A Fractional CFO Can Help Build Business Relationships

A Fractional CFO Can Help Build Business Relationships

by Karl Neset

Your accounting department may be functioning just fine. And you havenโ€™t grown (yet) to the point where you need to hire a full-time Chief Financial Officer. But there are still ways your company could benefit from a CFOโ€™s expertise, especially when it comes to strengthening your business relationships. You can get that support and insight by bringing in a fractional CFO.

Do You Have the Right Partners?

Every business works closely with banking, legal, and insurance partners. How well those relationships work directly affects your business performance and bottom line.

For example, do you have the right access to the capital you need? Some banks can be absentee partners for small businesses, whereas other banks may provide better-tailored, hands-on service. As a growing company, you want partners who are actively involved.

Right-sizing is also vital for an effective legal relationship. Some firms might be more responsive and affordable than others.However, if you started out with a sole practitioner, you may have outgrown that relationship. It might be time for a firm that can allot you more hours and has a broader range of expertise or services.

 A Fractional CFO Can Help Revitalize or Find New Relationships

A fractional CFOโ€™s role is to advise you, but they also serve proactively as a liaison to existing partners or as a connection to potential new partners who could be a great fit going forward.

Formed relationships are hard to give up. You have to separate the personal side from your real business needs. As you grow and change, that may mean switching partners. Or, sometimes partners just need to be pushed to grow with you.

As a knowledgeable and independent third party, an outsourced CFO is well-positioned to give a professional nudge to your partner without offending them, because they can explain how the partner will also benefit by upgrading their service to you. Maybe the problem is โ€œrelationship fatigue.โ€ In this case, switching to a new client manager could refresh the relationship and keep your partner hungry to meet your needs.

If needed, a fractional CFO can also be the โ€œbad guyโ€ in ending a relationship. But thatโ€™s the worst-case scenario.

The CFO doesnโ€™t come in as a flamethrower, their role is to create positive change that makes your business stronger. They ease into that by first learning about your companyโ€™s needs and challenges. Then, theyโ€™ll sit down for a conversation with the owner, where they can really listen.

They may serve as a mirror because sometimes itโ€™s the companyโ€™s own actions or expectations that lead to poor relationships. If so, they can work with you to triage the relationship and identify ways to improve.

Think of it as putting your partnerships on a โ€œperformance plan.โ€

Choosing the Right CFO

Do you really need CFO-level help? Even if you think your business relationships are rock solid, an โ€œinspection and tune-upโ€ from an experienced CFO can confirm that youโ€™re on the right track or uncover opportunities to improve.

For many companies, bringing in a fractional CFO makes the most sense. A part-time engagement that lasts 9-15 months and puts a fractional CFO onsite at your business 1-2 days a week can deliver the expertise and responsive service you need, but at a lower cost than hiring a full-time CFO. You can realize the highest value during this period, without concerns about lingering costs with diminishing returns.

Smaller local or regional businesses have different needs and challenges than huge nationals. Just like other key business partnerships, you need an accounting team that understands your company as well as the specifics of your industry. One that is big enough to provide ready advice from experts across a broad range of essential financial/accounting areas, but not so large that clients risk getting lost or undeserved.

Also consider the team behind your fractional CFO. If a firm has accountants who specialize in other areas, like performance and process optimization or mergers and acquisitions, they will be able to offer you broader support with the help of their colleagues. 

The Twin Cities metro is a small market. Your companyโ€™s reputation matters and it follows you. A fractional CFO can help you grow by establishing sound, successful business relationships.

download the financial checklist for business leaders at this link

Karl Neset

Karl Neset

Karl Neset is an accomplished professional offering over 20 years of expertise in improving organizational finance and operational processes. He serves as a solid foundation and knowledgeable advisor and manager, utilizing excellent leadership and communication skills to provide guidance and direction to executive leaders, governing boards, staff, and business partners. Karl effectively analyzes financial data, recommends improvements, executes financial tools, systems, and accounting measures that drive profitable performance, limits costs, and significantly improve overall profit margins and cash flow. He has been with Redpath and Company as Business Development Manager and Fractional CFO since 2022.