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  • Writer's pictureRoger DaSilva

What to look for in a CFO or Finance person

People always ask me 2 questions:

  1. When should I hire a Finance person (Head of Finance, CFO, Accountant) in-house?

  2. What kind of person should I be looking for?

This depends on a range of factors such as: Growth trajectory, Complexity of the business, amount of work that needs to be done and of course, how much can they afford!

I found a great post about this topic, which is a Guide to Hiring Your First CFO by Corley Hughes. In it, she describes 3 main Finance/CFO types:

The Accountant CFO

This person typically comes from a large Accounting firm and has a CPA or Controller type background. They are very good at the blocking and tackling of accounting, bookkeeping and 'black and white' finance functions BUT they lack the strategic vision or creative ways to run businesses. Often, they limit a business that is in the growth stages or are struggling to find product market fit.

The Operational CFO

Someone with Operational Finance experience, Financial Planning and Analysis, or a former Head of Finance/CFO. He/she is NOT an accountant but works with them either in house or outsourced, bringing their unique skillset to figure out strategy and operations through the lens of the finance function. They are great at process creation in a growing firm, optimizing for growth while keeping costs in line, hiring strong teams consisting of people with expertise in certain functions necessary for a scale. They also are comfortable speaking with those outside the organization (investors, partners, customers).

The Corporate Finance CFO

This is someone with an Investment Banking, Consulting, Venture Capital, or other Wall Street background. A generalist who can quickly figure out what the best use of capital within the business is for a growing firm, tap into his/her network for a company that is fundraising or seeking non-dilutive capital and speaking with investors in 'their language.' This person is the most strategic of the 3 and most akin to the CEO/COO hybrid who is comfortable negotiating deals with prospective employees, partners, investors and customers. They are also not Accountants nor do they focus on the everyday tasks that are better suited to Finance people with less experience.

Why do I mention this?

It's because I have had these conversations many times and want to give you an idea of what Realm can do for Startups and Small/Medium businesses that are looking for that Finance Person. We are similar to the last 2 CFO types BUT we also have Accounting and Bookkeeping in-house to cover clients that need that help as well. We are a Full Stack Finance company that can grow with your business, from your first few hires to growth/scale and potentially IPO or buyout.

Please feel free to contact us to see if we can help take your business to the next level!

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