From virtual CFOs to interim CFOs, SuperCFO always has someone for the job

By Sindhu Kashyaap|26th May 2017
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Mumbai-based SuperCFO aims to help businesses manage their CFO health and MIS.

“A CFO’s role in a startup is nothing short of that of superman’s. And the role just ends up getting more diverse as the organisation goes through different phases. You’re fighting and multi-tasking several things, and that is why SuperCFO,” says Bhairav Kothari, Founder and CEO of SuperCFO.

Headquartered in Mumbai, SuperCFO is a platform that helps SMEs and startups with CFO services. With its presence across Delhi, Bengaluru, and Singapore, SuperCFO operates with a core team of over 25 people who work as controllers, analysts, finance managers, and CFOs.

The team at SuperCFO.

Starting differently

In today’s world where startups are burgeoning every other day, there are several companies that are offering the services of a virtual CFO–be it Virtual CFO, MyCFO, or StartupCFO. These companies understand the fact that in the initial days, a startup cannot afford to hire a full-time CFO but at the same tome they do need the services of a CFO.

Bhairav started SuperCFO in January 2008, when startups weren’t as popular as they are today. After finishing his CA, Bhairav had the opportunity to either work for an MNC or a startup in the healthcare space. He says,

“I always wanted to do something unique and different. And I knew that while joining a young company wouldn’t give me the higher salary, it would give me experience and exposure.”

So after working for the company for nine years and seeing it grow, Bhairav decided to startup on his own. He got the idea of SuperCFO while working there. Instead of hiring a full-time CFO, his bosses had hired a consultant who came in a few days in a week. And since Bhairav had worked in outsourcing, he felt that the role of a CFO could be outsourced.

Building the market

Initially, Bhairav began with a small managerial team. He was the CFO himself, and worked as the touch point and the managerial team executed the tasks. This, he felt, brought in more efficiency and even did justice to the job at hand.

To hire the first CFO consultants, he posted an ad on Naukri and started a LinkedIn Group–SuperCFO. “Since LinkedIn and social media were relatively new at the time, I got the much-needed visibility without spending much,” adds Bhairav.

The CFOs themselves found it interesting, as they had to the opportunity to learn new things and work for however long they wanted to. The team got its clients largely through word-of-mouth and references.

The market today, Bhairav believes, is more mature than it was nine years ago. According to a report in The Business Standard, India approximately has about 48 million SMEs and one of the biggest challenges that most of these companies face is getting quality talent.

The workings

SuperCFO today offers a wide range of services, including virtual or part-time CFO services, where the engagements can be as low as half a day or a week or even four days a week; interim CFO services, where the assigned CFO helps a company on an interim basis to help a sudden exit or temporary project work.

SuperCFO also offers full-time CFO services and special projects CFO, for strategic needs like ERP migration, building budgets, five-year forecast plans or company financial health checks.

“We look at every aspect of finance–budgeting, audit, reconciliations, interacting with key stakeholders, strategy, and sometimes even finding talent,” says Bhairav. SuperCFO claims to have even helped Ola in its early days.

Different strokes for different folks

SuperCFO offers solutions according to the needs of a company. Bhairav adds that each company’s needs and requirements are unique. There are options of budgeting, forecasting, business planning, fundraising, or even a basic audit. “Sometimes we even help in building and running the MIS function every day,” says Bhairav.

He adds that SuperCFO is looking at the entire MIS process of budgeting, strategy, and accounting. The company works on three different models–project driven, retainer, and a fixed fee model.

The fee is determined by the complexity of the project. A good quality CFO health check could cost a company Rs 50,000. Detailed budgeting and financial forecasting could cost the company Rs 1.5 lakh.

“We have retainer engagement of CFOs starting as Rs 50,000 a month and even going up to Rs 1,00,00,000 per month,” adds Bhairav. It depends on the background, need, and experience.

In the past year, the team claims to have recorded a 35 percent revenue growth. “This year the focus will be on the Singapore business and focus on deeper MIS solutions,” adds Bhairav.

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