What is Outsourced CFO?
Outsourced CFO (Chief Financial Officer) is an arrangement of having all the services of a qualified CFO, without hiring one full-time. It is known as various other names too like “Fractional CFO”, “Interim CFO Services” or “Online CFO”. It is specifically important for start-ups, who due to budget constraints may not afford a full-time CFO, but still need quality CFO services for activities like fund-raising, financial system design, M&A, and IPO opportunities for an exit, cash flow management and securing further working capital financing rounds. CFO services for startups are the most talked about, but outsourced CFO is equally important for Hedge Funds and Private Equity.
It also finds an application in Private Equity and Hedge Funds commonly known as Hedge Fund Outsourced CFO and Private Equity Outsourced CFO
How does an Outsourced CFO work?
It’s natural to ask as to how exactly a virtual CFO performs its functions and what is outsourced CFO duties and responsibilities.
It works like any other outsourced function. A virtual CFO takes the tasks over the mails, chats, or video calls. His team understands the work that is required to be delivered. As a competent outsourced CFO is working with multiple start-ups and he may also suggest the best financial strategy for your company’s size, industry, or situation.
How much Outsourced CFO services cost?
Pricing of these services varies from company to company and from country to country. Best outsourced CFO companies offer multiple outsourced CFO solutions. They work with the exact estimates in terms of hours required for the job before the job starts. This is done so that there is no confusion as to what will you be paying for the services at the end of the specific task. Sometimes there are monthly billing models for a dedicated person. If the services are based out of a low-cost country like India, costs can turn out to be competitive for the quality of services. An hourly rate of $ 30-100 is currently acceptable. Tasks like accounting are at the lower end of the price spectrum, whereas tasks like financial modeling and strategy are at the higher levels of the price spectrum.
Why outsource CFO? Advantages of Outsourcing
There are multiple advantages to this. The best services are about producing business results. Some of the major ones are:
Cost Reduction: Comparing Outsourced CFO vs. the in-house permanent CFO, there are unmistakable advantages in terms of costs. The outsourced option, who is based out of a low-cost country like India can bring down the cost in the tune of 30-70%, depending on the location where you are based.
Team Skill Enhancement: When a company is small, it has got very little resources to have all the skills onboard. A start-up finance team should be well versed with fund-raising, preparing pitch decks, establishing financial systems, and accounting. All of this is difficult to get in a single or a few people. The solution here is to outsource this so that you can take advantage of the skill and team of the outsourced vendor
Variable Cost: When you outsource there are no contractual exit barriers. If a start-up needs to conserve cash, it can defer the outsourcing engagement. Also if it needs hyperactivity regarding finance and would want to quickly add the outsourced team members. Payment is based on pay per use which gives immense flexibility to the start-up
Ramp up and Ramp Down: Multiple functions of Corporate Finance are not permanent. For example, preparing financial management systems is a one-time activity. Once it’s done, it would not be done again until there is a major overhaul required in the financial system. Similarly, a pitch deck will only be needed in case of fund-raising. Hence the demand for corporate finance function is un-even. For meeting those un-even demands, it’s not possible to hire specialists every time. What instead makes sense is to have an outsourced team that can be ramped up or down depending on the work requirements.
Third-Party View: As an outsourced entity is a third party that is managing CFO functions for multiple start-ups, Private Equity Funds, and Hedge Funds, it has limited motivation to be part of financial irregularities. It comforts investors. Investors prefer to invest in a hedge fund or a private equity fund that has outsourced the fund administration process. Outsourced hedge Fund Operations are generally considered a plus for the fund looking for investors
What are the tasks performed by the outsourced CFO?
The roles operate at multiple levels like Strategic, Tactical, and Daily Tasks. There are multiple CFO functions along with the CFO for startups Here are the major tasks performed
Strategic Tasks: Fund-raising, Fund-raising documentation, Financial Strategy, M&A facilitation, Finalizing KPIs for Business Verticals in line with the Strategy, Investment Strategy, Strategic CFO services, Business Advisory Services, Consulting
Tactical Activities: Design of Financial Systems, Renegotiating Contracts for Cost Reduction, Structuring and Finalizing Cash Flow Positions, Financial Reporting, Budgeting, Forecasting, Implementing the Best Accounting Practice, Fractional CFO for Startups, Contract CFO
Daily Management: Accounting services for startups, Daily/Weekly/Monthly Dashboards, Data Collection, and Reporting, Reporting KPIs for all Business Verticals, Dashboards and Management Information Systems, Accounting CFO Services
How to finalize an outsourced CFO?
There are many outsourced CFO firms in India and elsewhere. Here is a stepwise approach to finalizing an outsourced CFO
Step 1: Prepare the list of outsourced CFO companies in India and elsewhere.
Step 2: Get in touch with the companies and ask for a meeting and CFO services brochure
Step 3: If the meeting was impressive, and you are satisfied with the capability of the vendor ask for work samples and client references
Step 4: Check the work samples and reference and shortlist the vendor for Outsourced CFO engagement letter after reviewing the CFO services proposal,
Step 5: Select the engagement model that is most flexible and responsive to your business needs
About Magistral Consulting
Magistral Consulting (www.magistralconsulting.com) is a Research, Analytics, and Consulting agency helping start-ups, hedge funds, private equity funds, real estate funds, and other companies in outsourcing CFOs. It also offers startup accounting services
About the Author
Prabhash Choudhary is the CEO of Magistral Consulting and can be reached at Prabhash.firstname.lastname@example.org for any observations or queries related to the article. If you want to outsource your CFO raise an inquiry at https://magistralconsulting.com/contact/