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Is an interim CFO right for your business?

February 4, 2010 Finance

In last week's post we told you about the rising trend of hiring temporary CFOs. This week, we’re going to explore the trend from the business side so you can get a sense of whether hiring a temporary CFO might be a good solution for you now or in the future.

Interim CFOs can be an excellent situational asset

Hiring any executive is rarely a quick process. Whether your company is growing and you’re looking for your first CFO or you’ve recently had a seasoned pro retire and you need to replace his or her wisdom, you shouldn’t rush your search. But you still need leadership in the meantime to help keep the business on track.

Maybe your company has grown to the point that you’re starting to think it may be time to dust off that exit strategy you thought was a wild dream a few years ago. Positioning your business for sale is not cut and dry. You need the advice of a financial executive, but conducting a search and hiring one full-time doesn’t make any sense if you’re just going to sell.

Certainly, our economy has been nothing to write home about for some time, but there are many businesses that have thrived during these lean times. If yours is in this category and you’re ready to capitalize on that achievement by introducing a new product or entering into a new partnership, financial leadership is critical to ensuring that the success continues.

Then there are other reasons that are smaller in scope, but still just as important.

  • You need guidance in the areas of financial planning and analysis in order to create a detailed budget and monthly forecasts.
  • You’re approaching your executive search cautiously and want to try out an individual you think may be right for the job.
  • You hate to think about it, but seasoned CFOs have what it takes to detect corporate fraud.
  • You’re looking for new ways to improve the financial performance of your company, and need an unbiased point of view.

What does a temporary executive bring to the table?

Nobody earns the title CFO, either temporarily or long-term, without building an impressive resume and body of wisdom. So by bringing someone into the role on an interim basis, you’re instantly gaining access to all the lessons he or she has learned over time. All at a significant cost savings to you.

There is a strong upside to bringing in a short-term financial leader. If it doesn’t work out, there’s no messy severance to deal with, you just make a call and request another. If it does work out, and you find yourself in a position of continued growth, customer satisfaction and high employee morale, well, you may have found yourself a full-timer instead of a temp.

If you’ve had experience hiring an interim CFO or you’ve been thinking about bringing one on, we would love to hear your thoughts on this emerging trend in our business. Please weigh in using the comments section below.

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