The Gig Economy and the C-Suite: Adding a Freelance CFO to your Organization
by Pat Stokowski, on Feb 26, 2019
A change in corporate structure, a merger or acquisition, a busy financial season—there are many reasons why a company may evaluate their needs for the CFO position. Qualified financial leadership is essential for keeping your organization headed in the right direction, but for many companies that leadership is increasingly coming from non-traditional roles. Enter: the freelance CFO.
A freelance or remote CFO is a finance team leader who can join an organization on a more variable or project-based structure than a traditional full-time employee. Though as experienced and qualified as a full-time CFO, a freelance hire offers more flexibility and significantly less overhead. Recent workforce studies estimate that the gig economy—or freelancers—will make up more than half of the labor pool in the next 10 years. This trend is influenced both by technology tools making remote work more seamless and a new generation of workers trending toward a more flexible workstyle.
As freelancers continue to make up a larger portion of the workforce, this momentum is influencing finance departments as well. We explore the benefits of this trend, important considerations for hiring a freelance CFO, and ways to effectively integrate this position into your organization.
Benefits of a Freelance CFO
Many business leaders find themselves considering a freelance CFO for both the practical and financial benefits. In terms of practicality, a freelance CFO can quickly add support during busy times or for key projects while also scaling down involvement during slow periods. This scalability can help save money on full-time hire while still keeping resources available. In addition, a freelance CFO can bring the fresh perspective of a newcomer while still integrating into day-to-day operations, offering a best-of-both-worlds approach.
In terms of financial benefits, a freelance CFO offers a clear cost benefit over their full-time counterparts. A full-time CFO is an expensive hire, including both salary and benefits, whereas a freelance or remote CFO is paid a flat hourly rate. If the workload allows for a freelance resource, hiring one can provide big savings.
Key Considerations for a Freelance CFO
While there are many benefits to hiring a freelance or remote CFO, these arrangements are not without their challenges, and it is important to have a clear understanding of the process.
First, you must be sure that a freelance or remote team member—of any type—will be a good fit for your organization. Not all companies have the communication strategy or the structure to incorporate non-traditional employees and it is important to know if a freelance CFO will be able to lead the finance team. For example, organizations that already have remote or freelance employees in place will be better better equipped to include a freelance team member in a leadership role. Additionally, companies that are accustomed to adjusting to seasonal or project-based staffing needs will be well-suited to freelance work arrangements.
In addition to organizational structure, a freelance CFO will work best in companies with variable finance needs rather than full-time support. Having a clear assessment of how your finance department works and the role a CFO would play is a key first step. Lastly, your organization will need to think through what they are looking for in a freelance CFO. Having a clear sense of expectations, competencies, and qualities of any prospective candidate will help simplify the hiring and onboarding process.
Before hiring and onboarding a freelance CFO, organizations must consider how this resource will integrate into the full-time team. Making plans for effective partnership and communication will drive efficiencies during busy periods. There are a few key steps to building a cohesive, non-traditional team:
Establish a communication cadence
Understanding the communication styles of your freelance CFO and your full-time organization helps build a strategy for how they will partner together. Whether it is daily calls, weekly video conferences, or a chat platform, ensuring both sides know how and when to be in touch will keep things running smoothly.
Deploy the right technology tools
An effective financial platform keeps your organization integrated and allows teams to engage in seamless remote work. The accessibility of these tools helps the freelance CFO merge into day-to-day operations and maintain connectivity with full-time teams. Both groups need to ensure full access and comprehensive training in all technology tools.
Ensure your full-time team understands the strategy
A CFO is only as effective as the team they partner with. Company leadership must ensure the full-time finance department understands how the freelance CFO will integrate into existing operations and lead the team. Promoting the strategic direction of the organization and the finance team will foster the success of the department and the freelance CFO.
For organizations exploring a freelance CFO hire, it is important to carefully consider how this person would fit into their organization and what types of candidates they want to look for. Having a clear strategy and goal for the role will save time and drive efficiency during the hiring and onboarding process.
Take the first step toward finding a skilled and qualified freelance CFO for your team by partnering with the Paro team. Our experts help identify the right resource for each organization and specialize in highly-skilled roles like CFOs. Connect today and learn how a freelance or remote CFO can help build your financial organization.