Understanding the Cost of a Full-time CFO 

In the ever-evolving business environment, the decision to hire a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) full-time is a pivotal one. It ultimately involves a considerable financial commitment. A comprehensive analysis of data from four authoritative sources as of early 2024 sheds light on the financial implications of such a hire. 

According to Salary.com, the average salary for a CFO in the United States is reported to be $437,711. This number has a typical range spanning from $331,593 to $561,559. This price has significant variability influenced by factors like location, experience, and the specific demands of the employer. 

Further insights come from Glassdoor, which indicates an average CFO salary of approximately $208,000. This comes from the role’s lucrative nature but also the broad spectrum of compensation across various industries and regions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) offers a broader view of executive financial positions. They suggest an average annual wage of around $193,000, although this figure encompasses a wider range of financial executive roles beyond the CFO position. 

By aggregating these data points, we can calculate an average cost for hiring a full-time CFO. The combined average salary from these sources gives a more comprehensive understanding of the financial outlay businesses might expect when considering such a strategic hire. 

The calculated average salary for a full-time CFO, based on the data from these sources is approximately $246,619. This figure provides a nuanced understanding of the financial investment required to secure a CFO’s expertise full-time.

The Fractional CFO: A Cost-effective Alternative

A fractional CFO offers a strategic financial leadership solution for businesses that cannot justify the expense of a full-time CFO. Or maybe they do not require one on a full-time basis. Fractional CFOs provide their expertise on a part-time or project basis. This allows businesses to gain access to high-level financial guidance without the full-time price tag. 

The cost of hiring a fractional CFO varies widely based on the contract’s specifics, such as the number of hours, the complexity of the tasks, and the CFO’s experience level. Generally, businesses might expect to pay a fractional CFO $3,000 to $10,000 per month. This is all depending on the engagement’s scope and depth. This flexibility makes the fractional CFO a financially viable option for many businesses. 

Making the Right Choice for Your Business

The decision between hiring a full-time or fractional CFO should be based on several factors, including the size of your business, the complexity of your financial needs, and your growth stage. For startups and SMEs with limited financial resources or those not requiring a full-time CFO’s services, a fractional CFO can provide the necessary financial leadership and strategic planning at a fraction of the cost. On the other hand, larger organizations or those with complex financial operations and strategies may find that a full-time CFO is indispensable. At the end of the day it really comes down to what fits your business best.


In conclusion, while the investment in a full-time CFO is significant, it is justified for companies that require constant, high-level financial oversight and strategic planning. However, for many businesses, a fractional CFO presents a cost-effective solution that aligns with their financial capabilities and needs. By carefully assessing their financial situation and strategic goals, companies can choose the most appropriate financial leadership model, ensuring they receive the guidance necessary for financial success without overextending their resources.


To Read More about what a CFO is check out our other blog post: Should I Hire a CFO or a Controller?