What Do You Want From A B2B CFO

Sep 20, 2008


Sometimes the hardest task I have, is to explain to business owners and my networking contacts what exactly a CFO does. They tend to imagine a pin-striped executive in a very large office with minions and think ...not for me! And no wonder. Because mid size and emerging growth companies need self-starting, high impact, low overhead, highly motivated help - there's just no time for prima donnas! So here's a simple list to help you find a CFO who can really help:

Technician: A professional accounting designation (ACMA, CPA) is the foundation. Your CFO has to have the accounting, process and tax knowledge needed to steer a company’s finances.

Financier: A good CFO not only runs the process for fundraising, but should also bring financing into the company. They will have a track record of originating and closing deals and should have a list of potential financing sources that are eager to take a call.

Closer: Your CFO can be a key member of your sales team, available to help negotiate and close sales. The CFO can be actively involved in managing and optimizing your sales pipeline and should be capable of being deeply engaged in sales.

Operator: Your CFO should take a leading role in bringing operational quality into your company. That means installing just the right amount of process, reporting and structure. Not so much that it slows you down, but enough so that you smoothly run and grow the machine.

Lawyer: It will be a long time before you have in-house counsel and you don’t want to go to your outside law firm every time you get an NDA to sign. So, choose a CFO who’s comfortable reviewing legal documents.

IT: No, you don’t want your CFO troubleshooting Windows Outlook on your desktop, but you do want someone who’s savvy enough in information technology to take the lead in driving your information systems.

Cheapskate: This isn’t usually a problem with CFOs but you want someone who can stretch your dollars by knowing where to cut expenses without harming your business.

Consigliere: Your CFO should be a trusted advisor. Running a company can be lonely. Your CFO can be a key, objective source of advice and counsel as you make the big and the small decisions.

As you probably noticed, only one of these points (the 1st one) actually deals with accounting. Despite their accounting beginnings, the best CFOs go far beyond this foundation. They are capable of adding value to every aspect of the business. Judge yours accordingly and make sure you have a high impact B2B CFO.



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