CFO’s Services – Highly Desirable for Accountants to Provide

Accounting Market Pulse (produced for the Commonwealth Bank) December 2015 edition identified that the main areas of expected growth for accountancy businesses over the period from 1st January 2016 to 30th June 2017 would be:

  • Business Advisory Services
  • Management Consulting

A key component of Business Advisory Services and Management Consulting Services is supplying a Virtual Chief Financial Officer Service to small/medium enterprise clients.

In various surveys produced over the last 15 years involving thousands of small/medium enterprise operators one of the continually identified services required by the SME market was related to Chief Financial Officer Services.

You might ask what are the duties of a Chief Financial Officer.  ESS BIZTOOLS analysed advertisements for Chief Financial Officers, Company Secretaries and Accountants over a six-month period and identified the key functions for a CFO in a Listed Public Company or major charity/not-for-profit organisation.

Many of the functions identified in this survey also apply to small/medium enterprises – especially SMEs wanting to grow and add value to their businesses.  Our analysis of Chief Financial Officer Services for small/medium enterprises concentrated on the functions which, we believe, will apply to an ambitious SME.  These functions include:

Financial Function:

  • lead, plan and direct the financial strategy of the business
  • management of financial and business services
  • cost to operate reviews on an ongoing basis

Commercial Functions:

  • information technology functions
  • human resources
  • treasury functions
  • risk management including commercial risks, insurance, awareness and registration where beneficial on the Personal Property Securities Register
  • effective cashflow management
  • working capital control relative to debtors, stock, work in progress and complementary reports such as debtors’ days outstanding, stock turn reports etc
  • bank relationships
  • government grants

Business Performance and Growth:

  • establish strategies and tactics for business growth and enhancement of shareholder value
  • identifying the characteristics of a well-run business and guiding your client to achieve those characteristics
  • awareness of survival tactics in difficult times for SMEs

Focus on Key Financial Data:

  • customers, people, growth and profitability targets
  • key performance indicators – ensuring all managers understand and are able to communicate variations from target to their team
  • benchmarking comparisons
  • management of administration, legal and company secretary functions
  • agendas, board report coordination (in conjunction with the chair for board meetings)
  • preparation of minutes of Board of Directors’ meetings
  • preparation of action plans from a Board of Directors’ meeting

Assist Management Team:

  • ongoing coaching and mentoring to ensure that the management team understand the financial reports being produced for them
  • ensuring that accurate prompt financial reports are prepared on a basis able to be understood by the management team
  • budgets using calculators such as Retail Prices Calculator, Professional Fees Calculator, Trades Charge Out Rates Calculator
  • cashflow forecasts
  • “what if calculations” on any aspect of the business’ operations – from my own experience as a Chief Financial Officer in a listed public company, being available to assist management with “what if” calculations was one of the most important aspects of the duties of being a CFO. In a listed public company the CEO has a whole range of experts to assist him/her in undertaking his/her duties.  The CEO of an SME does not normally have a range of experts to assist them yet, in my experience, they have just as many questions and problems on a daily basis, many of which could be referred to their accountant acting as CFO if he/she knows that the accounting firm understands this is part of the job description for a CFO role.
  • Research and development – ensuring that appropriate systems have been implemented for the identification of a research and development project, documentation of the time spent on expenditure on the research and development project, protection of intellectual property, monitoring in relation to potential patent application based on the research and development project and claiming the research and development taxation rebate.
  • investment readiness monitoring for each capital raising strategy that the business could utilise including:
  • section 708 capital raising
  • early-stage innovation company status for capital raising and taxation benefits for investors
  • the new crowdfunding equity raising that is expected to become law in the next few weeks.

The challenge for accountancy firms is to decide whether you will embrace this opportunity to perform a broader service role to assist your clients to grow their businesses and to add value to their business.

There is a lot of debate at present as to the future role of accountancy businesses.  There is no doubt in my mind that accountants must face up to the changing market conditions that are now evident.

According to the average accounting firm has 77.1% of its clients paying an average fee of $1,245 per annum.  I believe that the vast majority of that work would relate to wage earner/salary earner income tax returns.  This is the area of an accountancy firm’s business that is most suspect to being lost because of the changing systems at the Australian Taxation Office, competition and outsourcing.

I am not suggesting that you abandon the preparation of income tax returns but what you need to do is to face up to reality that a significant amount of the work that you currently do will not be available in the very near future and that now is the time that you should be making the commitment to proactively offer your business clients a wider range of professional services and one of the key new services is a virtual Chief Financial Officer Service.

With the technology and communications facilities that are now available you can literally service a client that is situated anywhere in Australia.  ESS BIZTOOLS has developed familiarisation packages and product packages to assist you to introduce this new range of services without you having to invest hundreds of hours in the development of systems.

ESS BIZTOOLS/ESS BASIP special Smart Start webinar program continues:

  • Thursday, 16th March 2017, 11:30am (AEST), 12:30pm (AEDT) “Understanding Potential Fee Slippage and Identifying New Opportunities”. Please click here to register for this webinar.
  • Wednesday, 29th March 2017 11:30am (AEST), 12:30pm (AEDT) “Improving Debtors’ Days Outstanding” guest presenter Damien Arena, Managing Director IODM (Innovative Online Debt Management). Please click here to register for this webinar.

You can download a complimentary copy of the ESS BIZTOOLS “Vision for the Future of Accountancy Businesses” below:

Access free material:



If you have any questions on any aspect of offering a Chief Financial Officer Service to your clients please do not hesitate to contact –


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Episode 101 – CFO’s Services – Highly Desirable for Accountants to Provide

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Peter Towers

The accountancy profession is changing… some would say quite dramatically, in that accountants are being continually advised to expand the range of services being offered to their SME clients, beyond the traditional income tax, corporate compliance and audit work“. Peter Towers, CEO ESS BIZTOOLS Click to download your free copy of “Surviving the Emerging Accounting Profession Challenge

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