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Posted on January 23, 2023 at 8:00 PM
Written by Plumb
Although these two important roles are sometimes viewed as interchangeable, and indeed there are some similarities, there are important – and impactful – differences between the two.
Figuring out what you need and why can help not only your business needs, but your bottom line.
A Chief Financial Officer, commonly referred to as a CFO, is a senior-level executive who oversees the finances within a company or organization. In this position, they are expected to create financial forecasts, budgets, monitor cash flow, and analyze the financial impact of mergers and investments. This role reports to the CEO and advises the CEO and other senior executives on strategy and growth. Think of this as a high-level, big-picture strategic role. A CFO should be familiar with best accounting practices but isn’t necessarily a CPA.
A Controller, or a Financial Controller, and also known as a Comptroller in certain industries, is the lead accountant of a company. This person is focused on running the day-to-day accounting activities of the company. It is a less senior role than a CFO, and in fact they typically report to the CFO. Think of this as a routine, task-oriented role. A Controller should be a CPA, or at least hold a similar professional license or degree.
How can you determine what your business needs?
A CFO is needed in times of significant expansion. This might take the form of changing a revenue model, moving into international territories, or analyzing the possibility of a merger or acquisition. Hiring a CFO is a huge investment as they command high salaries and expect top-tier benefits.
A Controller is needed when an organization is required to create accurate, timely, GAAP-compliant reports. In addition, as Controller’s are the ones who oversee and manage the policies and procedures in place to protect the assets of their company or organization, it is useful to have a Controller on board during times of transition or expansion.
Should I outsource a CFO or Controller role?
There are many benefits to outsourcing one or both roles.
Outsourcing a CFO or a Controller is an efficient, smart way to help your business run as smoothly as possible without drowning in overhead. Outsourcing provides cost-effective and scalable solutions for your business.
We are here to help guide you through the outsourced accounting process and to answer any questions you may have. With decades of experience and hundreds of clients, Plumb is here to support you as you take your business to the next level. Please let us know if you’d like to schedule time for a free consultation. We’d love to help.
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