employment, enabling them to engage with various projects and clients simultaneously. This provides you with a wealth of perspectives and experience necessary for your continued growth.

What about invoicing?

We keep things simple with a monthly invoicing system, and you'll get one invoice — no matter the number of executives you’re working with.

We’ll also stay in touch regularly to ensure everything is progressing smoothly!

But how much does a fractional CFO cost?

We’ll find out next.

How Much Do Fractional CFO Services Cost?

There isn’t a fixed price for fractional CFOs, but they commonly use two models:

  • Hourly rates: Typically ranging from $250 to $500
  • Day rates: Usually one to two days per week, amounting to around $1,200-2,500 per day.

The final cost also varies based on factors such as the CFO's time commitment, expertise, and the complexity of your financial situation. But you can expect to pay an experienced CFO around $10,000–20,000 per month with Go Fractional.

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