What is a Fractional CFO? Your Complete Guide
Tarmack LogoRequest a demo

Is Fractional CFO An Option For Your Business?

December 9, 2023 | Michael Warne

Is Fractional CFO An Option For Your Business?

Businesses follow a basic model: invest, create value, and earn returns. This cyclical process is the backbone of operations. Fractional CFO, or Chief Financial Officer, ensures the smooth flow of finances propelling the business toward its goals.

In the initial stages, startups often forgo a full-time CFO due to financial considerations. However, as they scale or undergo significant events like mergers, the necessity of a CFO becomes apparent. Despite their undeniable value, the potential financial burden associated with a CFO can pause startups, particularly when the need is temporary. CFOs, with their invaluable skills, can be an asset, but the financial commitment may pose challenges for startups.

What is a fractional CFO?

A fractional CFO, as the name implies, is a financial expert who collaborates with startups on a contractual basis. These part-time CFOs bring a wealth of previous CFO-level experience and are typically engaged to support startups temporarily.

Unlike full-time CFOs, fractional CFOs often work with multiple startups concurrently. While full-time CFOs are company employees with associated benefits and responsibilities, fractional CFOs provide specialized financial guidance to needy startups.

Why the concept has become popular?

A fractional CFO’s responsibilities vary, encompassing fundamental financial advice to extensive services like cash flow forecasting, bookkeeping, and business strategy development. They deliver these services to organizations through part-time, retainer, or contract arrangements. This arrangement allows companies to access the valuable experience and expertise of a top-tier CFO without incurring the in-house costs associated with a full-time CFO, including salary, benefits, and bonuses.

Recruit Anywhere In The World @ 10% Recruiting Fee!

Tarmack can help you recruit great talent anywhere in the world - at a fee starting at only 10% of candidates' annual salary! Our global recruiting service covers 100+ countries and all functions & experience levels.

Get Started

How does a Fractional CFO work?

A fractional CFO undertakes various vital functions for startups:

Financial Expertise

As the primary role, a fractional CFO manages the intricate financial processes of expanding startups. They provide a comprehensive understanding of financial reporting and accounting, navigating the complexities with expertise.

Strategic Optimization

Essential to strategy formulation, CFOs contribute significantly to optimizing business strategies. A fractional CFO evaluates strategies from a financial perspective, ensuring viability and proposing optimizations if needed.

System Implementation

With the growth of startups, efficient systems become crucial. Leveraging their extensive experience, fractional CFOs guide the implementation of new systems, foreseeing potential issues and ensuring a seamless integration without disrupting existing workflows.

Capital Raising

Expanding businesses often require additional capital. Fractional CFOs play a vital role in this process, valuing the company, engaging with potential investors, and handling post-deal paperwork and due diligence.

Audit Navigation

Growing businesses necessitate internal audits, sometimes mandated by law. Audits involve a detailed examination of financial health, including cash flow, procurement, taxation, and transactions. A fractional CFO, experienced in audit complexities, proves invaluable in guiding the company through this meticulous process.

Benefits of hiring a Fractional CFO

Cost Efficiency
Startups prioritize essential expenditures, and a fractional CFO aligns perfectly with this mindset. Acting as a CFO on-demand, they provide crucial expertise when needed, avoiding the permanent cost of an additional C-suite member.

Seasoned Experience
Fractional CFOs bring more than just financial and accounting skills; they are seasoned leaders with a wealth of boardroom experience. Their ability to navigate diverse business challenges stems from years of leadership, offering valuable insights into immediate and future scenarios.

Versatile Expertise
Managing multiple companies exposes fractional CFOs to a wide array of challenges across different industries. This diverse experience, both deep and broad, enhances their value, providing startups with insights and solutions cultivated in varied business landscapes.

Startup dynamics often change rapidly, and maintaining alignment among leadership is crucial. Fractional CFOs, acting as external consultants, offer flexibility. If the partnership doesn’t align with the founders’ vision or goals, a change can occur without the complications and financial implications associated with permanent hires.

Focused Support
Engaging a fractional CFO provides specialized support precisely when a startup needs it most. This allows founders to concentrate on immediate tasks, whether it’s navigating an audit, managing a merger or acquisition, or facilitating a capital raise.

Tarmack's Global Recruiting Services

Now you can easily hire & employ international talent anywhere across 150+ countries without opening international subsidiaries. Our global recruiting service covers 100+ countries and all functions & experience levels. So whether you're looking to hire talent in your own country or elsewhere, you're at the right place!

Get Started

Drawbacks of hiring a Fractional CFO

Limited Business Understanding
Due to their partial engagement, a fractional CFO may lack a profound comprehension of the company’s intricacies, potentially leading to generic or uninformed opinions. Exemplifying this highlights the importance of intimate involvement in understanding and planning for the complexities of a business.

Reduced Commitment Levels
With no long-term commitment, fractional CFOs might not develop the same level of investment and dedication to the teams and organizations they support. The absence of a career-on-the-line motivation could impact their involvement and responsiveness, particularly when facing challenging situations.

Reduced Focus
Working concurrently for multiple companies may result in a fractional CFO being less attuned to the specific needs of your company. Despite their efforts, the urgency of projects in different situations might divert their attention, potentially affecting the depth of focus on your company’s requirements.

Risk of Abrupt Departure
While some finance professionals balance multiple roles, others might readily transition to a full-time position if a compelling opportunity arises. This poses a risk of sudden departures without substantial notice, leaving the company in a vulnerable position if a competitor offers more lucrative terms.

How is the growing trend of remote work contributing to a higher demand for Fractional CFOs?

The rise in remote work has increased the demand for Fractional CFOs as businesses seek flexible financial expertise to navigate virtual operations and adapt to dynamic economic landscapes. Remote work necessitates agile financial strategies. Fractional CFOs offer on-demand support without the commitment of a full-time role, aligning with the evolving needs of organizations in the digital era. Our platform Tarmack has access to many world-class fractional CFOs and can help you recruit one anywhere in the world.


A fractional CFO brings valuable expertise to startups across diverse domains without imposing exorbitant costs. Hiring a fractional CFO provides access to top-tier proficiency for young startups without exorbitant expenses, creating a mutually beneficial arrangement. As startups grow, opting for a full-time CFO may become more practical, but for those navigating the initial stages, considering a fractional CFO is a strategic move.

A truly global HR platform with everything you need to build, grow & manage a global team.

  • bestTalentIdentifying & recruiting the best talent
  • payrollPayroll with full compliance across 100+ countries
  • agreementsEmployment agreements as per local laws
  • contractorContractor invoices & time management
  • onboardingSmooth remote onboarding of employees
  • immigrationImmigration & mobility services around the world
Find Out More