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The CFO Connection at 20: The Value of the Permanent Part-Time CFO

By Bob Thompson

This year, The CFO Connection celebrates 20 years of serving business customers with a model that has
proven its value: the permanent part-time CFO.

In 1999, I left my job of 14 years and took some time to reassess what I wanted to do. For my entire
career, I had been involved in finance and operations. The work was great, but what I noticed over time
was a tendency to get caught up in minutia and activities that added less and less value.

Companies don’t want a CFO to do payroll and manage transactions. These are important jobs – but
they should be executed by competent professionals within the finance organization, not the CFO.

Strategic thinking

The CFO is a strategic position. Companies want the CFO to help set the business agenda and then help
realize business goals by guiding mission-critical initiatives designed to follow through on the business
strategy.

It was my instinct that for small and mid-market companies, such strategic services could be delivered
on a permanent part-time basis.

The permanent aspect means that the CFO under this model is not an outside consultant but rather an
insider – a long-time employee of the company who understands the history and direction of the
business.

The part-time aspect is designed to focus the energies of the CFO. Working part of the time, the CFO in
this model knows that there is no time for wasting time. When permanent part-time CFOs from The CFO Connection are on the job, they’re focused on delivering value. Our customers get what they pay for.

Entrepreneurial instinct

Little of this was crystalized when I first dove in 20 years ago. What became a formal model was, as I say, more of an instinct than anything else – an entrepreneurial instinct. I wanted to see if I could help
customers grow.

My first customer was a regional bank. With this customer I did xyz. Along the way, I figured out the
proper way to balance the relationship – the amount of service I could deliver at a cost that worked for
me and the bank.

Eventually, I settled on the permanent part-time CFO model that defines The CFO Connection today.
Years ago, I started talking about the model on my website. Soon I began to get calls.
Some of the calls came from prospective customers. Still more came from other CFO-types – senior
finance people who had pondered a similar model and wanted to pick my brain.

Around the same period, while visiting France, I was discussing the model with a colleague when we
decided to Google the term “part-time CFO.” The CFO Connection was the top result. The model had
some interest.

National presence and a focus on value

I was 5 years into this new venture – offering permanent part-time CFO services – when I decided to
expand. The idea was to take on new CFOs, train them in the model, and support them as they served
companies across the country.

Our CFOs understand an important aspect of the model: the focus on delivering value. The value
customers get from The CFO Connection is measured in uncomplicated ways that get directly to the
issue – measures such as revenue growth, rates of expansion, and availability of working capital.
The focus, in other words, is on results. The part-time aspect of the model doesn’t mean half of the
results – it means more focused time on helping companies innovate and grow.
It’s a model that works – which is a big part of the reason The CFO Connection is still growing after 20
years. Today we have CFOs in Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Toronto – with customers as far away as Hawaii and Brazil.

Here’s to more years with more CFOs serving more customers!