What is the difference between a public accountant and a virtual CFO? Or, to put it another way, a client might ask, “Since I have a public accountant, why do I need a virtual CFO?”

Before we look at the difference between a public accountant and your virtual CFO, let’s establish their similarities. Both have an accounting education. Both make their living dealing primarily with company finances and both may or may not be Certified Public Accountants (CPA).

The differences begin with what they have undertaken since they received their accounting education. The public accountant may have worked as part of management in private industry, but his primary work experience would be in audit, tax, and the other services performed by public accountants.

Your virtual CFO’s primary work experience would be in financial management and strategy in the private or public sector.

The skill sets are related, they definitely overlap, but they are not identical. We look forward to maximise your future.

Furthermore, the perspective is different. Your virtual CFO works most effectively as part of the client organization. A public accountant, at least with audit clients, must maintain a degree of independence from the client company’s management and management’s decisions.

Most people are familiar with the services public accountants perform. The following is an example of the services they provide:

  • Audit company books and records
  • Provide advice on technical accounting issues
  • Prepare tax returns
  • Provide sophisticated tax planning and strategies
  • Prepare annual, quarterly, or monthly financial statements
  • Assess internal controls
  • Contribute to strategic planning
  • Participate in acquisition planning and due diligence
  • Perform special projects
  • Perform bookkeeping functions for client companies

Your Virtual CFO may perform some of these services for our clients, but you would not hire us to perform your audit or provide you with sophisticated tax advice.

Your Virtual CFO will assist with the following:

  • Assure accurate accounting and timely reporting
  • Modifying & developing systems, policies and procedures
  • Developing strategic business plans
  • Identifying your business success drivers
  • Developing systems to measure results against success drivers
  • Developing growth plans
  • Identifying and improving process efficiencies
  • Training existing staff
  • Assisting with simple tax planning
  • Developing budgets and forecasts
  • Developing treasury plans and managing banking relationships
  • Assessing /modifying internal controls
  • Planning acquisitions, performing or directing due diligence, negotiation, assimilation

Just as the skill sets overlap, so do some of the services. Though the overlapping services may be the same, there will be differences in perspective.

Your Virtual CFO will come with a broad skill set, however there will still be an investment on your part as he learns about your company. The more your Virtual CFO comes to understand, the more insightful and productive they will be. Facts and conditions that may seem disparate to you may help them connect dots that will lead to solutions and improvements. If your company is to receive the greatest benefit possible from this arrangement, it is important that you open your books, records, employees and thoughts to them.

That leads us to one more issue – trust. As a business owner, go with your instincts get a non-disclosure agreement in place, then trust your Virtual CFO to be your trusted advisor for real peace of mind.

What if I don’t think I need a virtual CFO every week? What if I just have a project I need completed?

Your Virtual CFO is available to undertake any specific projects you may require assistance with.

Is having a virtual CFO expensive?

Your virtual CFO ensures minimal cost for optimum return. You only pay for what you use.

Why do I need a virtual CFO if my company has a controller?

Your Virtual CFO can provide you with timely, accurate, and insightful financial and operational information about your business; will be the person you trust to help you create and update your strategic plans; can help you assess your organizational efficiency; help you lead your company to the next level; assemble a talented and professional accounting staff; put together a financial package, effectively present it to your banker, and get the financing you need and above all else remain totally independent in the integrity of the advice and recommendations provided.

Does “virtual” mean that Virtual CFOs are only available online or over the phone? What if I need someone onsite?

The “virtual” in Virtual CFO actually refers to the fact that they are not full-time employees. Otherwise they are very real. They work onsite at the client’s location as required where they can be most effective.

What would a virtual CFO do for my company?

Your Virtual CFO will quickly become your trusted advisor, someone available to you 24/7 when challenges arise, translating into “real peace of mind”.