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The Data Hungry CFO

Most founding teams don’t usually include a battle tested CFO. The most common founder mix will cover sales and product development. One of those co-founders is usually charged with holding-the-fort financially for as long as possible. When the founders can finally afford a full time CFO, that CFO is often the final addition to the management team. 

Most CFOs arriving at a startup will find an accounting function running on Quickbooks or Xero. Companies have been known to get pretty large still using one of these systems. I’d bet there are businesses doing over $100mm still using Quickbooks. 

Financial reporting is obviously squarely in the CFO wheelhouse. However, less well understood is how far the growth CFO will reach into all other areas of the business. One of the key drivers of  operational success is the ability to filter, summarize and report data in an easily digestible format so it can be used to impact rational decision making at the operational coal-face. Without high quality, granular data, the sales process can’t improve and new features can’t be developed with any level of confidence. 

The growth CFO will work with all team leaders to find out where that data lives, design the user interface for how it gets presented and then make sure its part of the everyday decision making process. Those same key data drivers will be used to rebuild the financial model and the chart of accounts will be restructured so financial reporting of historic data, financial reporting of forecasted data and non-financial data are all working in sync and not living lives of their own.

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