What Does It Cost To Hire A Fractional Startup CFO?

Reading Time: 5 minutes
Share the Post:
What Does It Cost To Hire A Fractional Startup CFO?

Table of Contents

If your startup is hitting or crossing the $1 million mark, having a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is important. The debate is whether to go for a full-time or part-time CFO. Part-time CFOs, also called fractional CFOs, wear many hats, they advise, handle financial models, review monthly finances, adjust budgets, and take care of operational tasks. Figuring out the fractional CFO cost involves considering the experience, market conditions, and your startup’s specific needs. In this blog, we break down the pricing of hiring fractional CFO services to help you make smart financial decisions.

Fractional CFO Cost Structure 

Certainly, let’s break down the information into separate sections for hourly and monthly billing structures:

Hire Part-Time CFO

Part-time or fractional CFOs offer flexible billing options, either charging by the hour or with a fixed monthly rate. Hourly rates range from $250 to $400, while monthly costs typically involve dedicating one or more days per week to the client’s business, ranging from $8,000 to $16,000.

Hire Full-Time CFO

Hiring a full-time CFO can be expensive, with late-stage companies offering up to $400,000 base salary, a 50% bonus, and 0.8% equity for those with public company experience. Early-stage companies may spend between $250,000 to $400,000, and 0.6% to 1.25% equity. In comparison, a fractional CFO, capped at $16,000 per month, presents significant cost savings. Opting for a part-time professional, or even a VP of Finance at $200,000 to $300,000, becomes a more economical choice for early-stage companies.

Why Opt for a Fractional CFO?

Ever wondered why startups are increasingly turning to fractional CFOs? Picture this, a seasoned financial expert at your service, part-time, retainer, or on a contractual basis, offering executive-level financial wisdom without breaking the bank. The beauty of it? You can scale up or down as per your startup’s evolving needs.

Here’s what makes a fractional CFO a game-changer:

  • Streamlined Reporting: Bid farewell to bookkeeping headaches; fractional CFOs ensure your financial records are spot-on.
  • Expert Financial Projections: They excel at crafting and refining your startup’s financial forecasts and budgets.
  • Efficient Financial Operations: From setting up financial operations to choosing the right fintech tools, they ensure your business runs on scalable solutions, providing essential metrics for effective management.
  • Capital Raising Expertise: Need to secure venture capital? A seasoned finance professional takes the reins, managing the process seamlessly, including handling legal and negotiation duties for the CEO.
  • Enhanced Financial Infrastructure: The icing on the cake, fractional CFOs solidify and enhance your company’s financial foundation.

Are fractional CFOs your startup’s secret weapon to conquer financial hurdles, fuel growth, refine strategy, secure funding, or navigate audits? Their ultimate mission is to transform your metrics into actionable insights, empowering your management team to make strategic decisions with confidence.

When Should Your Startup Consider a Fractional CFO?

Curious about the perfect timing for bringing in a fractional CFO? If your startup is navigating the Seed and Series A-C phases, the moment might be now. Consider hiring one at least a quarter before a new fundraising round to ensure you have financial expertise in place during the intense fundraising period. Imagine having a seasoned finance professional dedicated to projections, KPI preparation, and handling financial reporting queries while you focus on securing funds. Their established relationships in the venture capital realm can be a game-changer, providing the CEO with a negotiation edge.

Wondering if your startup is ready for a CFO? Look out for these signs:

  • CEO Drowning in Financial Tasks: If your CEO finds themselves constantly immersed in financial reporting or projections.
  • Collaboration Overload: When the CEO and/or COO are deeply involved in collaborating with the sales team on multiple client contracts.
  • Accounting Overwhelm: If the CEO is overwhelmed with a barrage of accounting queries every week.

Is your startup contemplating a public debut in the next 12 to 18 months?

How Do You Hire a Fractional CFO? | Key Steps to Consider

Considering a fractional CFO for your business? Here are crucial questions and steps to guide your decision:

How Experienced is the CFO?

 Are you getting a seasoned CFO with decades of experience, or is it more of a bookkeeping role? Experience often aligns with cost, so understanding their expertise is vital.

What’s the CFO’s Response Time?

In the fast-paced business world, swift responses matter. Ask about the average response time for your business inquiries and requests.

Tax Consulting Services?

Does the CFO provide tax consulting and preparation services? Understanding the extent of their financial services is crucial for comprehensive support.

Request a Comprehensive Proposal

When engaging a firm, request a detailed proposal. At AquiferCFO fractional CFO Services, for instance, they review financials and provide a comprehensive proposal with recommendations, report examples, and forecast models to optimize your finance operations.

Research Firm and Professionals

Explore the fractional CFO firm’s website and LinkedIn profiles. Scrutinize their experience and, if necessary, delve into their resumes for a comprehensive understanding.

Scheduled Meetings

Establish regular meetings, be it weekly or monthly, for status updates and discussions on financials, forecasts, processes, and financial strategy.

Task and Project Updates

Inquire about their communication methods for keeping you informed about tasks and projects. Clarity on project tracking is essential for effective collaboration.

Assessment of Work Hours

Ask for an assessment of the number of hours worked quarterly and at least annually. This transparency ensures you are aware of the efforts invested in your business.

Bottom Line

Hiring a fractional CFO for your startup offers a strategic and cost-effective solution, especially when navigating critical growth phases and fundraising endeavors. Whether opting for hourly or monthly billing structures, the expertise of a seasoned CFO can streamline reporting, enhance financial projections, and fortify your business’s financial infrastructure. The cost comparison with full-time CFOs underscores the potential savings, making fractional CFOs an attractive choice for startups. 

If your company is at the Seed to Series A-C phase or experiencing signs like overwhelmed CEOs and collaboration overload, it might be the right time to consider a fractional CFO. The next step in optimizing your financial strategy is exploring AquiferCFO fractional CFO Services for comprehensive support. Visit AquiferCFO for more information and to kickstart your financial transformation journey.


Q: Why Is A CFO Crucial For Startups Crossing The $1 Million Mark?

Answer: A CFO becomes vital as startups grow, ensuring effective financial management and strategy implementation during critical phases.

Q: How Do Hourly Rates For Startup CFOs Vary?

Answer: Hourly rates range between $250 and $350, with negotiation possibilities. Top-tier CFOs may charge up to $400 per hour for specific projects.

Q: What Are The Advantages Of Opting For A Part-Time CFO Over A Full-Time CFO?

Answer: Part-time CFOs offer cost-effective solutions, wearing multiple hats, streamlining reporting, enhancing financial projections, and solidifying financial infrastructure.

Q: When Is The Ideal Time To Consider Hiring A Fractional CFO For A Startup?

Answer: For startups in the Seed and Series A-C phases, hiring a fractional CFO a quarter before a new fundraising round can optimize financial expertise during the crucial fundraising period.

Q: How Can A Startup Assess The Readiness For A CFO?

Answer: Signs include CEOs being overwhelmed with financial tasks, collaboration overload with the sales team, and frequent accounting queries. If considering a public debut in 12 to 18 months, it might be the right time.


Join our network of clients.