What should be the going rate for a contract CFO? We are a $20mm Reseller organization with 60+ employees. Also, when is the right time to hire direct? Our contract CFO is reluctant to come on full-time.

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part time cfo


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Not sure I can answer the question about the going rate for contract CFOs, as there is a considerable range depending on the skills and experience you need, and, of course, the local supply/demand.

When is it time to hire direct? Hmm, I think if your present contract CFO is spending a majority of his/her professional time on your account, it might be time to seriously consider it.

Does your contract CFO give reasons why he/she does not wish to come on full-time? Those reasons might reflect more on what that person wants personally than on your organization, or on whether a full-time position is really appropriate. Might we worth pursuing that discussion further.

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The answer to your question depends in part on the scope of the role you are envisioning. I have long experience with businesses in your size range, and often the CFO at that level involves not only finance, but some combination of HR, Legal and Administrative services.

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As someone who runs a part-time consulting firm, you probably need a full-time CFO and a HR consultant.

Full time, because your doing $60 mil, and you should be having more than enough issues to warrant the full-time hours of a CFO (you already know you need a CFO).

Secondly, 60+ employees make you a mid-sized company and as such your company is not only subject to additional DOL rules, but 60+ people is probably a full-time position to handle just in itself; thus an HR professional to make sure your company is compliant.

As for the contract CFO not wanting a full-time gig, I can think of several reasons, from a decline in income to loss of freedom (perceived or reality). Loss of business and/or other opportunities (again perceived or reality).

I, unless that person has made concrete statements to the contrary would read that much into it.

Best of luck!

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I think Robert's response is on point. It really depends on what this person is doing. Is he/she doing legal, HR, Admin and Finance responsibilities? What do you really want this person to focus on? Strategic analysis, raising capital, or operational issues? How strong is the rest of the Finance organization?

I've seen contract rates between $150-$250/hr for SF Bay Area. But if you want this person to be able to do everything then the rate would be closer to $225 or above. I recommend you set goals or benchmarks up front and make sure he/she has the skill set and experience to be able to deliver on those objectives.

If this person is spending most of their time there, then it's time to hire FT. It's worth having the discussion as to the reason he/she doesn't want to come on FT. Is it because they don't want more hours, or don't want the FT employee commitment or is he/she perceiving a "fit" issue?

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I would think at your size you could use a full time CFO who would handle all administrative tasks. In addition, if you had a full time person they would be more involved with the business and your exec team would get the value of their guidance; as CFO the drop in my office moments were valuable for me and the team as well.

The contract rate depends on where you are located; if it is the Bay Area then $175 an hour and up; if you hire someone thru a rent a CFO firm the rate would be well north of $200 an hour.

Your contract CFO may not want a full time role for personal reasons (she likes the flexibility of contract work) and/or because she has other clients she serves that she does not want to give up. Regarding the latter comment, if she is receiving equity as well as cash from clients, having multiple clients diversifies her portfolio.

A discussion regarding her reluctance is certainly in order

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See 26 CFR 31.3121(d)1(b) "Corporate officers. Generally, an officer of a corporation is an employee of the corporation. However, an officer of a corporation who as such does not perform any services or performs only minor services and who neither receives nor is entitled to receive, directly or indirectly, any remuneration is considered not to be an employee of the corporation. A director of a corporation in his capacity as such is not an employee of the corporation."

And Joseph M. Grey Public Accountant, P.c.; 119 TC 121 (2002)

I'd love to hear other perspectives on this.