Startup: CEO vs. CFO?

Yodaddy379's picture
Rank: Monkey | 46

Hey guys,

Was talking to a friend at a BB and he mentioned that, after your banking stint, you could be the CFO of a startup. My understanding is that this is because you'd understand capital structures, accounting, would know how to model, etc.

I think I'd love to work for a startup but am not convinced I'd like to be the CFO. Seems like the CEO is the one with the vision, who decides where the company's headed, and the CFO goes over how best to do X from a finance standpoint. Is this roughly right?

I'm sure it's tough to say but how hard would it be to go from BB banking-->CEO of a startup? Would the skills be helpful?

Seems like consulting would be a better background...

Thanks for the help,

Comments (13)

Dec 10, 2010

try consulting for CEO

Dec 10, 2010

Any startup that is small enough to hire a guy with two years experience to a C-level position is almost undoubtedly going to have the founder as CEO. If you want to be CEO of a start-up, then you're going to either need more experience, or you're going to have to actually start a company.

Dec 10, 2010

Would be very difficult after 2 years. Most hire guys who have years of experience in the industry and have started and sold companies and repeated that process.

Of course if you start your own company that's a different story. Even then if you try for VC funding - they will most likely try to replace you!

Best Response
Dec 10, 2010

Learn your shit, be versatile and able to do 'boring' tasks as well as the high level, learn how to motivate people and almost reach orgasm when working with you instead of wondering if a cfo is worse than the ceo. get your stuck up head out of your ass. its hard work running a startup, harder than any other job, and you either believe in your vision and know what your doing or joining the unemployed club after you burn through your angel round.

    • 2
Feb 8, 2011

After your analyst stint you're not qualified for either unless it is your company or extremely early.

If it is your company and you start as CEO, it is possible to scale with the company (Zuckerberg, Bill Gates etc.) because what you lack in management skills at the outset you can potentially make up for in vision and moral authority of the company. You definitely won't be able to scale as CFO. When the company reaches a certain size, your lack of experience will certainly catch up with you.

Feb 14, 2011

This is kind of an irrevelant question. If you are talking a true start up i.e. garage company then they will have little use for a cfo that makes 150k a year or more, and by the time the company is big enough to have a cfo that makes 150k a year you wont have enough experience. As far as the CEO goes the chances are even slimmer considering most startups keep the founder in as the CEO during the early growth and development stages where vision is important. Once the company reaches the size where the founder is no longer able to continue the job of CEO you wont have enough experience and your skill set will be far to specalized. Im not trying to darken your horizions im just being honest with you. If your in banking and you want to be involved in start ups VC is the best way to do that. While you wont be as hands on with the company as the CEO of CFO you will still get to imput ideas and see the company grow or die

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Feb 16, 2011

so basically this is eduardo vs. zuckerberg

Apr 21, 2011

hello monkeys!

so what if you are a startup looking for a part time CFO? What is the best way to go about this? I am currently running a 'startup' (not sure if i should call it a startup since it has netted revenues of over 1.5m$ in its first year),

but -- where should i go about it? And how best should i go about it?

(my company is based in singapore. so people in banking that is 'close by' would be ideal.)
*i thought WSO was the best place to post and look for people.

Apr 25, 2011

I'd say an accountant is more likely to have the time to devote to that than a banker, will probably come cheaper, and bring the core skillset you require

Apr 26, 2011

I'd say an accountant is more likely to have the time to devote to that than a banker, will probably come cheaper, and bring the core skillset you require


yeah, i actually do hire a professional accounting firm. we have gotten to the point of being very good friends. (she's the CPA and owns the accounting firm.) and she also was the key to assisting me getting exposure to her clients. (more pitches to make)

however, she owns a business and runs her accounting company. and also said that she could do DCFs, accounting stuffs, but not from a banker's perspective, or to present things like HOW a specific ratio or financial strategy would be available, and work for my business.

my impression is that. 'accountants' get you the data. the basic analysis. but bankers mold that data, ratios into something more comprehensive. a story, to give to banks and VCs and such.

May 21, 2011

Would a consulting background working with High Tech companies better prepare one to play a non-technical role at a start-up?

May 30, 2011

Let Me tell you something...I worked at the VC side for two years, Now I am in the PE level
During my working as a Venture Capitalists....we didn't give the least damn about who is who...We only cared about the founder as entrepreneur and his level of commitment and enthusiasm....because if we are going to burn some money in this venture, we will for sure do some restructuring and the CFO of "start up" is not that added value to your resume...
If you want my opinion continue in the BB banking and if you want to gain exposure to the start act as consultants to the start ups in you free time. But you should disclose that to your employer of course and have a written consent from him or her...

  • Anonymous Monkey
  •  Dec 8, 2015