April 24

Virtual CFO vs In-House CFO

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Every business needs a CFO. This applies to all businesses ranging from tech startups, small businesses, large conglomerates, and nonprofits alike. Most small businesses begin with a great idea. Once the idea catches on and the services or products start selling, the startup begins to see exponential growth.

Amidst all this, handling your finances can be a challenging task. Even though your business is making money, you cannot afford to hire a full-time CFO. And taking care of your finances during the growth period can be crucial.

Your financial management is one of the few pillars your business will stand upon. If you own a startup, you need financial experts on your side. If you are having problems in this area, one of the experts you need is a Chief Financial Officer or a CFO. Now there are several types of CFOs out there and today we will discuss what is the difference between a Virtual CFO and an In-House CFO and which one is suitable for your business.

Types Of CFOs

Full-Time CFO: A full-time CFO is someone similar to an In-House CFO. These individuals are suitable for businesses that are generating up to $10 million in annual revenue. They handle both financial management and operations that can increase or decrease revenue.

Fractional CFO: A fractional CFO works with different businesses on a part-time basis. A lot of businesses hire fractional CFOs to solve problems without having to pay a full-time salary of a permanent CFO. These individuals are suitable for businesses that fall under the $10 million category.

Interim CFO: An Interim CFO works for an organization for temporary periods. However, Interim CFOs work on a contract basis that is set between one to twelve months. This category lies somewhat between a full-time and fractional CFO.

Virtual CFO: A virtual CFO operates as a hybrid between fractional and interim positions. These CFOs are hired remotely and contact is established via web conferences, phone calls, and video calls. 

To differentiate, if someone is working for your company on location, then you can regard that as an in-house or full-time CFO. If someone is providing you their services remotely then they can be regarded as a “Virtual CFO”.

What Is A Virtual CFO?

It does not matter which CFO you choose to hire. The major chunk of all their responsibilities and managerial tasks will remain the same. These include:

  • Modeling and forecasting finances
  • Preparing financial statements
  • Preparing budgets
  • Managing cash flow
  • Creating reports on taxes and compliance efforts
  • Monitoring investments

A majority of businesses are already conducting these activities, but once they start to grow in size the need for a CFO is necessary. A CEO simply cannot handle the businesses and finances simultaneously. This is where you need an expert to come and take over.

Which CFO Is The Right One For Me?

Some CFOs are experts in certain areas. Others have diverse experience, like fractional CFOs. Depending on the right fit, you need to choose a CFO that will be beneficial for your business

If you are a tech startup, the obvious choice for you would be to go with a vCFO that has relevant experience in your field. Similarly, a CFO that has the maximum amount of experience related to your business should be your choice.

The Rising Trend Of Virtual CFOs

virtual cfo vs in-house cfo - Intrepidium Consulting

With the rise of tech startups, and the proliferation of online businesses. Various accounting and software systems have automated the number-crunching tasks that CFOs of the earlier ages had to contend with.

To be able to outsource mathematical problems to machines, we have been able to reduce costs and time. Although, we still need experts that can solve complex problems and generate more revenue.

Virtual CFOs are able to provide the necessary guidance while minimizing costs. For startups that are operating on low budgets, a virtual CFO is a perfect option. 

Depending on the size of your company, you may need only a few hours of expert opinion in a week. With a virtual or fractional CFO, you can contract their financial services as needed. A schedule can be set up for consultation during the planning or execution stages.

Comparing A Virtual CFO vs In-House CFO

Responsibilities

An In-House CFO oversees all financial aspects of a business where they are hired. They are answerable to stakeholders, board members, and employees. The CFO will have their own accounting team and resources.

A Virtual CFO or a VCFO will be offering their services whenever the company requires them to do so. They will be responsible for financial planning, reporting, and strategic services. They will not be a permanent hire, nor will they have an accounting team. However, a VCFO will have its own staff, providing services simultaneously to different companies.

Responsiveness

An In-House CFO can speculate the future, take swift decisions and handle all of your finances. But there is no guarantee they will make the right decisions all the time.

In contrast, a virtual CFO will be hired for specialized services. Their experience in multiple fields with different companies will allow them to make better decisions for your company. In addition, VCFOs have competent teams who support them in handling complicated financial situations.

Productivity

An In-House CFO may take their time to understand the dynamics of your business. Your business may not be able to achieve the maximum level of productivity right away.

However, a VCFO is bound to speed up your productivity levels. They are being paid for specific expert services. They possess the right tools and experience to swiftly make decisions that will benefit you in the long run.

Cost

For smaller companies, with only a few hours per week, a VCFO can provide the same impact as an In-House CFO would. Larger companies have the resources to hire permanent CFOs but that option is not available to small businesses. So the best option for businesses with small budgets is to get a VCFO to save the extra costs.

Reliability

An outsourced CFO may pose a security risk. You may not be comfortable sharing your sensitive data and financial records. With that concern being legitimate, you have to vet your VCFO before hiring them. That is the only logical solution to the reliability problem.

In comparison to an In-House CFO, that concern is starkly reduced as they are directly responsible to you and your partners. They are present on location and answerable to you. This allows you to trust them more than you would trust a VCFO.

Convenience

An In-House CFO is quite convenient. The person comes to the office daily, does their job, and does not require a whole IT team to set up meetings. The only inconvenience an In-House CFO will provide you is when you have to pay their benefits and salary. Which should not be a problem if you are a large organization.

As compared to a VCFO, they need secure access to your data, a dedicated IT team to set up meetings, and access to your entire network. If you can manage to provide your VCFO with all the right tools and systems, then you can overcome the inconvenience part after only a few hours of work.

Decision-Making

A specialized VCFO is going to make better decisions than an In-House CFO. As we mentioned before, this is all due to their previous experience in diverse settings. VCFOs will help you make data-driven decisions with accurate and low-risk investment calls.

But that does not mean an In-House CFO will make poor decisions. If they are someone who has been with your company for a long time, they can make swift decisions as well. They may not be as specialized as a VCFO but just as good.

Protecting Your Network While Hiring A Virtual CFO

After the COVID-19 pandemic, workforces were forced to operate remotely. With remote work, the employees had to be provided secure access to the systems, applications, and necessary resources that they were working on. 

Use the same principles while hiring a virtual CFO.

With a virtual CFO, security is of paramount importance. This is due to the fact that you are providing them access to all of your networks and financial data. As financial information comes under the same category of privacy and data regulations, you are obligated to implement the following measures:

  • VPNs
  • Firewalls
  • Anti-Virus Softwares
  • Multi-Factor Authentication
  • Malware Blockers

In all cases, you will want to avoid a data breach that will lead to compromises on your financial records and sensitive information. Also, make sure to vet your vCFO before hiring them so that you have ease of mind.

Conclusion

There are no set rules that will determine which CFO you should hire for your company. Make this decision depending on your finances, work culture, and scope. Choosing either an on-site or a virtual CFO will have its own advantages and disadvantages.

Choose a vCFO to save your costs. If your business is making good money, go for hiring an In-House CFO. 

We hope that you enjoyed reading this article. If you want to see more content like this, make sure to check out our blog section. Got questions for us? Send us an email at info@intrepdium.com.

Ryan Roch, CEO Intrepidium Consulting Inc.

About the author

Ryan Roch is the CEO of Intrepidium Consulting, offering customized Bookkeeping, Accounting, Fractional CFO, and Tax Preparation Services to small and medium-sized businesses. With extensive experience in financial reporting, strategic planning, budgeting, compliance, and cash management, Ryan helps clients overcome financial challenges, gain clarity, and achieve their growth objectives.


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