It's becoming more popular for small businesses to outsource a CFO.
It seems intuitive that a role as serious as a CFO would have to be full-time, but the search rate is high for contracting part time CFOs, because for one, small businesses can't afford to pay their financial controllers over 100k, which is on the low end of the salary range for CFOs.
But the reasons small businesses are outsourcing a CFO extend far beyond simply saving money.
Small businesses that contract a CFO, are putting a very important internal control in place as well. In the world of accounting, internal controls are very important to establish in order to protect an organization's assets. While a business owner would never want to assume their bookkeepers would embezzle funds, putting internal controls in place, like third-party oversight (from an outsourced CFO, etc.) can help deter theft, thereby providing a piece of mind, and charting a more solid financial course into the future.
These "hired guns" can also provide powerful insights into how to achieve long-term growth, cut costs (without hurting the business), adhere to best accounting practices, and make decisions based on financial insights that might not be so obvious to the one appointed to handle the daily accounting (which for a start-up could very well be the business owner).
Of course, contracting a CFO isn't like outsourcing graphic design, or paper shredding services to an outside group--it's handing over the lifeblood of the business, which many businesses tend to be very protective over. Because of the additional risk involved in outsourcing a CFO, small businesses should do their due diligence before signing a contract to retain services. Some of the items that should be done before sealing the deal are checking: Client references, criminal background records, and proof of professional liability insurance.
It's also important to remember that asking a CFO for more than financial insights, like providing attestation services and signing off on the accuracy of financial statements, etc., requires added levels of responsibilities, which in turn may require further due diligence and legal counsel on both sides.
Jonathan Poston currently leads business development for small business ecommerce companies, including www.BooksSetup.com. He can be reached via Linkedin.