What you need to know about a virtual CFO

As your startup grows, it’s tempting to think you just need a finance manager to remove the financial burden and help you plan ahead.

And you do need that. But more often than not, you’ll need an experienced startup CFO on your side to really get where you want to go. 

That’s why we built our virtual CFO service (also known as a part-time CFO or CFO on call) to provide financial leadership without the in-house salary. Over the years, we’ve worked with many Australian startups, such as Chargefox, Effi, PokitPal and Prezzee to name just a few.

With efficient scalable processes, our startup clients lean on us for all their finance functions from bookkeeping, payroll and tax to financial modelling and valuations. This vertical integration supports our startup CFOs to deliver a true value-added service to clients. Here’s how it works.

How one-off support works

Sometimes you need CFO advice on the fly or for a specific activity, such as capital raising or investor relations. This is where experience really counts so it’s reassuring to know you can buy it when you need it for an hourly rate (although we’ll always try to give you a fixed-fee proposal so you know what to expect).

You’ll also need the full financial artillery to seal the deal, including financial modelling, projections, valuations and cap tables. We have set-price services for these too so you can forge on confidently with everything you need for those high level conversations, assessments and deals.

"The CFO service has been a massive help, including for capital raising. We needed a good financial model, financial accountability and a CFO who could come to Board meetings and talk numbers."

Effi Founder, Mandeep Sodhi Tweet

How ongoing CFO support works

Many of our startup clients choose our CFO Grow, Grow+ or Partner package as an ongoing service, sitting on top of our core bookkeeping service. Here’s what that means.

  • No more payment hassles we’re responsible for keeping your Xero accounts up to date, following up outstanding queries and unreconciled transactions.  
  • Staying on track – we’ll set weekly/fortnightly calls to check in with your financials together and keep things running smoothly.
  • Specialised financial analyst – to support the CFO in keeping everything moving and lean as required, including answering your Qs and visiting you on-site if needed.
  • Budgeting and modelling – with deep experience in SaaS, startup metrics and forward cashflows, we’ll make your budgets and financial models operational so you can see what’s happening and steer the ship where you want to go.
  • Monthly reporting – our team handles all the end-of-month activity, analysing actuals against budget and preparing financial reports for you and your Board.
  • An injection of CFO experience – into your operations and decision making. Depending on your CFO package, you’ll have from 4 hours/month up to 2 days/week with your tech and startup savvy CFO. We get involved in price-setting, operational and employee matters, and help you access funding from R&D tax and grants through to crowd funding and capital raising.

What a virtual CFO means for startups

Without sound financial management a business doesn’t usually last long. But successful startups are not just businesses. They’re fast-growing ones, which means financial management and leadership is essential to power your plans. 

For Victorian businesswoman, Kerin Haddon, that meant preparing her family owned waste management business for sale to an ASX-listed company.

“We needed someone to get us to the right level so we could realise the full value of our business,” Kerin said. 

“Standard Ledger introduced technology and reporting, professionalised our business and guided us through the entire exit process, from reaching out to prospective buyers to managing the negotiation and due diligence processes. We achieved an exit beyond what we’d ever hoped.”

For Public Sector Network (PSN), our CFO service has been crucial to global growth. In just six years, the research, events and training startup has become a successful company operating in four countries and setting up in a fifth. 

A NSW Government event run by Public Sector Network which is enjoying rapid business growth

"We wouldn't have been able to grow sustainably without it. First, it was about sitting down with our CFO to understand our business. Now, we talk at least a few times a week to check in with our financial model. We've also leant on the team to help us set up overseas."

PSN Co-founder, Charlie Hamer Tweet

Who you’ll work with 

You’ll get to know your CFO closely. Our team is led by our co-founders Remco Marcelis and Michael Budnow – experienced startup CFOs who each bring key specialisations to the team.

Remco’s time in venture capital and as a CFO and virtual CFO for startups has earned him the nickname of “cash hustler” for our clients. He’s also hands-on and clever at setting up and streamlining financial systems to drive operational efficiencies.

Michael is also an all-round CFO with comprehensive experience as well as specialised expertise in tax, preparing companies for IPO and capital raising.

Together, they have helped several clients expand overseas with financial planning, funding and setting up global payroll and employee onboarding. 

They’re joined by Thomas Worden, who has built finance functions for scaling companies and set them up from scratch. After earning his stripes at PwC, Thomas spread his wings to the private sector where he co-led the sale of Healius Limited to BGH Capital, helped Carbar scale and co-founded 361 Angel Club. 

But it’s not just about our CFOs. You’ll also get to know our financial analysts and modellers and, if you’re also using our bookkeeping or other services, our broader accounting team. With a strong team behind them, our CFOs are supported to support you – best.  

Remco Marcelis from Standard Ledger working with a female startup founder at a table with a laptop.

What to expect

Like any profession, CFOs and their support vary greatly. Typically, after the first three or four months of getting to know your business, you can expect a CFO to manage your finances and cashflow using standard chart metrics.

You can expect us to go well beyond that. We’ve built robust processes and systems to provide a unique level of added value, enabled by our knowledge and experience. That means you can lean on us for support in more areas, including:

  • Due diligence
  • Domestic and international tax structuring
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Legal structuring
  • Overseas expansion
  • Capital raising (we’ve helped clients raise almost $20 million)
  • Investor negotiations

Over the years, we’ve built relationships with angel investor networks and venture capital firms in Australia, and we bring these to bear for our clients as well, where we can.

Michael Budnow from Standard Ledger sitting on couches talking to two startup founders at a coworking space.

When’s the right time for a virtual CFO? 

How do you know when the time is right for a virtual CFO? There are usually two indicators.

  1. The first is pretty clear. You’re seeking investment or raising capital, whether it be from private investors or via equity crowdfunding or an accelerator. Startups often lean on us for this, more than once, such as Choovie, which we’ve supported with financial modelling, analysis and documentation for three separate capital raising activities.
  2. The second indicator is more of a feeling that you know you need help, but you’re not quite sure what with. You might be growing, but not as fast as you could be. You’re not strapped for cash but you don’t feel properly in control of your finances to see what’s coming and feel confident leaping forwards. 

Reach out

You can find out more about our virtual CFO service here, including prices.

It’s always good to talk too so please reach out if you’re looking into this. We’re here to chat – just choose a time that works for you. We’re looking forward to learning about your business.

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Thanks to RODNAE Productions on Pexels for the banner photo.

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