You may already have a bookkeeper to cover your daily business needs, and a public accountant who provides annual financial statements and tax returns.
But you also require up-to-date, reliable financial information and advice to make timely and wise decisions for your business.
As a business owner, there are many demands on your time. You need reliable help without the added work of hiring, training, and supervising another employee. Outsourcing allows you to spend more of your valuable time on your core business.
When do I need a CFO or Controller?
Businesses who are experiencing one or more of the following situations may wish to consider hiring a part-time Chief Financial Officer (CFO) or Controller to assist them throughout the year:
- You are experiencing cash flow problems, or plan to ask the bank for a loan
- Your profitability has been declining, and you need help increasing revenues and/or decreasing expenses
- You have brought investors or partners into the business and now need more sophisticated financial reporting
- You need more timely and in-depth information about the performance of your business, or help interpreting your financial information
- Your business has grown and you are spending more of your time on administrative tasks than on revenue generating activities
- Your accounting clerk has left and you need someone to interview, hire, and train someone new
- Your usual CFO/Controller has left and you need someone to fill in and help you hire someone new
How is a CFO or Controller different from a Bookkeeper?
A Bookkeeper has training and/or experience in accounting and records the financial transactions of a business. In a small business, one or more bookkeepers may be responsible for recording all transactions. In larger businesses, bookkeepers may specialize as accounting clerks for accounts payable, accounts receivable, or payroll. In businesses with high transaction volumes, a supervisor manages a team of accounting clerks.
A Controller has a professional accounting designation and designs, implements, and monitors the accounting system used to capture financial data. The Controller provides guidance to accounting staff responsible for recording transactions. In addition, the Controller analyzes, interprets, and communicates financial information to management, usually in the form of a monthly financial report.
If you already have an external bookkeeper or internal accounting clerk, a Controller assists you by monitoring internal controls and interpreting financial information for you.
How is a CFO or Controller different from a Public Accountant?
A public accountant is an independent consultant who has in-depth training and experience in performing compilation, review, and audit engagements, and tax planning and tax returns. Clients usually communicate with their public accountant at least once a year.
A Controller works directly for the business as an employee or as a contractor. A Controller has a broad variety of skills and is expected to advise management on a wide range of business issues on a frequent basis.
If you already have a public accountant, a Controller assists you by providing monthly financial reports and advising you on business issues as they arise.
What is the difference between a CFO and a Controller?
A Controller focuses on financial and management reporting, compliance, budgeting, and managing the accounting department. The Controller is responsible for preparing the historical financial information that the CFO needs to perform his or her duties.
A Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is expected to provide strategic direction, forecasting, financial planning, and financing (e.g. raising money through debt or shares). A CFO’s work is primarily future oriented.
What are typical Accounting Roles?
There are traditional accounting and finance roles within a company. In large organizations, each role is typically held by an individual – see responsibilities outlined below. In small organizations, a single person may perform all roles.
Chief Financial Officer (CFO) or Finance Officer
- Oversight of financial operations
- Financial reporting
- Management and cost reporting
- Internal controls
- Short- and long-term financing
- Banking and investments
- Cash management
- Financial risk management
- Risk assessment
- Evaluating controls
In a public practice firm, staff often hold a CPA designation and practice in one of two areas.
In large firms, professionals specialize within accounting or tax, whereas in small firms, professionals may perform a wide variety of services in both areas. Some firms offer additional services such as consulting or insolvency.
- Prepare working papers for compilation engagements
- Obtain a general understanding of many different industries
- May specialize in ASPE (Canadian private), PSAB (public sector), or non-profit accounting standards
- Tax planning
- Tax return preparation
- Assistance with CRA tax audits
- May specialize in Canadian corporate tax, Canadian personal tax, or indirect tax (GST, PST)
Where do you work?
Integral Accounting can attend your office during regular business hours, or perform work remotely from Integral’s office.
How do I get started?
Integral provides a complimentary consultation to help you decide:
- whether you require temporary or on-going support,
- how many hours or days of support are required each month, and
- which specific needs you wish to address.