Seeking financial advice? Can’t afford a full time CFO?

James Wheeler, Founder, Narrative Financial Management, LLC

This Company is providing affordable CFO services

At a Glance

Company – Narrative Financial Management, LLC

Founder – James Wheeler, MBA

Launch – 2017

Location – San Diego, CA


In today’s sharing economy, businesses are not just utilizing coworking spaces, they are also sharing senior level executives. All growing companies have to navigate a potentially overwhelming set of challenges; from capitalizing growth to building new processes to complying with an ever-growing compliance burden. Because of these and countless other challenges, growing companies guidance, leadership skills and experience that weren’t part of the company’s early stage.

While still in a growing stage the business owner/ CEO  may not be able to afford a full-time financial executive that is where James Wheeler, an experienced CFO and alumnus of UCSD comes in to help you.  Wheeler; started Narrative Financial Management in 2017 to provide fractional CFO services to growing companies in San Diego.

A Fractional CFO, as Wheeler describes is contracted to provide financial leadership, financial expertise, and financial credibility to companies who aren’t large enough to justify the expense of a full-time CFO.

In this model, an outsourced CFO may be hired to work on a specific financial project or may be engaged to provide oversight and advice through a longer period. An engagement may be complete upon completion of the project in one case, or the transition to full time/internal CFO in that latter case.

Outsourcing has made a powerful impact on the growth and productivity of early stage companies. This model helps the business owner to focus on generating income.

So, how does this model work?

Talking about the delivery model used by fraction CFOs, Wheeler says, I engage with a limited number of clients over a longer period of time: typically spending one day per week in their office, on an ongoing basis, as part of the engagement. I limit the number of clients I work with to no more than five. I don’t typically do project work, except to establish the engagement, although there are shops that do. The things my clients look to me to provide (financial leadership, financial expertise, and financial credibility) benefit tremendously from my delivery model, which allows me to apply what I know about a client’s industry to what I learn about the client during the course of our engagement.

Currently only serving companies in the San Diego region, “Narrative Financial Management specializes in service and technology companies with less than $50M in revenue. This describes many companies in San Diego’s unique economy. Again, service models vary. There are shops that provide “virtual” services. I have personally utilized distributed teams for accounting and other financial functions, but there is a lot of value to a face to face relationship between the fractional CFO and the CEO”, says Wheeler.

What is the right time to hire a part-time CFO?

For every company, the right time to outsource is different. Some businesses have in-house staff to handle daily activities, but may need outside help to undertake new projects, or navigate longer-term challenges, that don’t warrant another full-time employee.

By his experience, Wheeler lays down the following scenarios in which a company could benefit greatly from a fractional CFO.

  1. Company is growing. The fractional CFO can help a company get the capital it needs to grow by helping the company establish credibility through appropriate financial controls and reporting; expertise in navigating banking and/or investor relationships; and etc. The fractional CFO can also help the company establish best practices where old processes aren’t sufficient to keep up with growth.
  2. CEO questions efficacy of finance team. The fractional CFO can give the CEO peace of mind that his team, or replacement team where appropriate, are doing the right things at the right times.
  3. While in transition phase. Growth isn’t the only kind of transition to which a fractional CFO can add value. Turnarounds, liquidations, investments, divestitures, mergers, acquisitions, and other transactions or situations outside the normal course of business require unique skills and leadership that a fractional CFO can provide.

A CFO Outsourcing CFO services may be the most efficient way to bring this level of expertise to your business. More than a controller, a CFO provides a financially-oriented voice to the owner or CEO.

An experienced and qualified CFO who understands the dynamics of owner-managed businesses can help formulate and validate strategies for growth and viability. When the time comes to transition to an in-house financial officer, your outsourced CFO can train and smoothly pass over the reins.

When you outsource, you can focus your time, attention and resources on your company’s core competencies–and spend your time setting new goals and finding ways to achieve them.

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