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When is the right time to hire an in-house CFO?

When is the right time to hire an in-house CFO? Discover the crucial role CFOs play in shaping a company's financial future. Learn about accounting considerations, managing and raising capital, and SaaS management to optimize spending.

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Alex Millar, CPA
October 11, 2023
When is the right time to hire an in-house CFO?

Understanding the Need for an In-house CFO

Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) play a critical role in shaping the financial future of companies. As startups grow, they often face the question of when to hire a CFO, then when to bring the financial expertise in-house on a full time basis. Addressing this gap in financial knowledge is crucial for startups to effectively manage their resources and navigate the challenges that come with scaling their operations.

Accounting Considerations for Hiring a CFO

When determining the right time to hire an in-house CFO, several accounting factors must be considered, including tax and regulatory complexities, revenue growth, and the nature of the business model.

Tax and regulatory complexities come into play as startups expand globally. Companies venturing into international markets face a myriad of challenges, such as varying tax laws and local regulations. An in-house CFO brings the local knowledge and expertise necessary to navigate these complexities and ensure compliance with local tax requirements.

The revenue growth threshold is another factor to consider. Typically, when a company's annual revenue surpasses a certain limit, often in the high millions, the complexity and necessity of a CFO increases. At this stage, the financial management of the business becomes more intricate, and the value of having an in-house CFO becomes more apparent.

Business model considerations are also crucial. For instance, startups operating in complex industries such as fintech or businesses with a high cost of capital face increased financial risks and demands for financial stewardship. In such cases, the expertise of an in-house CFO can be vital in managing these risks and ensuring the company's financial stability.

Managing and Raising Capital with an In-house CFO

An in-house CFO can play a crucial role in managing and raising capital for startups. Their expertise can be invaluable in evaluating capital paths, managing large capital raises, optimizing capital structures, and handling treasury management.

In the process of evaluating capital paths, an in-house CFO can help navigate the right capital strategy for the business stage, such as deciding between raising debt or equity. This strategic guidance can optimize the company's financial position and ensure the most suitable funding options are pursued.

When it comes to managing large capital raises, such as a $20M+ Series A round, an in-house CFO can ensure efficient capital management. Given the significant amount of capital involved, it is worthwhile to have a full-time expert overseeing the funds and making informed decisions on their allocation.

Capital structure optimization is another area where an in-house CFO can contribute significantly. They can help in selecting the right corporate structure, addressing factors like transfer pricing, cap table considerations, insurance, and risk mitigation for operations in different regions.

Finally, treasury management is an essential aspect of a CFO's role. If your business holds a large amount of cash in different currencies, an in-house CFO can optimize currency holdings and mitigate currency risks, ensuring that the company's financial health remains strong.

Leadership Responsibilities of an In-house CFO

An in-house CFO brings more than just financial expertise to a company. They also play a crucial role in leadership, providing shareholder support, bridging gaps between various levels of the organization, fostering finance team development, driving performance optimization, and managing the mental load of fractional CFOs.

An in-house CFO helps build shareholder support and confidence by demonstrating that the company has a knowledgeable expert overseeing its financial health. Their presence can reassure shareholders that the business is being managed responsibly and effectively.

The CFO also serves as a bridge between the c-suite/board and the rest of the organization, facilitating communication and ensuring that the company's financial strategies align with overall business objectives. This connection allows for better decision-making and more cohesive operations.

As a leader, the in-house CFO plays a vital role in finance team development. They provide support, training, and mentorship to help the team grow and enhance their capabilities, contributing to the overall success of the organization.

Driving performance optimization is another key aspect of an in-house CFO's role. They can identify areas for improvement within the company's financials and develop strategies to address these issues, ultimately leading to better financial performance.

Evaluating the Need for a Full-time CFO Based on ARR

Deciding whether to hire a full-time in-house CFO often depends on a company's annual recurring revenue (ARR). The threshold for hiring an in-house CFO can be determined by considering the spending concerns associated with a lower ARR and comparing fractional and in-house CFO options.

For startups with less than $1M in ARR, spending more than 20% of the revenue on an in-house CFO may not make financial sense. In this case, it is essential to weigh the benefits of having a full-time CFO against the costs, taking into account the company's growth prospects and financial management needs.

When comparing fractional and in-house CFO options, it is vital to consider the specific needs and circumstances of the business. While fractional CFOs can provide valuable financial expertise, they may not be as fully integrated into the company's operations as an in-house CFO. Additionally, an in-house CFO can offer more consistent financial leadership and be more readily available to address financial issues as they arise.

Ultimately, the decision to hire a full-time in-house CFO should be based on a thorough evaluation of the company's financial needs, growth expectations, and the potential value that an in-house CFO can bring to the organization. Otherwise, you may want to consider hiring a fractional or vCFO.

How Hudled Can Help with SaaS Management and Cost Reduction

One of the primary responsibilities of a CFO is to track expenses and manage SaaS resources. However, identifying saving opportunities in SaaS management can be challenging for a CFOs, especially when they have limited time and resources. This is where Hudled comes in.

By using Hudled, businesses can access a cost-effective solution without overhead. Instead of managing SaaS on a spreadsheet, startups can leverage Hudled's platform to optimize their SaaS spending and reduce costs effectively. To experience the benefits of using Hudled for your SaaS audit, get started for free and take control of your SaaS subscriptions today.

Written By

Alex Millar, CPA

CEO & Cofounder of Hudled. A platform for finance teams in growing companies to track and optimise their software stack

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