For many small to medium-sized businesses, outsourcing financial functions is a great way to stay on top of “money matters” while keeping costs down.

Without a detailed knowledge of accounting, though, it’s tough to figure out what level of financial service is best for your business.

If you’ve ever asked yourself questions like “What’s the difference between a CFO and a bookkeeper?” or “What does a company controller do?”, then keep reading. We’ve broken down the pros and cons of each to help you decide which outsourcing option is right for your business.

What Is a Bookkeeper?

Bookkeeping services are at the lower end of the financial service scale. They take care of all the basic, daily financial tasks that are necessary for a business to function.

A bookkeeper’s responsibilities include record keeping, bill paying, invoices, employee payroll, and tracking all of the transactions that take place within your company.

They work retroactively, having little to no input on business strategy.
If you only need someone to organize your financial records, manage daily payments, and make sure your business adheres to tax codes, a bookkeeper may be the right choice.

Outsourcing bookkeeping services can free up owners from paperwork while still giving them full control over the financial direction of their business.

What Is a Company Controller?

If you’re in need of slightly more financial help than a bookkeeper can provide, a company controller may have what you need. But what does a controller do?

A controller is responsible for managing all of the accounting functions in a business. This can mean supervising a team of clerks, bookkeepers, and accountants. In many small businesses, the company controller is the only certified public accountant (CPA) on the team.

Accounting controllers are considered mid-level financial managers. On top of the duties performed by bookkeepers, they are also able to make limited decisions regarding cash flow.

They may also maintain an updated budget, sign checks, and provide tax and financial advice to business owners. However, the main focus of a controller is on accounting. If your business needs more help with financial strategy, a CFO may be more beneficial.

What Is a CFO?

A Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is a high-level financial manager. While bookkeepers and accounting controllers work with past transactions, a CFO focuses on the future.

They may be responsible for tasks including:

  • Managing a major expansion into a new market
  • Improving profitability
  • Making investment decisions
  • Creating long-term strategies

A CFO digs deeper than the numbers themselves to determine why things work they way they do. This makes them highly useful as advisers in periods of major growth and transition.

Which One Is Best for Your Business?

If your business deals mainly with basic day-to-day cash flow, a bookkeeper may be all that you need. This tends to be the least expensive option and is appropriate for small businesses with few employees.

If you need more help with organization, detailed accounting, or team management, it may be best to outsource a company controller. They provide a high level of accounting support while still allowing you, as an owner, to direct financial strategy.

Once you’ve reached the level where you need help streamlining a full financial team or creating strategies for the future, it’s time to hire a CFO. This option is most beneficial if your business is facing high-risk, high-reward decisions. It’s also useful in times of transition that need long-term planning.

Whatever level of service you need, the AccFin Group is here to help. Please feel free to contact us for more information about outsourcing your financial functions.