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The A-B-C’s of Accounting and Finance Staffing

Accounting and finance impact every area of your company, and the dynamics of accounting and finance becomes more complex as your business grows.

Filling the wrong positions or putting the wrong people in those positions will set your company back operationally and financially. Hiring the right financial leader can be transformative, changing your accounting and finance department from a cost enter to a value creator.

Though hiring the right accounting and finance professionals for your business will take time, they can yield growth and profits well beyond their annual salaries. So, it will be worth the effort.

A successful accounting executive search starts with knowing the position you need to fill, the skills that it demands, and the education and experience that it requires. Then you can achieve your goals by finding executives with the proper technical and cultural fit to move your organization forward.

Consider these differences between accounting and finance positions and when to enlist each.

Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

A CPA should be one of the first vendors that you hire. They will be very helpful from the start and be with you through every stage of your company’s journey.

What they do

  • Advise on business formation and development
  • Prepare tax returns
  • Create tax strategy
  • Provide compiled, reviewed, or audited financials for external parties
  • Serve as an external advisor and double check on your internal accounting team

What they need

  • At least five years of college education
  • Government-issued certification

When to hire one

  • When you start your business

Bookkeeper

You may be able to keep your books when you start your business. But you can only get the work, do the work, and manage the business for so long.

Eventually, you will have to hire a bookkeeper to track your finances, typically by the time you have $1 million in annual revenue. Then you can work on your business instead of working in your business.

What they do

  • Accounts Payable – Enter vendor invoices. Prepare checks for signature.
  • Accounts Receivable – Bill customers. Apply payments received.
  • Payroll – Process payroll.
  • Book-keeping – Will typically keep books on a cash basis (checkbook method).

What they need

  • No college degree is required.

When to hire one

  • The volume of transactions is more than you can handle as the business owner.

Accountant

A bookkeeper will typically suffice until you reach $5 million to $10 million in annual revenue. Then you will need to hire an accountant with more training and expertise who can handle the same responsibilities as a bookkeeper as well as more advanced duties.

What they do

  • Reconcile bank accounts and credit cards
  • Record journal entries
  • Close the books
  • Prepare financial statements
  • Keep books with accrual-based accounting

What they need

  • Bachelor’s degree in Accounting

When to hire

  • When looking to move to accrual-based accounting where revenues and expenses are recorded in the period incurred

Controller

A bookkeeper or accountant can do much but not everything as you grow. Once you hit $10 million to $20 million in annual revenue, you will likely need a Controller to manage your accounting and finance operations.

What they do

  • Supervise and review daily accounting activities
  • Establish internal controls
  • Manage cash
  • Prepare budget
  • Analyze financial information
  • Prepare records in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles

What they need

  • Bachelor’s degree in Accounting

When to hire

  • If accrual financial statements are required by a:
    • bank;
    • lender; or
    • investor

CFO

A chief financial officer is an executive-level hire. You will want one if you have external investors, perhaps as a publicly held, venture-capital-backed, or private equity-owned company. They also can help you transfer your company to a second generation, help you scale back your time in the business, or prepare for a sale.

You can hire a part-time fractional CFO, to help you grow from $5 million. Depending on how your company is owned, its growth plans, or exit strategy, you should typically start considering a full-time CFO when you reach $50 million in annual revenue.

Fractional CFO

What they do

  • Create a short-term strategy (next 12 months)
  • Develop key metrics and financial dashboard
  • Analyze financial information to improve profitability
  • Budget and forecast
  • Negotiate or renegotiate financing
  • Set up 401k plan, enhance employee benefits, renew insurance

What they need

  • Bachelor’s degree in Accounting or Finance
  • Master’s degree in Business Administration or CPA

When to hire

  • You want to establish a firm financial foundation upon which to grow
  • Company needs financing
  • External investors

Full-time CFO

What they do

  • Develop a future-focused strategy
  • Identify and negotiate funding
  • Handle relationships and communication with external partners (i.e. lenders, investors, audit, tax, insurance, major customers, and vendors)
  • Manage more than one functional area (i.e. accounting, finance, HR, IT, risk management, and investor relations)
  • Facilitate mergers and acquisitions (M&A)

What they need

  • Bachelor’s degree in Accounting or Finance
  • Master’s degree in Business Administration or CPA

When to hire

  • $50 million in annual revenue or sooner based on the complexity of your business

Without the right accounting and finance expertise, your company will likely reach a point where business growth has plateaued or is slowed, you will likely have lost profits, and lending and investment options can be limited.

However, with the right accounting and finance expertise and resources in place you will empower your business to execute on goals faster: reduce costs, improve profitability, and build enterprise value. Professionals with financial foresight and accounting expertise can support your business goals from planning through execution.

Transform your accounting and finance department from a cost center into a profit center. Grow your company efficiently by hiring the right talent through a successful executive search. Start with your A-B-C-s.

Do you want to identify, vet and hire the perfect person for your business? Combining our deep industry knowledge, accounting and finance expertise, and consultative approach, ROARK can help you identify the right structure for your company. Our Executive search services can get you the right hire, the first time. With no cost to you until you hire and the longest guarantees in the industry, we do it the right way and win together!

Contact us today to learn more.

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