Bankers / CPAs / B2B CFOs – what’s the diff?

In my many meetings with owners of small and mid-sized companies I am often asked what how my services differ from those of a CPA or even a banker.  It’s a common question that deserves a good answer.

First let me tell you what I do as a B2B CFO partner.  In a nutshell I provide business owners with strategic and tactical financial advice about how to do three big things: (1) improve their cash flow, (2) improve profit margins, and (3) maximize the value of their businesses.  I work on-site on a part-time basis depending on the needs of the company.  I become a trusted advisor to the business owner.

I also help business owners create and implement a personal exit strategy that will enable them rest assured that they will be able to convert the equity they have built in their businesses into cash when the day comes to do so.

My support to any given owner may include such things as:

  • Creating strategic plans and budgets;
  • Ensuring the accuracy of documents that are to be given to a CPA;
  • Strengthening internal business controls and governance;
  • Preparation of forecasts, month-end reviews and other financial analyses as needed;
  • Getting a client ready for an external audit and/or for tax reporting
  • Finding sources of funds to help the company grow;
  • Helping a company expand into international markets;
  • Establishing strong working relationships with all internal and external constituents of a company

In doing my job I work closely with the company’s CPA and its bankers, investors and other interested parties.  The CPA plays an important role for the company as well.  But, unlike me, the CPA works off-site at an “arm’s length” distance.  Unless a CPA is paid to perform an internal audit of the company, (s)he uses documents provided by the company to create financial statements and tax returns.  The CPA may also recommend changes in a company’s accounting practices.  I work very closely with CPAs to ensure that a company’s financial statements are truly “bankable”.

Lastly, Bankers also provide substantial support and advice to business owners. Of course they want their clients to grow and become more valuable bank clients so they offer a range of services that are essential for business operations.  Besides professional advice on banking products and services they can also help business owners take advantage of technology to streamline the business / bank interface.  As with CPAs, bankers are also a key constituent for any company.   I help business owners present their best possible story to a bank when seeking a loan.

So, I hope you can see why having a CPA just isn’t enough, especially for dynamic growing businesses.

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