Why commercial CFOs are jumping ship to work with small businesses

Since joining CFO On-Call over a decade ago, Scott Goffage has enjoyed the thrill of helping scores of businesses to increase revenue streams and profit lines. But equally satisfying is the personal return his career change has delivered.

Scott Goffage

“I now get to take six to eight weeks holiday every year,” Scott said.

That’s an impressive increase on the fixed four weeks of annual leave he was permitted in previous full-time corporate sector roles. And while there are weeks when Scott works longer to exceed his clients’ expectations, he enjoys the direct engagement with those he’s helping and the chance to see his advice make a real difference.

“With good client communication and relationships, this role offers amazing flexibility,” Scott said.

“Not only can I take holidays when my family wants to, I can also work my schedule around the children so I don’t miss important events in their schooling and life.”

Based in Brisbane, Scott is a senior partner with CFO On-Call.

He joined the team in 2008 when the concept of businesses engaging freelance CFOs on a ‘needs basis’ was relatively new.

But the trendsetter has now become a stalwart with no plans to go anywhere.

“I’ve been with CFO On-Call for 11 years and while there’s been a few feelers, I have no desire to go back to full time work,” Scott said.

“When you work full time for a larger company, there are constraints and politics that can detract from your enjoyment of the role, making you spend part of your time doing tasks set from above that have little or no value to the business.

“Advising a range of different, smaller businesses, you have the freedom to understand the key issues in the business and tailor my own solution to meet those issues.”

Scott’s formula for success is based around understanding the client, building relationships and identifying ‘drivers’.

“Businesses either offer goods or services, and while the fundamentals of good financial management are generally consistent, the drivers change from business to business,” he said.

“That’s why you need to take the time initially to understand each business and identify those specific drivers. You then need to coach the client on understanding the impact of these drivers on their business and the importance of setting targets and reviewing performance against these targets.”

A passion for networking has also been key to Scott’s longevity. Much of his work results from cross-referral via contacts made at conferences and seminars.

“Some might argue that a full-time job is safer, but I disagree,” Scott said.

“Diversifying is always safer because if you lose one client, there’s still 10 or 12 others to provide regular work. But if you lose your full-time job, you are automatically unemployed.”

Having the backing of a successful brand like CFO On-Call has been pivotal to his success as a consultant.

“You start out facing the challenge of building a business and not knowing how long this will take. Having a strong brand like CFO on Call was so important to building my business. Over time you also build your own brand with your networks and clients and this also became very important to my ongoing success.

“The brand value, marketing support, internal communications and the national community of like-minded colleagues make the CFO On-Call relationship a very valuable one for me.”

As Scott’s client base has expanded beyond his home town, so too has his command of file sharing and communications technology.

Many of his sessions with clients based outside Brisbane, such as Outback Aussie Tours in Longreach, are conducted via Skype or Zoom. He interfaces with clients from the Sunshine Coast and Perth via the same tools, but is always available to meet them in person when the opportunity arises.

“We use screen sharing to go through and analyze the same spreadsheets and reports in real time,” explained Scott. “It’s just like you’re there with the client in person!”

The kind of instant accessibility made possible through technological advancements has seen the demand for Virtual CFOs like Scott grow rapidly over the past decade, particularly for remotely based businesses.

“It’s gratifying knowing that I can help business owners to reach their goals, when normally they might not have access to services like mine,” said Scott.

With partners and clients based all over Australia and New Zealand, CFO On-Call is currently seeking qualified Chief Financial Officers and Financial Directors to join its team to meet growing demands for Virtual CFO services. Click here to learn more.