by Rob Joseph, Director, BeaconCFO Plus
There is some overlap between a fractional CFO, a business consultant, and even an executive coach—but there are important differences.
A fractional CFO (FCFO) functions much the same as a full-time CFO, except, usually, with fewer hours. Generally, an FCFO will work the equivalent of one to three days per week but spread out over the week so that he or she is giving you an acceptable turnaround time on tasks and information. It is not the case that your FCFO will say, “I’ll only be available to you on Mondays and Thursdays.” If you need an answer to something that came up Monday afternoon, it would not be acceptable to wait until Thursday. Instead, your fractional CFO will generally be available for important matters when needed and will provide a 24-hour response time.
A consultant, on the other hand, is likely to schedule one to two days per week or per month to work on a discrete objective or project. Some will work more intensively than this, based on the scope of work. So you will see him or her every other week on Wednesday, for example, to make progress on a specific initiative.
An executive coach—and there are some excellent ones out there—will visit with the CEO and others privately in a closed-door session to work on management issues, strategy, presence, and other more personal areas of the executive’s professional life. An executive coach is more like a counselor or therapist than a consulting engagement, but again, there are many approaches and techniques.
The Difference of a Fractional CFO
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To summarize, a fractional CFO is a trusted member of the executive team. He or she works shoulder to shoulder with your team on both short- and long-term planning and strategy. This differs from the advisory remit of the consultant and counselor. Each position and role is worthwhile and can impact your organization, but, of them all, a fractional CFO becomes an extension of your team and has his or her “boots on the ground,” working for your business.
If you are considering how a fractional CFO may benefit your organization, reach out to our team for a complimentary consultation. Speak to one of our CFOs about your goals, questions, or ideas, and find out how we can work together.