Changes in the way businesses operate have been fundamentally altered since the 2008 downturn, and these changes have set trends that have become a permanent fixture of how businesses are being structured moving into the future. As businesses become ever more focused on their core activities in order to survive, along with increases in costs, competition, fraud and complexity, many have moved to a model of utilising outsourced services to effectively manage their non-core business functions.
“It is clear the impact of the compliance and administration burden on business in South Africa is neutralising the entrepreneurial flair of a very important element of South Africa’s economy. Running your business should be fun with the focus on growing your business while spending as much time with your customers as possible,” says Louis Jordaan – Managing Director for ‘the cfo shop’, an outsourced finance and business support services company.
Recently a dynamic new service has emerged that allows companies to hire seasoned executives on a part-time basis instead of hiring a full-time employee, thereby reducing the administrative and regulatory burden and allowing entrepreneurs to focus on their core objectives. This gives large and small business’s the ability to “rent” a seasoned Chief Financial Officer or other Business Support Executive as an alternative to hiring a full-time employee that otherwise would require a significant annual salary compounded with the requirement for large bonuses and other perks.
“Cost plays a large factor in smaller businesses not having the financial expertise and mentorship they require in order to ensure more effective financial management. For many of these, having a dedicated and often costly CFO simply doesn’t fit into the budget, meaning many companies try to ‘wing it’ with their own, often inadequate, knowledge of business financial functioning. Utilising an ‘outsourced’ CFO allows companies to benefit from the services without the associated high costs,” explains Jordaan.
“Bankers and vendors are also more sophisticated than ever. They are looking for financial statements that look professional and that are compliant with the most recent Accounting Standards. An experienced part-time CFO will be able to not only present the company’s financial information in a professional manner, but will be able to assist the owner with opening doors to banks and better vendor terms. A highly skilled part-time CFO will add credibility to your business.”
Businesses are finding that there are numerous previously unrecognized benefits to outsourcing their CFO duties and as such the practice is picking up considerable adoption, especially overseas. One of the most noticeable benefits for business owners is the increase of available time; owners are freed up to spend more time with customers or in improving the company’s future. Additionally, the better financial information means better decision making.
“Most privately held companies have erroneous financial statements. It is dangerous for an owner of a company to make decisions, such as hiring new people, buying new computer systems, spending money on advertising campaigns, etc., if the financial information the owner is using is inaccurate. Bad financial information typically results in bad decisions. Bad decisions can kill companies. An experienced part-time CFO will have the skills necessary to help the company get correct financial information. This professional should also be a sounding board for key decision making,” explains Jordaan.
In the current business environment, security and fraud also pose a headache for business owners.
“It is shocking to see how many employees steal from employers. Many of the people that steal are in the accounting department. There is theft of money, inventory, customer lists, intellectual property and other company assets. A seasoned part-time CFO who visits the company’s office a few times each month will not only help establish tighter controls to deter theft, but their very presence should help decrease theft from company employees,”
In addition, a good part-time CFO will be a seasoned executive who mentors the existing accounting staff to do a better job. All these factors will ensure that, similar to using a payroll service or outsourcing a business network function, companies will pay for what they use, reducing the costs of hiring another body to fulfil the functions and will ensure the business gets value for their money.
“Remember that when looking for an outsourced CFO solution that the professional should generally have more than 20 years of experience. A quality CFO or Business Support Executive is a proactive professional who has a pervasive knowledge of things important for you to run your company properly. They will have the ability to address HR issues, sales and marketing issues and a host of things needed to help your company succeed.”
“A company, if it is to compete successfully, must have the owner spending most of his or her time with current and future customers. One thing is for sure, which does not change over time, and that is that someone is spending time with your current and future customers. If it is not you then it is your competition,” concludes Jordaan.