The idea of fractional or part time use of a valuable resource has been around since the 1960s. It was pioneered by the vacation real estate industry when a French ski resort owner recognized few people could afford, let alone needed a resort condominium for all 52 weeks of the year. He addressed this challenge by dividing every room into 52 separate units of time.
Using the slogan “stop renting a room, buy the hotel” he launched a worldwide marketing phenomenon we now know as the time-share industry. Units were sold to different owners, each of whom purchased the full use and enjoyment of the week that best suited their schedule, and at an affordable price. If a buyer needed more than one week a year, they bought as many units as they wanted. And while other “bells and whistles” have been added through the years, over 4 million American families now own at least one vacation timeshare.
The concept of a fractional CFO is no different. Most business leaders recognize the need for trained, experienced financial expertise on their management team. Many simply do not need a full time CFO. Therefore, they cannot cost justify the investment of a full time salary. Even if an owner or manager has the required skill sets, a professional CFO can likely generate a superior work product in less time. This in turn frees up the most valuable and scarcest resource of all, TIME!
No successful entrepreneur ever launched a business with the intent of spending all day analyzing balance sheets, determining marginal profit contribution, dealing with bankers and tax accountants or addressing regulatory inquires. They launch businesses to exploit competitive advantage in their chosen field by servicing customer needs. Any time spent “working on the books” is time away from their real mission and a costly distraction from their value proposition.
Retaining a fractional or part-time CFO or Controller presents a cost effective solution customized to a business’ exact needs, budget and life cycle. The key to a successful fractional CFO relationship is to design and staff that engagement with a professional who will understand your business and address your financial needs. They must also become an integral (if part-time) member of your management team. Your fractional CFO should meet with you to tailor an affordable program to address your specific business needs. Together, you will establish a regular schedule of dedicated time to service those needs. That schedule can vary from just a few hours per month to several days per week, and can be adjusted as future needs require. You the client can typically terminate your fractional CFO at any time and for any reason without incurring additional costs, just as you would if you had hired a full time employee.
Frequently Asked Questions
•What exactly does a CFO do, and how does that change if I use a fractional CFO?
The chief financial officer or CFO is the person primarily responsible for managing the overall financial operations of an organization. This position is responsible for planning, cash flow management, record keeping, financial reporting, etc. The only difference between a traditional CFO and a fractional CFO is the nature of their relationship to the business. While a CFO is full time officer and employee, a fractional CFO is a part-time, independent contractor. However, their duties and responsibilities are virtually identical.
•Will I retain a fractional CFO for a one-time assignment, or will they continue to provide on-going services?
Occasionally, a client will request that that their fractional CFO provides services for a one-time, special project. The CFO will likely endeavor to accommodate all client needs. However, their primary focus will be on providing on-going fractional CFO services, including the development, implementation and monitoring of a long-term business plan. While the time allotted to this process can be adjusted and even reduced as initial objectives are met over time, it is a continuous process that typically requires some effort at least monthly.
•How much should I expect to pay for my fractional CFO?
The cost of fractional CFO services are primarily determined by only two things, the number of hours spent on an account, and the billing rate of individuals providing client services. Barring temporary or emergency situations, a reputable fractional CFO firm will endeavor to staff assignments using associates with skill sets and experience appropriate to your needs. Ultimately, they will provide the level of service you determine based on your needs and within a budget determined by you. Your schedule can vary from just a few hours per month to several days per week, and can be adjusted as future needs require. Typical clients should expect to spend from $500 to several thousand dollars, per month, depending on their needs.
Our approach is to provide a definitive yet thorough assessment allowing you, and your company, to consider a broad overview of alternatives to manage the challenges and enhance the performance of your business.
In short, we identify opportunities, work with you and your organization, and enable you to take advantage of business potential and growth. The move to part time, on call, and virtual services has become more accepted in the business world over the past few years. For a fraction of the cost of a full time employee, a small business can have the Controller / CFO function filled by an experienced professional.
We are headquartered in the Tampa Bay area; a portion of our work is handled remotely, yet, we are able to talk, meet, and work with you on a regular periodic basis.
PETER DESMIDT has more than 48 years of accounting, cost accounting, and systems implementation (including QuickBooks, Intuit, Enterprise, Passport, RealWorld, Peachtree, Great Plains, Dynamics, Sage, Direct Systems, SouthWare, ACCPAC, and Computer Associates software) experience, as well as management positions with companies like Atlantic Richfield, Signode, Norlin Industries and R.R. Donnelley and Sons. Peter DeSmidt’s specific experience is as a CFO, Controller, Accounting Manager and Advisory Consultant. He holds a BA Degree majoring in Accounting and an MBA Degree majoring in Accounting and Computer Science. As we are a small business ourselves, we understand what it takes to get a small company off the ground and on the right track.
Contact us for a free initial telephone consultation to discuss the immediate and long term benefits that we can offer you.
We provide part-time offsite and onsite CFO, Controller, Accounting, Cost Accounting, Forecasting, Inventory Management, Cost Control, QuickBooks Problem Solving, and QuickBooks Training Services to small and medium sized businesses.
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Peter DeSmidt, BA, MBA, PA
QuickBooks Certified Advanced ProAdvisor
Microsoft Certified Accounting Application Specialist
Microsoft Certified Installation Specialist
Contact us to inquire about our CFO and Controller Services.