5 Critical Soft Skills for Virtual CFOs
by Michael Burdick, on May 16, 2018
At a certain point in your company’s growth, you need a lot more than someone to run payroll and track sales. You need financial strategy and guidance, competitive analysis and profitability optimization. You need the expertise of a virtual CFO.
A virtual CFO, also known as a part-time CFO, can provide a range of customized financial services on an hourly or per-project basis. This can be especially valuable if it doesn’t yet make sense to hire a full-time, salaried CFO.
When searching for a virtual CFO, hard skills like cash flow management and risk assessment are must-haves. But, a CFO’s creativity, vision and expertise is only as valuable as their reach. That’s where soft skills come in. As an influencer, change agent and advisor, a virtual CFO needs superior people skills. It’s the only way to do an effective job.
These five soft skills are critical to assuring that the insights and leadership of your virtual CFO get translated into tactics to drive your strategy – and your business – forward.
No one can tackle a problem until they understand what it is. Before making recommendations, a virtual CFO first needs to identify pain points and company goals, understand the personalities and skills of those involved and learn about the product the company produces.
This can only happen by listening from a place of humility, not arrogance. A first-class listener will be far more likely to develop solutions tailored to your needs, rather than talking over you or providing solutions before even identifying the real problem.
Call it teamwork, or emotional intelligence or a little bit of both. A virtual CFO isn’t a full-time employee, but they should feel like one. That means identifying themselves as part of the team, showing compassion and friendliness to colleagues and making an effort to fit in.
Company culture is important. If a part-time CFO holds themselves aloof, they’re missing an opportunity to be an influencer and to learn more about what makes your company tick.
An effective CFO – virtual or not – can explain complex ideas in a simplified format, so they resonate with all key stakeholders within your company. This means having the foresight to develop presentations that match the expertise level of the audience, having the patience to answer all questions completely and the initiative to follow-up with those who want to learn more.
A virtual CFO very well may suggest some major financial changes to your company. Before you make a decision on whether to take action, you should expect to be thoroughly educated on your options.
Ability to Manage Conflict
This is not the ability to create conflict. It’s an acknowledgement that in a successful company with limited resources and driven employees there’s going to be disagreement about the best path forward. You should expect no less.
A virtual CFO should be an expert in resolving conflict productively, by hearing out competing visions, providing recommendations and helping guide your company towards the best possible long-term solution.
Your virtual CFO should be a wise advisor, a fair mediator and someone who pushes the conversation forward while defusing any personal aspects of a disagreement.
Any executive needs to be trustworthy in order to be effective, but this is especially the case with a CFO.
Not only is a part-time CFO highly involved with your company’s finances, they’re also likely to make recommendations that are new to your company. That’s why you hired them, after all.
Those recommendations will hold far more weight if your part-time CFO has taken the time to build trust within the company by treating colleagues kindly and honestly. A CFO must put a premium on openness and transparency.
What to Expect With a Virtual CFO
You’re hiring someone to help you understand the bigger financial picture, where improvement can be had, and how to achieve your long-term financial goals. You need a partner and someone who does far more than just run numbers.
Paro’s virtual CFOs are in the top 2% of talent and understand that the role is not just numbers based – it’s also people-based.