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The role of a virtual CFO can vary depending on the needs of the business – which means that virtual CFO fees and rates can also vary. 

While fees for virtual CFO services are typically based on a monthly retainer, there are some situations where virtual CFOs or teams may charge hourly or on a project-by-project basis. 

To help you better understand virtual CFO fees, let’s break down average rates and common fees.

What are the average virtual CFO rates?

The average virtual CFO rates will depend on what an organization needs and its goals.  

If the needs are mostly accounting-related and the relationship is centered on a short-term engagement (to ensure books are clean, budgets are set and loaded into the financial system, and KPIs are set for key metrics such as profit, cash flow, working capital, etc), then a virtual CFO (most likely a Controller) might charge in the area of $2,500 – $3,200 a month.  

On the other hand, if an organization needs a true, strategic virtual CFO on an ongoing basis (to help drive performance, build forward-looking forecasts and strategic plans, and help coach existing accounting and finance team members), then the cost could be more in the $9,000 – $10,500 per month range.  

Speaking of organization team members, the amount and quality of an organization’s team and its ability to support and implement virtual CFO recommendations can also impact a virtual CFO’s rates.

Most virtual CFOs will want to engage with senior leadership to understand their needs and will request key financial documents to review before they provide an estimate. This is key to ensuring the organization receives a well-thought-through estimate to avoid scope surprises down the road. (Make sure you sign a mutual NDA before you provide any financial documents.)

What are typical virtual CFO fees?

The typical fees associated with virtual CFOs will vary based on what type of virtual CFO package or services the business would like to engage in. These fees could also vary based on whether or not you’re engaging with a full virtual CFO team/company or an individual virtual CFO who operates on their own.

  • Hourly Rate: All CFOs have an hourly rate and some charge simply by this rate. However, ensure there is an estimate of hours per month (even if it is a reasonable range) so that everyone is on the same page regarding expected expenditure.
  • Project Rate: Sometimes a company has a special project they need help with and this is where a project rate comes into play. A virtual CFO will estimate the number of hours by type of employee required to complete the project and create the project fee estimate based on this.
  • Retainer: When ongoing services are needed (accounting or strategic CFO services), a monthly retainer will be created, again based on hours the virtual CFO believes will be expended by each level of employee. 
  • Service Bundle: If a company needs both accounting and CFO services or several services related to value optimization for eventual exit or sale, a virtual CFO may create a bundle of these services at a slightly discounted rate.
  • Out of Scope Rates: Just like renovating a house, not every need or want is going to be thought of or voiced at the beginning. When this happens a virtual CFO will charge for those additional services at “out of scope” rates based on the individuals on their team that performed the work.

How to get started with virtual CFO services

A virtual CFO can provide your business with the financial knowledge and oversight that it needs to grow and succeed. But how do you go about deciding which virtual CFO services are right for you? Here are a few things to keep in mind:

First, make sure that the virtual CFO or team you hire has the relevant experience and qualifications. This person or team will be responsible for managing your company’s finances, so you want someone who knows what they’re doing.

Next, decide what type of services you need from your virtual CFO. Do you need help with bookkeeping and financial reporting? Or do you need more strategic advice on things like funding and growth planning? Once you know what you need, you can start to narrow down your choices.

Finally, take the time to interview multiple candidates. A virtual CFO is a big decision, so you want to be sure that you’re making the right choice. Ask each candidate about their experience, their qualifications, and their approach to financial management. Then, make your decision based on who you think will be the best fit for your company.

Want to keep reading? Check out a list of great questions to ask a CFO during an interview.