cfo and controller financial accounting

CFO or Controller: Which Do You Need?

So, you’re a business owner. Right now, business is going well and things are looking up. Revenues are growing, and you cannot afford to make any critical mistakes. Your bookkeeper is doing a great job, but you feel like you need more from your financial data to make important decisions. Questions keep circling back and forth in your mind making you stress more and more. One specifically is, “Do I need a CFO or a Controller? Or do I need both?” A lot of businesses struggle with this decision and aren’t sure which to hire. Let’s delve into that question.

The Two Financial Leadership Positions 

There are two types of financial leadership positions within a business – Controller, and CFO. They are not the same position, and they’re certainly hold different responsibilities than a Bookkeeper. Some companies are fine with only a Controller, but if your organization is expected to continue its growth trajectory, you might need both. So, what is the difference between the two roles, and how will you determine if you need one or both?

Typically, companies start with a Bookkeeper/Staff accountant, then a Controller and ultimately move upstream and hire a CFO.  In a general sense, bookkeepers provide day-to-day execution, Controllers are analysts and CFOs are all about strategy.

CFO Controller Staff Accountant
Funding –Capitalization Cash Flow Accounts Payable
Pricing Models Forecasting Cut Checks
Acquisition – Diligence Vendor Selection Reconcile Bank Accounts
Governance & Compliance Internal Financial Visibility Journal Entries/GL
Accounting Software Selection Accounting Software Implementation Billing and Invoicing Monitoring Cash Levels

What is a CFO and Controller ?

A Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is a senior-level executive whose key role is to manage the full financial responsibilities of a company. The primary duties of the CFO include cash tracking and financial planning of the organization. A CFO also examines their company’s financial strengths and detects and discovers the corrective measures to improve the financial stability of the company.

A financial Controller can be simply called a company’s lead accountant. A Controller is a person who is responsibly for all accounting processes, including high-level accounting and managerial accounting within a company. A Controller usually reports to the Chief Financial Officer, CFO. The Controllers primary duty is to prepare the operating budgets, administering financial reporting, and preform payroll related duties.

By understanding the function of each role listed above, you will be able to determine whether or not you need a Controller or a CFO. Notice, none of the roles above mention taxes, as this is typically handled by your CPA at the end of the year. The roles listed above focus on the key financial responsibilities of running the business, not year-end taxes.

The next question is “How much will it cost me to hire a Controller or CFO?” Salaries of these positions range and are based upon a few factors, including location of the business and size of company.

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How NOW CFO Can Help

If you aren’t ready to spend these kinds of funds on a full-time Controller or CFO, there is another option. NOW CFO can provide you with a part-time Controller or CFO. Thousands of companies have leveraged the NOW CFO model to get all the analysis and strategy they need, but at a fraction of the cost. The NOW CFO team of consultants is made up of accounting and finance experts that work onsite to provide business leaders the financial visibility they need to make important decisions with confidence. NOW CFO consultants work on location to ensure they fully understand the uniqueness and complexity of the client’s business.

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Gain Financial Visibility Into Your Business

We provide outsourced, fractional, and temporary CFO, Controller, and operational Accounting services that suit the needs of your business.

  • Hourly Rates
  • No Hidden Fees
  • No Long Term Requirements

NOW CFO provides the highest level of expertise in finance and operational accounting to accelerate results and achieve strategic objectives for sustainable growth and success.

After completing the form, a NOW CFO Account Executive will reach out and learn more about your needs so that we can pair you with the right Partner.

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