A typical interim CFO engagement is one where the client has a full-time CFO, but has an immediate need for a change. This could be due to performance issues or an unexpected resignation. In either case, the client needs someone to step in and manage the finances and staff during the transition to another full-time CFO.
These engagements have ranged from two days a week for a three month period, to full-time for six months.
My approach entails the following steps:
- Debrief the outgoing CFO to learn as much as I can, focusing on the most important aspects first. Because the relationship between the company and the outgoing CFO has effectively ended, I never know how much cooperation I will get. However, I’ve been successful in these transitions by treating the outgoing CFO with respect and professionalism.
- Meet with the staff to assess morale, listen to their concerns, and stabilize the department.
- Review all significant procedures to ensure they meet, or are brought up to, professional standards. This includes internal controls, compliance with legal and tax regulations, bank covenants, audits, regulatory reporting, etc.
- Meet with senior management to determine what changes in the finance and accounting area would benefit them in making business decisions.
- Examine and improve internal processes, focusing on how the department can add more value.
- Determine the appropriate staffing level to ensure that the department is running efficiently while meeting the needs of management.
- Assist in the search for and vetting of candidates for the CFO position.
- Manage the transition of responsibilities and leadership to the new CFO.