When Do You Know You Need a CFO?

For many new small businesses the financial office is far from the first thing to be established. However, as a business grows, so does the need for more sophisticated financial services and financial professionals. At some point, successful businesses have to decide whether they should hire a chief financial officer to take charge of all financial operations.

“Our role as CFO is to be a leader in the organization from a financial perspective,” says Vanessa Graham, owner of VGraham, a consulting firm in Baton Rouge that offers outsourced CFO and controller services.

Graham spoke recently at a Tech Park Academy session at Louisiana Technology Park about the topic of when to bring on a CFO and the characteristics you should look for in a CFO. Read on for key takeaways from her presentation.

Understand Other Roles in the Financial Office

Before deciding whether your business needs a CFO, it’s necessary to gain an understanding of some of the other roles critical to the company’s financial operations.

Graham began by explaining the role of the bookkeeper as “the person who captures the data — all transactions in your organization.” She said the best bookkeepers tend to be thorough, including constantly checking behind themselves to make sure they have complete information, and that they have billed everyone, recorded all expenses and paid all bills that are due.

“This sounds very simple, but think about how important it is to you and to your cash flow,” Graham said.. With the right direction bookkeepers can be a key resource to you,” she said.

Graham notes, however, that sometimes the person in the bookkeeping role doesn’t “have the background to shape the information and report it to you such that it tells you a story or tells you where you are.”

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