The widely-recognised term Virtual CFO stands for Virtual Chief Financial Officer (or 'VCFO'). A Virtual CFO is an ‘outsourced’ provider offering accounting and advisory assistance in the financial requirements of an organisation, broadly similar to what a Chief Financial Officer does for corporate entities.
Many progressive accountants offer this service on a part-time or project basis. At Spotlight Reporting, we call our ‘full package’ users (i.e. consumers of our three core products - Spotlight Reporting, Forecasting and Dashboards) SuperVCFO’s. Regardless of definition, these are the firms and accountants wanting to use their core skills beyond compliance to really move the needle.
The most obvious ‘low-hanging fruit’ service offering that Accountants can offer is advanced reporting. This is visualised reporting, analysis and quite possibly forecasting on a regular basis for the proactive delivery of advice and insight.
AccountingWeb’s survey of the Practice Excellence Award-winners in the UK, notes that;
“reporting tools [are] a great first step into business advisory services... the more numerate and tech-savvy clients get, the more receptive they will be to higher value advice.”
Providing useful numbers and analysis is not that far removed from the existing work that accountants do. By that, I mean the approach and functional processes are not dissimilar, even if the mindset required (insight, not hindsight) and usefulness of the outputs is a quantum leap from the norm.
Be Your Own SuperVCFO, First
For the SuperVCFO opportunity to be credible, I recommend that you start close to home. Be your own advisor and analyst, adopting your own KPI report and Action Plan using Spotlight. If you do that, not only will this give you focus but it will make your more accountable to desired outcomes.
Being your own SuperVCFO gives you experience and greater expertise in addition to credibility. By walking the walk, you will demonstrate to clients that you proficient and able to offer more than an accountant focussed just on annual compliance outputs.
Getting Started with Spotlight
The SuperVCFO opportunity is all about having:
- Learned and applied the relevant skills on your own practice
- The imagination to see it as an opportunity for clients
- Systems and software to support it; and
- The guts to do it – now!
The most important step is to take action. Spotlight Reporting is designed to be the door-opener, as Steph Hinds of Growthwise explains;
“Start now, it’s easy... start with 2 of your best clients, prepare a Spotlight Report – and just make it happen!”
As an alternative approach, offer a complimentary client review (CCR). I did this a number of times and Viv Brownrigg of The Gap – creator of a business development system for accounting firms – also advocates for a CCR as a great starting point to the advisory journey.