I have seen several companies recently that, after years of operating without a strong financial partner to maximize their success (but that is a topic for another day!), decided to appoint

a Chief Financial Officer, or a Fractional CFO,

only to be seriously disappointed.

These are companies on the smaller size. The one today $25 million revenue … certainly not insignificant. The one earlier this month was closer to $2 million.

They have poured years of their lives into building a business and obviously not done badly. They certainly are still doing what they love. Have not run out of cash. Making a profit.

But in came a person who efficiently sold themselves as a CFO. Probably was paid well. But after several months

the CEO is feeling frustrated.

Didn’t get the partner and “co-conspirator” they planned on having. Feels the accounting and reporting “is in a mess”. Has not seen statements “for a long time”.

As an accountant and CFO I find this embarrassing. Another example of the many reasons why so few companies want to bring in financial guidance early enough.

What is the problem?

Was it miscommunication?

Many of the CEOs have described the person as having been “very convincing”, “created a lot of confidence”. Did the parties not have a common picture of what was expected and promised?

Are these finance executives “above” initially taking off the cufflinks, rolling up their sleeves and taking a good look at the books and records? Unwilling or unable to consider the help or training the team may need? Not want to learn a new system? Unable to confirm or strengthen the foundation below a confident business?

A foundation that has information to support growth, improve nuanced performance, and empower a happy founder, or CEO?

An executive who feels someone is managing the accounting and administration. A person to develop their team, and who is both competent and confident to raise their sights to the horizon? Capable of strategizing and delivering the future, because there is a strong core to support it?

The CFOs that were appointed are really experienced people; skilled and credentialed. But they missed the mark. Left the founder/CEO/executives with a lot of questions, and no further forward on their road to success.

The reality is WHO takes responsibility in your business is more important than HOW it gets done.

Your business does not need to add a senior person and then find you are in handcuffs – A bigger payroll bill, allowing “time”, but in reality no further forward. Feeling your hands are tied. Waiting for progress or the right time to make another change.

I’d love to hear your thoughts here.

Why are CEOs struggling? What do founders need? Why do CFOs appear to miss the mark?

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