CPA vs. CFO – Serving Different Roles

cpa vs cfoAlthough complementary, the role of a CFO differs greatly from the role of a CPA for businesses.

While your CPA is highly qualified to provide accounting and tax advice, a CFO can provide the perspective necessary to help a Business Owner make all the high-level financial and business decisions necessary for planning and improving business performance and growth.

A forward-looking CFO can perform a number of tasks that fall beyond the scope of a CPA, including:

  • Long-range operational and sales planning
  • Providing an in-depth understanding of corporate finance
  • Budgeting and risk assessment
  • Working directly with executive team on business processes
  • Serving as a valuable strategic partner to the Business Owner, helping to guide the business to a stronger financial future

In short, the CPA’s critical role in any business is the accurate and timely reporting of financial information.  At the same time, the CFO’s role is to use such information to help shape the future of the business.

To help further illustrate the differences, please review the chart below prepared by Terry Weaver, CEO of Chief Executive Boards International.

CPACFO
Compiles financial statements from client-provided data.Uses financial statements to assess company’s performance trends and revising strategies to stay on course toward achieving corporate goals.
Works mostly in the past – from historical data.Plans, forecasts, budgets and projects the future financial performance of the company.
Delivers financials weeks or months after the close of the accounting period.Focuses on a clean, quick, and solid closing of the books within days of the end of the period.
Compiles financial statements in accordance with statutes and practices consistent with the type of business.Analyzes results in the context of the company’s objectives, strategies, and owners’ intent for the business.
Compiles financial statements that can be relied upon by 3rd parties, such as banks, creditors and investors.Works to maximize the value of the business to the owners, including investors, while remaining within loan covenants, creditor requirements, etc.
Simply provides the owner or CEO the financial statements as delivered.Makes certain the owner or CEO understands the financials, trends and the issues they identify.
Taxes and Audits — including mid-year tax planning, quarterly estimates, and appropriate posting of expenses.Helps a business strategize, plan and operate your business to your maximum financial advantage, within the law.

Contact us if you would like to learn more about how your business can benefit from our CFO Advisory Services, Part-Time CFO Services or to schedule a Free Consultation.