Cost of Part-time or Virtual Financial Controller

Cost of a Part-time or Virtual Financial Controller

Are you running your own business and struggling with the finances?  You would love to have your own financial controller but you can’t afford a full time one.

You have heard someone mention part-time financial controllers and that sounds interesting.  But you are still wondering how much a part time or virtual financial controller service would cost.

As with many of these questions, there is no simple answer.  It all depends on what you want from the service.

I have been working as a financial control for many years now.  I was a full time financial controller when I worked with the multinationals.  Since I went freelance, I have worked as a part-time financial controller for a large number of clients in a variety of businesses.

Providing financial controller services is a professional service and these are usually  priced based on the time input.  However, there are a number of different factors that influence the amount of time input.

When I meet with a potential client I will be trying to understand and evaluate their circumstances so that I can give them a proposal which is tailored to their situation.

The factors that I will be looking at will include the following

Existing Accounting Capability

How is your accounting function staffed and what level of skills are available to you?   Will we be recruiting new staff, developing existing staff or supervising existing staff?  How much can be delegated to in-house staff and how much will be left to the part time controller.

Accounting Systems

What sort of systems do you have?  Are these well implemented or do they need to be enhanced.  Are there standard routines or do we have to develop and install those routines?

Reporting/Analysis Requirements

What sort of reporting or analysis in required?  Is the infrastructure in place to provide this or does it have to be developed?  Has the potential client got a good handle on their revenues and costs?  Are they confident in their product or service costs?  Do they understand the reported profits or do they express surprise that the profits are not as expected?

Type of Stakeholders

What sort of stakeholder are in the business?  What requirements have they specified for reporting and analysis both in terms of frequency and detail?

Stage of the Business

At what point in the development cycle is the business. Is it a startup with external funding or plans to bring in external funding?  Is it a mature business with fairly steady sales and costs?

Challenges facing the business

What are the challenges facing the business?  Are profitability levels acceptable?   Are they undertaking any significant projects – new markets, new products, new processes, new facilities?

Once I have a good understanding to the current situation for the company, I will then start to work on defining what the desired situation should be.  As part of that we will set some goals – a mix of development goals and some maintenance goals.

Agreed Workplan for Outsourced FC Services

From that analysis, I will create a workplan which will determine the cost of the service.  This workplan will be presented to the potential client and discussed to come up with an agree workplan.

The level of work needed varies from company to company.  I have one company where I did a lot of work early on developing the staff and the systems and I now attend them about one half- day per quarter with additional time as they require for specific, clearly identified issues.

I have other clients where I am with them for two days per month.  These clients with a higher time requirement tend to be either dealing with some major issues or are still in the development stages of the business.

With good broadband, I can also work remotely.  This can be be very helpful if something crops up and it will only take a short time to resolve.  So a skype-type call will avoid travel time and can give the client the answer much more quickly.

Service Cost per month

In terms of cost, it can range from € 400-500 per quarter to maybe € 1500 per month but if the client requires greater inputs the cost will be greater.

From the client’s point of view, what they want to get from the service is the elimination of surprises, much improved understanding of their profitability, greater confidence when pricing for their customers and improved profitability.

To get a better understanding of how we work, feel free to browse through our blog articles.   I suggest this article,  “Understanding the nuts and bolts of accounting”, as a good starting place.

As always, if you have any comment or questions on this article, feel free to contact me by phone(086 2323525)  or by email at jim(at)accountsplus (dot) ie.

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