How to Find the Right Interim CFO

Whether you are raising capital, navigating significant growth, or managing the departure of your chief financial officer (CFO), there are times when a firm needs to bring in strategic financial expertise. 

An interim CFO is often the right answer. This article explains what an interim CFO is, when to hire one, and how to evaluate interim CFO candidates to find the right fit for your company’s needs. 

What is an interim CFO?

An interim CFO is a high-level financial expert who works on a consulting basis with your company for a defined period of time. The role of the interim CFO is to provide high-level financial direction for your company. He or she analyzes data, makes recommendations, implements a financial plan, and provides ongoing reporting back to you and your executive team. In addition, an interim CFO will also have day-to-day responsibilities during the length of their engagement with your company. 

When to hire an interim CFO

There can be a few scenarios in which it makes sense to hire an interim CFO. These include: 

  • Departure of a CFO. An interim CFO can fill in after the departure of a full-time CFO to provide stability and financial leadership during the search for a new CFO. 
  • During significant change or major initiatives. An interim CFO can provide much-needed financial leadership and expertise during a merger or acquisition, a period of restructuring, while raising capital, or while the business is undergoing a turnaround.  
  • Professionalization of a firm’s finance function. An interim CFO can also help to optimize financial processes or introduce new, upgraded financial systems. Such initiatives can support a period of rapid growth or change. 

A controller, supported by a small financial team, often handles day-to-day finance and accounting functions for many smaller businesses making $50 million or more in annual revenue. Many such firms may have reached a threshold where they need high-level financial guidance, but they do not have a CFO on staff. An interim CFO can provide the necessary skills and expertise for developing and implementing a financial strategy, conducting due diligence, conducting more accurate forecasting and budgeting, or aligning business and financial operations. 

How to hire an interim CFO

Finding the right interim CFO for your organization follows a similar evaluation process to finding a permanent CFO. Here are some key steps to consider: 

  • Clearly define the role. Begin your search for the right interim CFO by clearly defining the specific needs and requirements for the role. This should include business goals, the scope of responsibilities, and the duration of the engagement, if known. 
  • Evaluate for experience. Look for an interim CFO who has relevant experience in your industry or with similar organizations. Consider their past financial leadership expertise, including financial strategy, planning, risk management, reporting, and regulatory compliance. 
  • Consider skills and competencies. In addition to reviewing past experience to assess skills and abilities, look for strong problem-solving and communication skills. Ask about the interim CFO’s experience in working with financial software and tools. Additionally, factor in any professional affiliations or certifications a candidate holds. 
  • Assess availability and capacity. Ensure that your interim CFO candidate has availability that aligns with your needs. It’s in bounds to ask, too, whether they will be focusing solely on this engagement with your company or consulting for others to ensure your expectations are aligned with theirs. This will help determine their availability for meetings, day-to-day duties, and communications. 
  • Cost. Understanding how your interim CFO candidate will be compensated is essential. Ask about fee structure and amount, and how and when billing takes place. 
  • Check references. Ask for references from previous clients and employers. This will help you gain insight into a potential CFO’s reliability, professionalism, and ability to work with various stakeholders from team members to investors. 
  • Interview. Ask questions to determine fit, leadership and communication style, industry experience, and problem-solving skills. The right interim CFO will be knowledgeable about your industry, bring ideas and solutions, and have the financial expertise to drive success during the engagement. 

Not every interim CFO will be the right fit for your business and the goals of an engagement. Carefully evaluating potential candidates for skills, experience, style, and fit will help you make the right selection for your firm’s needs. 

Marren Consulting supports privately held businesses with strong financial leadership and accurate, relevant reporting—helping business owners and leaders identify opportunities to improve performance, unlock growth, and achieve their firm’s full potential.

Founded in 2013, Marren Consulting is led by Kim Marren, with decades of experience in Big Four public accounting, startups, and service industry businesses—and sharp problem-solving skills that apply to any business situation. Learn more at

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