Service Level Equivalent
Bronze (DIY Accounting) – Business whose owner is still doing the books, but wants to avoid major mistakes, pitfalls, or expensive tax preparation fees by having reasonable accounting. Quarterly review of bookkeeping and fixes.
Bronze+Software (DIY Accounting) – Business whose owner is still doing the books, but wants to avoid major mistakes, pitfalls, or expensive tax preparation fees. Includes monthly reviews of entries, fixes, and some software support.
Basic (Bookkeeper) – Business that has outgrown the owner doing the books, needing basic bookkeeping done right, the alternative being poorly kept books by office manager/administrative assistant. Highly transactional. Normally a Staff Accountant performs these services.
Silver (Accounting Manager) – The businesses is growing and the owner is thinking of hiring a dedicated accountant to produce GAAP level reports and perform tasks that a typical bookkeeper cannot perform. The Accounting Manager is responsible for all areas of accounting daily operations including A/P and A/R, cash receipts, general ledger, payroll, cash forecasting, revenue and expenditures variance analysis, management of administrative staff, preparation of monthly close, maintenance of fixed assets, interfacing with outsourced HR company, processing of quarterly sales tax, reconciliation of GL accounts, liaison to outside accounting firm and performs special projects as needed. Normally a CPA/CMA, plus five years of experience with the support of a staff accountant.
Gold (Controller) – Business that needs financial and cost analysis, cash flow management and the services of a Chief Financial Officer, but isn’t big enough to warrant a part-time CFO. The controller acts as the head of accounting, and oversees the preparation of financial reports, such as balance sheets and income statements. The controller’s responsibilities may also include compliance audits, monitoring internal controls, and analyzing financial data to varying degrees. At some companies, the controller will be involved in evaluating and selecting technology for use within the finance department or other related departments within the organization. Normally a CPA/CMA plus 10 years of experience, with the support of a staff accountant and accounting manager.
PLATINUM (Part-Time CFO) – Businesses need full financial and accounting services but don’t require the brand name of a Big 4 accounting firm. Services include in-person meetings with management team, board of directors, potential investors, coordinating annual audits, budgeting and forecasting, strategic planning, business valuation, risk management, and other high level financial services. A CFO can be a much-needed sounding board, and coach, or guide; can position the finance function as a competitive advantage; and can identify and manage a bookkeeper and controller to produce reliable data and interpret the results, providing insight to help steer the ship toward your stated goals. CPA/CMA with an MBA is ideal for role of a CFO. CPA alone wouldn’t cut it.
ELITE (CFO) – Business who have more need than the type of work perform by the Part-time CFO.
Comparison of Salaries
According to CFO.com, the average cash compensation for a CFO in a private company with less than $20 Million in annual revenue is $194,354. CFOs for private companies with $21-$99 Million in annual revenue make an average of $237,983 in base salary. (Private company CFOs make 45% less than those at public companies). Tack on benefits and bonus and you can expect to pay $225,000 to $275,000 depending on business size.
According to Ziprecuiter, the median compensation package for a small business controller is $85,499. The complete range of base salaries varies from $50,000 to $110,000 with influencing factors including company size and location.
According to Payscale, the median compensation package for an accounting manager is $70,425. The complete range of base salaries varies from $48,000 to $100,000 with influencing factors including company size and location.
According to Ziprecuiter, the median compensation package for a staff accountant is $54,731. The complete range of base salaries varies from $30,677 to $71,402 with influencing factors including company size and location.
According to Ziprecuiter, the median compensation package for a Bookkeeper is $42,425. The complete range of base salaries varies from $22,214 to $62,941 with influencing factors including company size and location.
If those numbers make you nervous, keep in mind that there are alternatives to in-house Bookkeeper, Staff Accountant, Accounting Manager, Controller and CFO. You can save up to hundreds of thousands of dollars by engaging with an outsourced CPA and Business Advisory firm.
THE QUALIFICATIONS OF GREAT CONTROLLERS & CFOS
Qualifications of both controllers and CFOs:
- Someone who can grow with you. This person has meaningful experience in your industry and in a company at your present and future growth stages.
- Someone who can show readily consumable (visual) and useful reports (w/sensitive data redacted).
- Someone who can demonstrate evidence that they have materially and positively influenced the CEO’s decision-making through identifying, interpreting, and evolving key metrics.
Qualifications specific to controllers:
- Someone with experience supervising multiple bookkeepers at the same time.
- Someone who can demonstrate evidence that they can play “up” or “down” in the role to handle some of the responsibilities of a CFO or bookkeeper.
- Someone who can talk through processes they’ve established or managed clearly. For instance, the monthly close process should be documented and comprehensive. Feel free to ask for a target close date of each monthly close and the last time the controller missed that date. Bonus points for evidence that the prospect has reduced the closing timeline.
Qualifications specific to CFOs:
- Someone who can demonstrate skillful oversight of a finance team.
- Someone who can show evidence that they can play “down” to the controller role. Look for some of the qualifications listed above.
- Someone who is capable of establishing great chemistry with the owner.
- Someone with great war stories. Ask for the financial performance of all companies for which the candidate has managed the finance team. Hopefully, these are all great stories, but bad stories should have logical, believable, explanations for the underperformance.
One of the qualifications we mentioned above which is common to CFOs and controllers is the ability to show visually appealing and useful reports.
In-Demand Technology Skills
- QuickBooks Online (Essentials, Plus and Advanced)
- QuickBooks Desktop (Pro, Premier and Accountant)
- QuickBooks Point of Sale
- QuickBooks Enterprise
- Sage 50 Desktop ((Pro, Premium and Quantum)
- Sage 50cloud
- Microsoft Dynamics
- Deltek Cost Point
- Deltek GCS Premier
- Sage Intact
- Foundation Software
- MRI Software
- Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate
- Sage 300cloud
- Dominion Payroll
- Human Resources Inc (HRi)