What is the difference between a Virtual CFO and a Financial Controller and why to engage one?


There are two types of financial leadership roles in a business – Financial Controller and CFO. Both Financial Controllers and CFOs usually come from an accounting background and start off as accountants. They are not the same and neither of these is the same role as an Accountant.

Whilst some companies engage only one of them, others combine the two.  The roles are different and if your business has any significant size to it and is planning to grow, it is likely you will need both.

Let’s look at what the differences are between the two...

Virtual CFO   Financial Controller
Virtual CFO   Financial Controller
Analysis and Solutions   Accurate Reporting
Financing and Forecasting   Accounting and Reporting
Critical Key Indicators   Standard Formats
New Views   Existing status
Planning and Implementation   Budgeting
Big picture future vision   Reporting here and now
Functional focus   Financial focus
Transactions & Strategy    Implementation


What could an experienced Virtual CFO bring to my business?

Businesses that require strategic and financial guidance to steer their business through growth or change would benefit from engaging with a Virtual CFO as this individual can provide commercial and strategic guidance that may be lacking in the decision making level of your business.  

Corporate culture plays a big role in the type of CFO that suits your business. We encourage our CFO’s to work in the trenches so that they completely understand every facet of their clients business and can then look well beyond the numbers to draw conclusions and make recommendations that make a real difference to their business.  You should expect a CFO to have true commercial acumen, having dealt with many varied scenarios and bring a diverse set of skills to your business.  Industry expertise is helpful although not essential.  It helps in having a clear understanding of the common metrics that drive your industry sector, but this can be quickly learnt.  

Related: Do I need a Business Advisor of Virtual CFO? or Why a Virtual CFO is a great choice if you are a small to medium business?


Not quite ready for a CFO but ready for a deeper understanding of your business?
For many businesses the appointment of an internal Financial Controller is an impossible dream. It can be difficult to find the right person, the cost is prohibitive and the business is likely not of a size that warrants a full time resource. The Azure Group's Financial Controller can fill that gap. Our Financial Controllers work part time in your business  for as little as half a day a month to act as a bridge between your internal finance team and you.

By engaging a Financial Controller you can:

  • Gain independent and objective advice
  • Ensure rigorous and financial control over your accounting function
  • Engagement of a highly trained trusted advisor
  • Access to wider resources of the firm

Related: When is the right time to engage an Advisor for my Startup?

Have you noticed our #FridayExpertTips... here's one that relates to #COVID-19: Business Planning

"As a SMALL BUSINESS you might be missing the strategic advantage that comes with having a CFO. An experienced part-time Virtual CFO could be solution that helps accelerate your financial growth and business success."


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About Author

Azure Group
Azure Group

Azure Group is the leading Chartered Accounting, Business Advisory and Strategic Advisory firm supporting the growth & success of fast growing entrepreneurial businesses.

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