The Ever-Evolving Role of Today’s Startup CFO

We’ve taken a look at the evolving role of the startup CFO and the pressing challenges you face today.

August 23, 2021


As a startup CFO, you can spend your entire day jumping from one challenge to the next. 

Your duties go beyond those of a ‘traditional’ CFO. You’re a key player in the strategic planning of how your business will move forward.

This means you’re not only expected to know your numbers back to front, you also need to know your business just as well as your CEO.

It’s undoubtedly exciting. But, with so many plates to keep spinning, it’s tough work too.

We speak to people like you every day and there are familiar challenges we hear time and again. So what are they? And how can you go about solving them?

Let’s take a look.

Being a startup CFO is a balancing act

In a recent Forbes interview, Melinda Whittington, CFO of the iconic furniture manufacturer La-Z-Boy, nicely summarised the dual nature of your role. 

“As the CFO, you have to keep an unwavering eye on the ‘must-dos’ – including excellent accounting and controls and cash management. Leveraging continuous improvement and technological enhancements, like robotic process automation, are imperative to improving efficiency and enabling resources to take on new challenges.” 

As Melinda points out, it’s a balancing act. 

You’ve got the day-to-day work – the tasks that simply have to be done. But you also have a pressing need to be strategic. 

And sometimes that’s the hardest part. Looking to the future and figuring out the right tools and processes that will help your company scale.

Software subscriptions & startup CFOs go hand in hand

Today, in the vast majority of tech companies, the challenge of scaling finance (and the wider business) is addressed through software subscriptions. 

So what does the ideal finance SaaS stack look like? 

That’s the million dollar question! But it’s one you’re probably well placed to answer. Because today’s CFO deals with a huge amount of software subscriptions. 

There are SaaS subscriptions for payroll, stock, expenses, payments, billing, bank relationships, treasury, analytics, financial planning, procurement…the list goes on. You also have to understand the relationships between all these tools. Can they integrate seamlessly to keep your data consistent?

Clearly, finding the right software subscriptions is now an essential part of being a finance leader. 

But it’s also a thankless task if the tools available to you just aren’t up to scratch.

The modern CFO needs better tools

The idea that finance leaders could be better served by your tech is a point expressed in another recent post by a16z.

The Californian venture fund agrees your role is more strategic than ever. 

The pandemic led to businesses making difficult decisions on resource allocation and cash flow planning. And “the person most critical in helping the CEO make those high-stakes calls – the CFO – is more vital than ever.”

But they also believe that the current CFO Suite doesn’t give you much of a helping hand when it comes to making the big calls. 

“None of these software products integrate with each other and none of the data flows from one product to another.” And that’s only in the finance team. “These products don’t connect to other key systems for sales, HR, and marketing functions.” 

Putting it plainly, finance tools haven’t kept pace with the demands of your role

The result? You and your team are left with inconsistent data, a mountain of manual tasks and have to chase your colleagues for invoices just to close the books every month.

In fact, in our recent survey, 3 in 5 respondents said SaaS admin stops them from doing more strategic work.

Software subscription admin stats

And that’s a waste. For you, and for your business. 

You can only deliver maximum full value if you have the time to focus on strategy and planning. Not manual, repetitive tasks. 

So, what’s the solution?

The future of the CFO Suite

We agree that the CFO Suite deserves an upgrade. 

You are more important to your business than ever. Your technology should reflect this. 

Why shouldn’t you be able to integrate the tools everyone in your business uses with your accounting tools? 

Why shouldn’t you spend less time on repetitive tasks that could be better spent elsewhere?

That's why we built Cledara. We were the first SaaS management platform integrated with Xero. And we also integrate with Gmail to automate your software subscription invoice collection and reconciliation. 

Because we want to free you to focus on the work that really matters. 

If you’d like to find out more about Cledara and how we help CFOs like you, check out some of our customer stories here.

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay informed on the latest SaaS insights

By clicking Sign Up you're confirming that you agree with our Terms and Conditions.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Get your budget under control with the Software Tracking Template

Take your first steps towards complete visibility and control over your company's software subscriptions.

Download now