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Financial Roles – Putting the Pieces Together

Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash

You Don’t Have to Do it Alone

It’s fairly apparent to most business owners that we are no longer in an economy where we can fly by the seat of our pants. The days of coasting are over (but really, never should have begun in the first place). There is simply too much volatility in the economy today, forcing business owners to take a new approach. Yet, financial uncertainty and doubt plague many of them. 

Business owners may understand their product or service down to the smallest detail, but the numbers never seem to add up (pun intended). That can be embarrassing for some, worrisome for others, and increasingly problematic for the company overall. For example, a business owner may reach out to me, as an outsourced CFO, thrilled to report that the business grossed $1 million last year. And while there is no doubt it’s an extraordinary milestone to hit, it’s not as significant if I also find out they didn’t pay themselves a salary or they accumulated too much debt during that same time period. It’s always about much more than what was brought in.

Bookkeepers, Accountants, CFOs … Oh My!

It doesn’t help matters that confusion abounds regarding the various professionals who can help business owners understand it all better. To some, the different financial roles can be as perplexing as the numbers themselves. Each one resembles a different piece of a puzzle (you may remember doing plenty of those to pass time during the pandemic). They must specifically fit with another in order to build a clear financial picture. There are no shortcuts, or alternative pieces, and the entire picture is only visible after all the pieces come together. But just like you distinguish puzzle pieces based on their edges, you can also distinguish these roles based on whether they are compliance or strategy based and if they are working in the past, present, or future.


When you think about bookkeepers, you should automatically think about compliance, standards, and “rules.” Bookkeepers deal with the present—the day-to-day activities of the company. A bookkeeper’s detail-oriented role is extremely important, as it provides the very foundation for much of the other financial roles. They are responsible for recording financial transactions that occur on a daily basis, such as sales and expenses. They also enter data and maintain accurate and up-to-date records, balance ledgers, and ensure invoices are paid on time. In other words, it is the bookkeeper who makes sure that all exchanges of money are logged and “accounted” for. 


People often confuse bookkeepers and accountants. But even while they are both compliance based and detail oriented, they are not the same (nor should they be). Accountants do not need to know every detail of the ledger and/or how the business functions. Rather, they prepare the financial statements and have a more in-depth understanding of the picture the numbers are painting. They review data presented by the bookkeeper and analyze profits and losses within the company. 

Chief Financial Officer (CFO) 

Enter the future! The real financial strategy and future planning of a company rests with the CFO, who is the one to get the company to the next phase—whatever that may be. They are always looking ahead. Yet, CFOs cannot effectively do their job without the data from the bookkeeper and accountant. The other difference between the CFO and other financial roles is that a CFO has business leadership experience and is able to extrapolate data presented to them. They will assist the business owner in evaluating future business opportunities, as well as potential risks, and are tasked with projecting future growth, so that the business owner can make more informed decisions going forward. By understanding a company’s strengths and weaknesses, the CFO can strategically guide the company toward tomorrow’s success. 

While this all may feel overwhelming to business owners, it doesn’t have to be. At Agile Planners, we take care of the numbers, so you can sleep at night. We provide strategic guidance and outsourced CFO services to companies of all sizes. We can help provide the strategy your organization needs for the growth you want. We understand that no two organizations are the same. And with our experience and financial knowledge, we can help develop the right strategic plan for your business to grow and reach its goals. Simply, we’ll be your trusted partner, so you can focus on running your organization. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.

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