The title of chief financial officer is certainly a coveted one, but it is arguably the most challenging of any of the C-suite positions. This is for good reason, since the CFO is typically involved not only in the day-to-day oversight of a company's cash flow and recordkeeping, but also in balancing those demands with long-term plans and advanced strategies. Therefore, it's no wonder that the median annual compensation for a CFO is more than $125,000, according to Payscale.com. Of course, this figure is often much higher when benefits and stock options are taken into account.
"Even with top talent and tech, optimizing finance remains a challenge."
CFOs in any industry are picked from the very top of the talent pool, so this high salary range is justified. Nonetheless, for a small startup that needs to achieve serious growth on a shoestring budget, that amount is a necessary but often anxiety-provoking expense. This is especially true when factoring in the costs of the supporting staff and systems every CFO needs to succeed. This often leaves small businesses operating on razor-thin margins from the very beginning. And since precise finance and accounting are always crucial, chief executives may feel stuck in a cost-benefit quagmire.
How the CFO role is changing
In an article from software vendor Tagetik, CFO Luigi Albini echoed others who have observed remarkable shifts in the demands of the modern CFO. As Albini put it, the best CFOs can no longer expect to bury their heads in the company's books and expect little more from their roles. Instead, CFOs must work even more closely with the rest of the C-team to plan and execute long-term forecasts and strategy.
This naturally opens an opportunity for routine duties like reporting to fall by the wayside. Modern technology and software promises to pick up the slack here, but these one-size-fits-all approaches leave much to be desired.
A survey conducted by CFO Magazine found that a vast majority (90 percent of respondents) of finance chiefs believe they are under-utilizing the mountains of data they now collect. Modern software has enabled finance teams to do more than ever, but even the best tech and the brightest minds can be overwhelmed when their executives are torn between two essential tasks.
Modern CFOs face a peculiar dilemma: The technology that was supposed to make their jobs easier is now turning into its own headache. Disparate accounting systems and reporting interfaces are all working like they should, crunching number after number, but delivering little added value. To leverage this data to actually drive the business forward, the finance team must first spend untold hours wrangling it all together, organizing it and actually making sense of it all. By the time they've got everything in one place, the company has either lost the competitive edge it hoped to gain, or dug itself into a hole of debt (sometimes both).
Solutions for a new era
Growing firms shouldn't have to shell out for expensive consulting contracts just to optimize their payments and reporting systems. At the same time, no CFO is superhuman, and these seemingly impossible tasks need to get done.
Increasingly, growth-stage companies are finding a third way out of this predicament by partnering with Consero. They provide both the people and processes to simplify the arduous process of consolidating financial data. From there, Consero gives CFOs the tools they need to obtain timely insights into their company's performance, giving them the confidence to sway investors and work closely with other executives on long-term strategy.
Consero recognizes that finance tech should make essential tasks easier and affordable, not one or the other. Contact Consero to learn more about how it can benefit your startup operations.