CFO Services for Hire

by Rosemary Lamaestra

A growing trend in the business world today – and something to consider if you have the need – is the use of temporary CFO services. If you think CFO services are a bit high-end for temp help, think again.

Let’s say on some random Monday morning the CFO comes into your office and announces he is leaving in two weeks. You, as the CEO, know that the quarterly filing is due in a few weeks, the payroll department needs to be supervised to get the payroll processed on time, and the external auditors will be knocking at the door in a matter of months. You have to replace your CFO, but you don’t want to rush a hire before you mull over your needs: what level of expertise should you look for, do you require someone full-time or part-time, what are the plans for your company going forward, what can you afford?

There is an answer, and it may be as close as your CPA firm.

When you need someone with experience and expertise that can fill the CFO’s spot almost immediately, many CPA firms have the professional staff who can serve in a CFO capacity until the company finds the right person for their organization. In fact, Mark Zinman, a member of the PICPA, wrote in an August 2016 CPA Now blog — CFO Services (and More) for Companies That Can’t Afford One — that “smaller businesses can benefit from the entire CPA knowledge base encompassed in that firm. So, a business would not only be hiring a ‘CFO, ‘ but it would also be tapping into the company’s broad collective knowledge.”

You never know why or when an executive may leave. Employees, including CFOs, depart for any number of reasons: – a spouse’s job is relocating, the CFO has decided to return to school, or this person is moving into another type of work altogether. Departures like this may not happen frequently, but they do happen. In fact, this situation transpired for one of our clients, and our firm was ready to step in and assist with the CFO duties so the business could continue its daily operations.

This particular business is a not-for-profit, and as such, it is required to file monthly, quarterly, and annual compliance reports. Because it is a small not-for-profit, the CFO wore many hats, including human resources. Our firm-provided an “interim CFO.” and in the beginning, she spent several weeks becoming familiar with the accounting system and the reports that were due. She spent time sitting with employees to understand how they contributed to the company. She also invested time reviewing checks and balances, preparing grant requests, and providing feedback to the CEO and COO.

After some time, it was determined that one or two days a week was sufficient for the week. The CEO decided that the temporary hire would continue until the organization was able to find the right person for the job. The CEO was pleased that he had a seasoned professional to fill the position and the time to make a decision based on the needs for the organization going forward.

A temporary CFO from a CPA firm is an additional benefit because the knowledge and experience of CPAs can be invaluable assets to a business. Some potential advantages include having the CPA assist with preparing financial statements for the outside auditors, preparing quarterly and annual tax filings, dealing with regulatory agencies if the need arises, conducting management presentations, interviewing full-time replacement candidates, and making recommendations for operational changes.

If you or someone you know is in the difficult position of losing your top finance officer, interim CFO services from a trusted CPA firm can be a win-win for all involved.

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