The Fractional CFO is a role that is well-known in the accounting world, but it is still gaining traction within other industries.  Hiring a fractional CFO offers the same level of experience and financial expertise as a traditional CFO but for a fraction of the cost.  

However, they are two distinct approaches to fulfilling a company’s financial leadership and strategic planning needs.


A full-time CFO plays a significant role in the company’s strategic decision-making, setting financial goals, and long-term planning.  A full-time CFO will not only oversee all financial aspects of the company, including financial reporting, budgeting, forecasting, and risk management, they will often serve on the strategic planning committee in order to weigh in on the ability of an organization to meet its strategic objectives from a financial stand-point. Additionally, the CFO is often part of the Senior leadership team within any organization.

Full-time CFOs also manage and lead a finance team, providing guidance and direction to ensure smooth financial operations.

In larger organizations, there will often be a controller who oversees the accounting, in addition to a financial planning team that performs the budgeting and controlling.  However, in smaller organizations, the finance team may consist of the CFO and one other individual.  Regardless of the size of the organization, the CFO manages the finance team and directs the tasks and goals of that team.

These CFOs often act as the primary financial liaison with stakeholders, including investors, board members, and regulatory authorities.  They is often part of the board of directors of any organization, and if they are not, they usually attend board meetings to report on the financial well-being of the organization.  In addition, the CFO is the first point of contact for investors and regulatory authorities.

While it is often ideal to have a full-time CFO employed within your organization, it is not always the most cost-effective approach.

Hiring a full-time CFO comes with significant costs, including a competitive salary, bonuses, benefits, and other perks.  Additionally, companies must consider overhead expenses including office space, equipment, and training.  Finally, employing a full-time CFO represents a long-term financial commitment, irrespective of the business’s current needs.


While a fractional CFO offers the same level of experience and expertise as a traditional, full-time CFO, there are some differences.  A fractional CFO offers strategic advice and financial expertise to the company, but their involvement may be more limited in day-to-day operations.  Fractional CFO’s often focus on specific projects or areas where their expertise is needed, including cash-flow issues, financial analysis, budgeting and forecasting, fundraising, or cost optimization.  Fractional CFO’s work with several clients, so he or she may only focus on your account once or twice a week depending on the nature of the engagement.  They may also be engaged on a part-time or temporary basis, making them a flexible solution for businesses with fluctuating financial needs.

Fractional CFO’s work closely with the existing finance team or in-house accountants and management, providing insights and recommendations to support decision-making.

They may even attend strategic planning or board meetings if necessary.  However, they do not manage the finance team in terms of human resource responsibilities.

Depending on the type of engagement with the Fractional CFO, fees will vary from a fixed, monthly fee to a project scope fee.  Monthly fees can vary from $500 a month to $5,000 per month depending on the needs of the business, their complexities, and the frequency of meetings with the CFO.  While $5,000 per month may seem like a lot, $60,000 per year compared to the minimum full-time CFO’s salary of $100,000 is significant savings for the company.  Furthermore, since fractional CFO’s typically work remotely, businesses don’t have to worry about providing office space or equipment.

Fractional CFO option offers a lot of flexibility.  Businesses can engage fractional CFOs for a specific period or project, or they have the option to change their engagements from quarterly to monthly if the business needs grow.


In summary, a traditional full-time CFO offers comprehensive financial leadership and plays a crucial role in shaping a company’s long-term financial strategy.  However, it comes with higher costs and a long-term commitment.

On the other hand, a fractional CFO provides targeted financial expertise, which may include long-term financial strategy and advice on specific projects or areas, offering flexibility and cost-effectiveness.  While they may not have the same level of immersion in the company’s day-to-day operations, they are an excellent option for businesses who do not have the need or budget for a full-time CFO but are seeking specialized financial guidance.  The choice between a traditional, full-time CFO and a fractional CFO ultimately depends on the business’s specific needs, budget, and long-term strategy.

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If you’re looking for CFO services, we need to talk! Feel encouraged to call or email me at cessie@alignedcpa.com or 386.752.4005.

Cessie Cothran, MBA

Combining the CFO Advisory with tax strategy creates the best opportunity for financial success. We like to call it being perfectly Aligned. Our clients know they have us as a partner, helping them to feel secure about their financial future.