CFO vs Controller/Bookkeeper

What differentiates a CFO from either a controller or bookkeeper and why may it make sense to utilize the services of a CFO? The controller or bookkeeper is mainly responsible for managing daily financial tasks such as the general ledger, dealing with accounts receivable and payable, talking to the bank and producing month end financial statements. A CFO, although capable of all those tasks should be able to help provide strategic financial input to the CEO, analysing past business performance, industry trends and the company’s financial position to help plot a successful growth trajectory for the business while ensuring the company does not overextend financially In short a controller or bookkeeper looks backwards the CFO looks forward, playing an integral role in taking companies to a higher level of success. How may a CFO help? Understanding the real drivers of business performance Once the key drivers have been identified, work with the CEO to ensure that the business maximizes these influences on the business, monitoring monthly or weekly via a tailored dashboard. Anticipate potential pitfalls Just as planning for success is important it is equally vital to have contingency plans to minimize the impact of adverse events such as increases in major costs, loss of key personnel or contracts, adverse movements in interest rates etc. Growing the Business Should a business grow organically, or by acquisition? Vertically or horizontally? What will add most value and which approach stands the best chance of success? Where to concentrate? Do some aspects of the business make significantly higher or lower margins? How to expand the winners and either revamp or discontinue unprofitable lines. Is the capital structure correct? A CFO should be able to identify the company’s capital needs and work with lenders and investors to ensure lack of financing does not inhibit profitable growth. Is IT employed appropriately? Technology, when appropriately employed in the financial management of a company should increase automation and improve critical controls to help protect company assets. How does the company compare with competition? A CFO should be able to benchmark company performance against other companies in similar businesses, highlighting areas for potential improvement. Are investors and lenders happy? A CFO show be able to communicate the company’s current and future financial situation in such a way that investors and lenders feel totally comfortable with company performance.

Peter is a highly regarded, business minded, financial professional with over 35 years of diversified experience in the US and Europe. He has the ability to synthesize complex issues to produce and implement value enhancing solutions to drive improved profit and cash flow. Peter is energetic, articulate and excellent at presenting his vision to employees, senior executives and stakeholders. His approach has created substantial value for the firms he has worked with.

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