What is a Fractional CFO?

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Small and medium-sized businesses often face a variety of financial challenges, especially when it comes to managing accounting and finance functions. This is where a fractional CFO can come in handy. A fractional CFO provides part-time financial management services to a business, which is much more affordable than hiring a full-time CFO. This article will discuss what a fractional CFO is, how it differs from a traditional CFO, and the benefits and drawbacks of hiring one for your business.

What is a Fractional CFO?

A fractional CFO is a part-time financial executive who provides financial management services to a business. They offer financial planning, accounting, budgeting, and forecasting services, as well as financial analysis and reporting.

These executives can be a valuable asset to a business that does not have the resources or need to hire a full-time CFO. They can also be useful for businesses that are looking to scale their operations and need more financial expertise than their existing accounting team can provide.

A fractional CFO differs from a traditional CFO in that they work on a part-time basis. They can work remotely or on-site and are generally more flexible than a full-time CFO. Fractional CFOs are also more affordable, as businesses only pay for the services they require. Traditional CFOs are typically more expensive and work full-time, which can be cost-prohibitive for many small businesses.

Why Do Growing Businesses Frequently Start with a Fractional CFO?

For small businesses, accounting can often take a back seat to daily operations. However, as companies grow, the need for expert financial guidance becomes increasingly critical. Many small businesses may not be able to afford a full-time CFO, but a fractional CFO can help bridge the gap.

Part-time chief financial officers can provide valuable insights and planning for businesses that have outgrown their current accounting resources. Companies can access expertise from a seasoned financial professional without incurring the high cost of a full-time hire.

When small businesses find themselves bogged down with day-to-day accounting responsibilities, it can be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. This can lead to missed opportunities and potential financial pitfalls. A fractional CFO can help provide a broader view of a company’s financial landscape, helping to identify areas where improvements can be made and where risks may lie. With a fractional CFO, small businesses can access the benefits of having an experienced financial professional without breaking the bank.

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What Can a CFO Do for My Business?

CFOs provide valuable strategic insights and leadership. These experienced executives bring a fresh perspective to the company’s financials and assist with financial planning, budgeting, and forecasting. CFOs can also identify potential risks and opportunities for growth and help businesses make informed decisions.

Additionally, a chief financial officer also takes pressure off overworked accounting departments, so the accounting team can focus more on day-to-day tasks.

If you have a controller, a CFO could be even more valuable. Your controller can implement your CFOs directives and oversee day-to-day operations, so your chief financial officer can keep their eyes on the big picture.

The CFO role also typically works closely with other C-Suite executives to help them better understand the financial state of the company. Moreover, CFOs can play a critical role in representing the business in fundraising efforts and attracting investors, potentially leading to increased growth and success.

Should My Company Consider Hiring a Fractional CFO?

You should analyze several areas before deciding on whether your business needs to hire a full-time or fractional CFO.

First and foremost, a company’s financial operations tend to become more complex as their annual revenue increases. Businesses with higher revenues are more likely to benefit more from the expertise of a fractional or full-time CFO.

Another factor to consider is the size of the business. Larger businesses tend to have more complex financial operations, making the experience and vision of a CFO more valuable.

Larger businesses may also require more hours of executive services, so a full-time hire will likely be more cost-effective than a fractional CFO.

Finally, businesses should consider their budget and specific needs. Larger businesses with more complex finances may prefer a full-time CFO, but smaller businesses typically won’t require a full 40 hours from their CFO every week.

Additionally, a fractional CFO can be a cost-effective way for smaller businesses to benefit from the expertise of a CFO without having to commit to the expense of a full-time employee.

Some businesses may require CFOs with industry-specific knowledge. In this case, it may be difficult to locate a fractional CFO with the required expertise, so the business may have to locate a full-time CFO to fulfill the duties.

Ultimately, you’ll have to decide the best option for your business. However, considering these factors will help you determine your business’s needs.

Pros and Cons of a Fractional CFO

Here are the biggest pros and cons of hiring a fractional CFO


  • Lower cost than a full-time CFO
  • More flexibility than a full-time CFO
  • Provides insights for executives for better decision-making
  • Improved planning and forecasting
  • Takes pressure off accounting department
  • Don’t have to pay for benefits, payroll taxes


  • Less availability than a full-time CFO
  • Not as involved with your day-to-day business as a full-time CFO
  • May lack consistency because of their multiple obligations
  • Will still need to have internal backup in case the fractional CFO is unavailable

Key Takeaways for Businesses Considering Fractional CFOs

A fractional CFO provides part-time financial management services to a business, which is much more affordable than hiring a full-time CFO. Fractional CFOs are more flexible than a full-time CFO and can provide valuable insights and advice to other executives and board members. Hiring a fractional CFO may be a good option for growing businesses that need more financial expertise than their existing accounting team can provide, or for companies that are too small.


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