What’s the Cost of Hiring a Fractional CFO vs Full-Time?

Understanding the Concept of Fractional CFO Services

Running a business requires proper financial management, including bookkeeping and handling financials. However, not all sized businesses can afford to hire a full-time CFO to handle their finances. This is where fractional CFO services come in. These services provide financial expertise for a fee.

Fractional CFO services provide businesses with access to professional financial expertise without the expense of hiring a full-time finance professional. But what exactly are fractional CFO services and how do they help with bookkeeping and managing financials?

In simple terms, fractional CFO services refer to the outsourcing of financial responsibilities to an experienced financial advisor who works on a part-time basis. These advisors use various financial strategies and tools to ensure that businesses make sense of their financials and stay on track towards achieving their goals.

With the importance of financial management and bookkeeping for businesses, it’s no wonder that many entrepreneurs turn to part-time fractional CFOs for assistance with their finance and financials.

Full-time CFO vs Fractional CFO: Comparing the Cost

Understanding the Differences between Full-time and Fractional CFOs

A Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is responsible for making finance-related business decisions, managing a company’s financial operations, including accounting, budgeting, forecasting, and financial analysis. A full-time CFO is an employee who works on a permanent basis for a company and receives a salary. On the other hand, a fractional CFO is an outsourced part-time consultant who provides financial services to multiple clients.

Full-time CFOs are typically employed by large companies, including small businesses, with substantial revenue streams that require constant attention to their finances. They usually work in-house and have access to all of the company’s financial information, assisting with important business decisions. In contrast, fractional CFOs work remotely or on-site for several companies simultaneously, providing financial expertise and support on a part-time basis. These professionals can be a valuable asset for small businesses looking to manage their finances effectively while controlling costs, including salary expenses.

Cost Comparison between Full-time and Fractional CFOs

The cost of hiring a full-time CFO depends on several factors such as experience level, industry type, location, company size, and responsibilities in financial strategy. According to Glassdoor.com, the average salary of a full-time CFO in the United States ranges from $120k to $300k per year. Benefits such as health insurance coverage and 401(k) matching can add up to 30% more to their total compensation package in finance.

On the other hand, when it comes to financial strategy, hiring a fractional CFO is a cost-effective option. These professionals charge hourly rates for their expertise in finance. The rates can vary depending on their level of experience and salary expectations. Typically, the rates range from $150-$500 per hour. However, some highly experienced consultants may charge upwards of $1k per hour based on their reputation and industry recognition.

The cost difference between hiring a full-time CFO and outsourcing to a fractional CFO can be significant for small businesses. For instance, if you hire a full-time CFO at an annual salary of $200k plus benefits totaling 30%, it would cost you roughly $260k per year or about $22k per month. In contrast, if you outsource to a fractional CFO at an hourly rate of $250 for ten hours per week, it would cost you around $10k per month. This is where Punch Financial’s financial strategy can help.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Each Option

Hiring a full-time CFO can take your company’s financial operations to the next level. Their dedicated focus on your business and comprehensive financial insights can greatly benefit you. With real-time access to all financial information, they can make informed decisions quickly. This not only saves time but also eliminates the need for outsourcing and reduces costs. Additionally, having a full-time CFO means you have a dedicated professional who is solely focused on your company’s financial success, without the need to pay outsourced fees or worry about salary negotiations.

However, hiring full-time CFOs for small businesses can be costly due to their high salary and benefits. Additionally, if they are outsourced and unexpectedly leave, finding a replacement quickly can be challenging, affecting the punch financial of the company.

Outsourced fractional CFOs provide flexibility and scalability that full-time CFOs cannot match. They are ideal for small businesses or startups that do not require a full-time CFO but still need expert financial advice and a flexible salary. Fractional CFOs can work remotely or on-site as needed and can adjust their hours based on the client’s needs.

However, outsourced fractional CFOs may not have the same level of familiarity with your business as a full-time employee would. They may also have other clients that take up their time and attention, which could impact their salary and punch financial.

Factors Affecting the Cost of Hiring a Fractional CFO

Hiring an outsourced fractional CFO can be an excellent way for businesses to get the financial expertise they need without committing to a full-time hire. However, it’s important to understand that the salary cost of hiring an outsourced fractional CFO can vary depending on several factors.

Experience Level of the Fractional CFO

One of the most significant factors that affect the cost of hiring a fractional CFO is their experience level. The more experienced and qualified a part-time fractional CFO is, the higher their salary rates are likely to be. This is because highly experienced professionals bring more knowledge and expertise to your business, which can help you achieve better financial outcomes. Outsourced full-time CFOs may also have higher rates due to their extensive experience.

However, it’s essential to keep in mind that not all businesses require highly experienced part-time fractional CFOs. If your business has relatively straightforward financial needs, you may be able to save money by hiring someone with less experience on an outsourced basis.

Scope and Complexity of Work Required

Another critical factor that affects the cost of hiring a fractional CFO is the scope and complexity of work required, whether it is part time or full time. If your business needs extensive financial analysis or forecasting services, you can expect to pay more for these outsourced salary services.

On the other hand, if your business only needs a part-time house CFO or CFO advisor for basic bookkeeping or tax preparation services, you may be able to hire someone at a lower salary rate.

Time Commitment Needed from Fractional CFO

The salary for your outsourced fractional CFO will be influenced by the amount of time required. If your small business needs a full-time CFO, the rates will be higher compared to part-time hours.

It’s worth noting that many small businesses with fluctuating financial needs find it beneficial to hire part-time, outsourced fractional CFOs. These experts work on an as-needed basis, providing expert advice without the commitment of ongoing costs.

Comparison to Full-Time CFO

When considering the salary cost of hiring a full-time CFO for a small business, it’s worth comparing it to the cost of outsourcing a fractional CFO. In general, hiring a full-time CFO will be more expensive than outsourcing a fractional CFO.

This is because small businesses often choose to outsource certain roles, such as the CFO, to save on salary expenses. Full-time hires come with additional costs such as benefits, taxes, and office space. By contrast, outsourced fractional CFOs typically work remotely and are responsible for their own expenses.

Advantages of Hiring a Fractional CFO

Small and medium-sized businesses often struggle with managing their finances, especially when it comes to hiring a dedicated part-time or full-time CFO on a salaried basis. While having an outsourced CFO can be beneficial, it’s not always feasible for every company. This is where fractional CFOs come in.

Fractional CFOs are experienced financial professionals who work with multiple small business clients on a part-time basis. They provide outsourced salary services as a full-time CFO but at a fraction of the cost. Here are some advantages of hiring a fractional CFO for your small business.

Flexibility in terms of time commitment and cost structure

One of the biggest benefits of hiring a fractional CFO for your small business is the flexibility it offers. Unlike full-time employees, outsourced fractional CFOs work on an as-needed basis. This means you can hire them for specific projects or periods without committing to long-term contracts and without having to worry about managing their salary.

Outsourced fractional CFOs for small businesses usually charge by the hour or project, making it easier to manage your budget and cash flow compared to paying an annual salary and benefits package for a full-time employee.

Access to specialized expertise

Fractional CFOs, whether working with small businesses or part-time, offer outsourced financial management expertise. With their years of experience, they bring valuable insights into various industries. Their strategies can provide new perspectives on financial management. Whether full-time or part-time, these professionals can help businesses in ways that may not have been considered before.

Furthermore, CFO services can help identify areas where your business could improve financially and create solutions tailored specifically to your needs. This level of expertise is especially important for small businesses that may not have access to such resources otherwise. By utilizing an outsourced CFO service, you can benefit from the guidance and advice of a CFO advisor without the expense of a full-time salary.

Improved financial management without adding headcount

Hiring additional full-time staff can be expensive, especially for small businesses. By outsourcing a fractional CFO instead, you get all the benefits without adding headcount to your payroll and without the high salary costs.

This also means that you don’t have to worry about providing additional office space or equipment for your small business since the outsourced CFO service works remotely most of the time. It’s an efficient way to improve your financial management without incurring additional costs, as these CFO services can handle the tasks without requiring a full-time salary.

When to Consider Hiring a Fractional CFO

Rapid Business Growth or Expansion Plans

As your business grows, it’s essential to have an experienced CFO who can help you navigate the financial complexities that come with expansion. However, outsourcing a fractional CFO may be a more cost-effective solution for small and medium-sized businesses with budget constraints. This is where outsourced fractional CFOs come in.

Fractional CFOs are a cost-effective option for small businesses, as they offer outsourced financial planning and analysis services. They work part-time for multiple clients and can customize their arrangements to suit your specific needs. Hiring a fractional CFO can save you money on salary expenses.

If you’re a small business experiencing rapid growth or have plans for expansion, it may be time to consider outsourced hiring a fractional CFO. They can provide valuable insights into financial management, cash flow forecasting, risk management, and more, all while helping you manage your salary.

Need for Strategic Financial Planning

A fractional CFO can also help you develop and execute a strategic financial plan that aligns with your business goals. They can analyze your current financial situation and identify areas of improvement, such as reducing expenses or increasing revenue. Additionally, they can provide expertise on salary management and outsourced services.

With their expertise in finance and accounting, CFO advisors can provide recommendations on how to optimize cash flow, manage debt, and improve profitability. This level of strategic planning is essential for long-term success and sustainability. Outsourced CFO services or fractional CFO work can also offer these valuable insights.

Limited Budget for Hiring a Full-Time Employee

Hiring a full-time CFO for a small business can be expensive. According to Glassdoor.com, the average salary of an experienced outsourced CFO in the United States is over $200k per year. There are additional costs such as benefits packages, bonuses, taxes & contributions rates that add up quickly.

For many small businesses with limited budgets but still require professional financial advice from an experienced C-level executive like a Chief Financial Officer (CFO), outsourcing the salary of an interim or fractional CFO makes sense financially.

Fractional CFOS offer outsourced, cost-effective solutions without compromising quality services that meet the needs of small businesses by providing part-time support at competitive salary rates.

How to Choose the Right Fractional CFO for Your Business

Hiring an outsourced fractional CFO is an excellent way for small businesses to take advantage of financial strategy and expertise without having to bear the cost of hiring a full-time CFO. Fractional CFOs are financial professionals who work on a part-time or project basis, providing advice and assistance with financial reporting, forecasting, management, and strategy. But how do you choose the right outsourced fractional CFO for your business? Here are some factors to consider, such as salary.

Areas of Expertise Required by Your Business

When choosing an outsourced fractional CFO, it’s important to consider what areas of expertise your business needs. For example, if you need help with financial reporting and statements, look for someone with experience in accounting and a competitive salary. If you’re looking for more strategic financial advice, seek out someone with experience in finance team management or industry-specific knowledge.

Before beginning your search for outsourced CFO services, consider creating a list of the specific skills and expertise required by your business. This will help you narrow down potential candidates based on their qualifications and ensure that you find a CFO with the right salary.

Availability and Responsiveness to Your Needs

Outsourced fractional CFOs may work part-time or on a project basis, so it’s important to ensure that they have availability that aligns with your business needs. Consider discussing expected timelines for projects or tasks upfront to ensure that both parties have clear expectations regarding salary.

Responsiveness is crucial for small businesses when working with outsourced advisors or consultants. Ensure that potential fractional CFOs are communicative and available when needed by asking about their preferred communication methods (e.g., email vs phone) and response times. Additionally, it’s important to consider the salary of the outsourced advisor.

Compatibility With Your Company Culture

When hiring a professional advisor or consultant, it is crucial to consider their technical skills as well as their compatibility with your company culture. This is especially important for outsourced fractional CFOs who will be working closely with your team and leadership. Ensuring a good fit within your organization is essential for successful collaboration and optimizing salary management.

Consider conducting interviews or meetings before making a final decision to hire an outsourced CFO for your company’s CFO services. Ask questions about their working style, values, and how they approach collaboration and communication. It’s important to find someone who fits well within your company culture and can provide the desired salary.

Industry Experience

When choosing a fractional CFO, industry experience and outsourced salary are critical factors to consider. The financial needs of small businesses can vary significantly depending on the industry, so it’s important to find someone with experience in your specific field.

Consider asking potential candidates about their experience working with other businesses in your industry or if they have any relevant certifications or training in salary, CFO services, or outsourced CFO that demonstrates expertise in your field.

Data-Driven Insights

Finally, look for an outsourced fractional CFO who provides data-driven insights and recommendations. A good outsourced CFO should be able to analyze financial data and provide actionable insights that drive business growth and success.

Ask potential candidates about their approach to financial analysis and strategy development in the context of CFO services. Look for examples of past projects or clients where they have provided data-driven recommendations that led to positive outcomes as an outsourced CFO.

Other Types of CFOs: Controller vs CFO for Startups

There are various types of outsourced financial professionals available in the market. Two common types that businesses often consider are outsourced controllers and startup-focused outsourced CFOS. Each type has its unique advantages and disadvantages, depending on your business needs.

Differences between Controllers and Startup-focused CFOS

A controller is responsible for maintaining a company’s financial systems and overseeing accounting operations. They ensure that the company’s cash flow forecasts are accurate and that all financial transactions comply with regulatory requirements. With the help of outsourced CFO services, a controller can efficiently handle these responsibilities.

On the other hand, an outsourced startup-focused CFO is responsible for developing growth strategies, fundraising initiatives, managing cash flow, forecasting future revenue streams, and identifying potential risks to the business. They help companies establish financial systems that align with their goals and objectives while ensuring they have enough capital to support growth.

While both controllership and CFO services involve financial management tasks, they differ in terms of scope. Controllers focus more on maintaining existing systems while startup-focused CFOS concentrate on driving growth through strategic planning. However, some companies have opted to outsource these services to external providers to streamline their operations and reduce costs.

Which Type Is Best Suited for Your Business Needs?

The type of outsourced CFO you choose depends on your company’s current state, industry, key goals and objectives. If your business already has robust accounting systems in place but requires expert guidance on how to grow effectively or raise funds efficiently from investors or lenders then a startup-focused outsourced CFO may be best suited for your needs.

However, if you’re just starting out or require assistance with establishing solid accounting practices such as bookkeeping or tax compliance, it might be more beneficial to hire an outsourced CFO who can provide professional controller services.

Ultimately when deciding which type of CFO is right for your company, it’s essential to consider factors such as industry experience, skillset required by the role (e.g., finance vs strategy), budget constraints (full-time vs fractional), availability (on-site vs remote), as well as any additional resources needed like software systems or external advisors. This includes considering whether to hire an outsourced CFO.

The Cost of Hiring a Fractional CFO Compared to a Full-Time CFO

In conclusion, outsourcing a fractional CFO can be a cost-effective solution for businesses that cannot afford the salary and benefits of a full-time CFO. While the hourly rate of an outsourced fractional CFO may be higher than that of a full-time CFO, businesses only pay for the services they need. There are no hidden costs associated with outsourcing a fractional CFO, such as health insurance or retirement plans.

Factors affecting the cost of hiring an outsourced fractional CFO include the level of experience and expertise required, the number of hours needed per month, and the complexity of financial operations. It is important to consider these factors when selecting an outsourced fractional CFO to ensure that you are getting the best value for your money.

Hiring an outsourced fractional CFO has several advantages over hiring a full-time CFO. Outsourced fractional CFOs offer flexibility in terms of time commitment and can provide specialized expertise in specific areas such as fundraising or M&A transactions. They also bring an outside perspective and can help identify areas for improvement within your business.

Businesses should consider hiring a fractional CFO when they need financial guidance but do not require someone on staff full-time. This may include during periods of growth or when preparing for major financial decisions. Hiring a fractional CFO can provide businesses with the expertise and support they need, without the commitment of a full-time hire. Whether it’s navigating periods of growth or making important financial choices, a fractional CFO can help businesses make informed decisions and manage their finances effectively.

When choosing the right outsourced fractional CFO for your business, it is important to consider their experience and expertise in your industry, as well as their communication skills and ability to work with your team.

While there are other types of financial professionals available such as outsourced controllers or startup-specific CFOs, each option offers different levels of expertise and specialization.


1. How much does it cost to hire a fractional CFO?

The cost of hiring an outsourced fractional CFO varies depending on factors such as level of experience required and number of hours needed per month. However, businesses typically find that outsourcing a fractional CFO is more cost-effective than hiring a full-time employee due to only paying for services needed.

2. What are the advantages of hiring a fractional CFO?

Outsourced fractional CFOs offer flexibility in terms of time commitment, specialized expertise, and an outside perspective. They can also identify areas for improvement within your business and provide guidance during periods of growth or major financial decisions.

3. When should I consider hiring a fractional CFO?

Businesses should consider hiring a fractional CFO when they need financial guidance but do not require someone on staff full-time. This may include during periods of growth or when preparing for major financial decisions.

4. How do I choose the right fractional CFO for my business?

Consider their experience and expertise in your industry, as well as their communication skills and ability to work with your team when selecting an outsourced CFO for CFO services.

5. Are there hidden costs associated with hiring a fractional CFO?

No, businesses only pay for the services they need from an outsourced CFO and there are no hidden costs such as health insurance or retirement plans.

6. Can a fractional CFO provide fundraising support?

Yes, many fractional CFOs have experience in fundraising and can provide guidance throughout the process.

7. Do I still need an accountant if I hire a fractional CFO?

It is recommended to have both an accountant and a fractional CFO to ensure all aspects of your finances are covered.

8. How often will I work with my fractional CFO?

The frequency of outsourced CFO services varies depending on the needs of your business but typically ranges from several hours per month to several days per week.

9. Can a startup benefit from hiring a fractional CFO?

Yes, startups can benefit from hiring a startup-specific or generalist fractional CFO to provide financial guidance during early stages of growth.

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