Frequently Asked Questions
A Virtual Chief Financial Officer performs the high-level functions of internal accounting department to the extent that the company needs. The services are part-time and specifically tailored to your business. See What is a Virtual CFO for a more thorough discussion on this topic.
Bookkeeping is a common service provided by accountants and CPA’s that can add significant value to companies. Bookkeepers are focused on correctly recording the transactions that take place in your business on a daily basis. A good bookkeeper will ensure that your financial records are well-organized and correctly classified. Some of the same services may be provided as part of a Virtual CFO arrangement, but the focus of a Virtual CFO is on formatting and analyzing data for decision-making. A Virtual CFO takes well-kept books and makes them work for the business through tailored reports and expert advice.
In some cases, hiring a full-time accountant is the right decision. However, there are several questions that you should address before taking that step. How much will the employee cost in salary and benefits? Do you have enough accounting work to fill the new employees time? Will the employee have the skill and experience to provide the services that you need? Often, companies find that they can utilize the services of a Virtual CFO at a lower cost, for the exact time needed, and with the skill required to provide the high-level accounting that will allow the business to grow the way it should.
There is no hard and fast rule for when a company needs the finance and accounting services provided by a Virtual CFO. Put simply, business owners should look for the point at which the time and energy required to operate the business has overwhelmed his or her ability to grow and develop it. An owner will always have administrative tasks, but steering the ship should be the primary focus.
Cost will vary depending on the services provided and the complexity of the transactions within the organization. In all cases, the cost of a Virtual CFO will be significantly less the cost of employing a full-time Controller of CFO.
We have divided the general accounting services that we offer into three main categories (Virtual CFO, Virtual Controller, and Virtual Accounting Manager), but our services will always be tailored to fit your company’s specific needs. We begin every relationship by ensuring that your company’s accounting system and processes are set up to give you accurate and useful information. This includes setting up valuable reports and establishing a strong system of internal controls. We then provide a range of services on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis that allow you to make the decisions that will grow your business.
AICPA Professional Standards define internal control as “a process—effected by an entity’s board of directors, management, and other personnel—designed to provide reasonable assurance regarding the achievement of objectives in the following categories: (a) reliability of financial reporting, (b) effectiveness and efficiency of operations, and (c) compliance with applicable laws and regulations.” Most importantly for small-and medium-sized companies, internal control helps to detect and prevent fraud and errors and provides a system for ensuring that key business functions like paying vendors and depositing checks are consistently carried out as intended.
Creating a strong system of internal controls has little to do with a lack of trust. It is true that strong internal controls limit the opportunity to commit fraud, but they also provide clear processes and divisions of labor that make it easy for an employee to understand his or her role and purpose in the organization. Furthermore, controls are designed for positions and not for people. While you are likely to know five or ten employees very well, your company will eventually grow to the point that you will want to rely on your systems to ensure that everything runs smoothly and honestly. Finally, internal controls are also in place to catch and correct the errors that are occasionally made by even the most honest and competent employee. While fraud is a risk in every company, most problems arise from honest mistakes that go unnoticed.