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What does a CFO Actually Do?

Often, we get asked by friends, family and peers: What does a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) actually do?  These are frequently people that have known us for years, that we dine with regularly, share holidays with, stand at the side of the footy pitch with! Yet, they don’t fully understand exactly how we have spent our working lives dedicated to helping business owners to transform and scale their businesses. So, if the term “part-time CFO” is as alien to you as “UFO”, here’s what we do, in a nutshell:

Whilst a CFO is a qualified accountant, they also have decades of high-level commercial experience, quite often across many industries.

A CFO works alongside you as the business owner/CEO – giving you more time to work on the business instead of in it. The part-time CFO concept is tremendously cost effective as most CFOs pay for themselves with the cost savings they identify in your business.

 In a nutshell, a CFO will typically:
  • Help you strategize, plan and operate your business to maximise on cash, profitability and company value
  • Gain access to funding
  • Ensure you have a solid banking relationship
  • Become the custodian of your internal Finance function.
  • Work with your bookkeeper or Finance Officer and/or external Accountant.
  • Analyse results in the context of the company’s objectives and strategies.
  • Establish clear KPIs (measures that really matter)
  • Ensure you (the owner or CEO) understand the financials, the trends and the issues they identify
  • Assist in growth, expansion (including overseas) and exit strategies
  • Become a trusted sounding board and devil’s advocate

The need for a part-time CFO may appear earlier on your journey than you may expect.  For instance, you may have turnover of over $1million and are experiencing growing pains. Perhaps you would like to grow in a sustainable way, or improve the financial performance of your business. Either way, I would say it’s worth exploring how a CFO can help you in your business.

 The CFO Centre

The CFO Centre provides part-time CFOs to SMEs, so you get the experience of a high calibre CFO for a fraction of the cost of a full-time resource. Our CFOs have years of experience as a Senior Finance Executive or CFO for large corporations. They have extensive knowledge and experience to bring to your business.  In addition, with no lock in contracts, we can work with the needs of your business, providing our services 1-2 days a week to as little as one day a month.

As a global company, we have over 700 CFOs in 18 countries, so we really have seen it all!  Therefore, the benefit for you is that no matter what your needs, however complicated, you can tap into that global wealth of knowledge at no extra cost. It’s pretty powerful stuff.

Find out more or get in touch 0n 1300 447 740 or visit 

The 5 Key Threats to Australian Wineries


Baby boomer’s wine purchases will diminish as they continue to leave the workforce. Unfortunately, research indicates that younger consumers are not picking up the spending baton to replace boomer’s wine spending power. Thanks to high house prices, GFC career interruptions, the craft beer and spirit loving Generation X are more frugal and less engaged with wine. Wineries must engage more with younger customers…ignore them at your peril…they will soon outnumber boomers.



For smaller wineries, on-premise direct sales not only make up a large portion of sales, but are at a higher profit margin than wholesale sales. Additionally, on-premise activity is often where wine club members (similarly profitable) are recruited. Reduction in this activity from COVID travel restrictions will deal a disproportionately heavy financial blow. These sales will likely take years to recover to pre COVID levels. To remain viable wineries must compensate this financial loss.



Globalisation has peaked and countries are now becoming increasingly protective. Result is Australia – China geopolitical “trade war”. At risk for Australia is its largest wine export market, China, valued at $1.2billion or 42% of exports. By comparison, New Zealand’s biggest export market (USA) represents 32% of exports value (and interestingly China at 1%). Comparatively Australia is at high risk  from China trade tensions, but increasingly as countries become more protective there should not be an over reliance on any single country.  Wineries should review and balance geographic sales portfolios.



COVID has accelerated the use of e-commerce. The danger for smaller wineries is that the bigger players will increasingly dominate the off-premises e-commerce channels. Although these channels are not as profitable as direct to consumer channels, they should not be ignored. They balance the channel/mix risk, and it’s not clear now how they may develop. As e-commerce develop it is possible that separate channels may evolve that are better suited for smaller wineries. McKinsey believe that different partners will create “inter-connected service platforms” – in this context for wineries it could be partnering on a food or tourism platform. Wineries should monitor market development and enter into appropriate e-commerce sectors and platforms.



Increasingly, accelerated by COVID, and the underlying demographic shift, wine attitudes, values and tastes are definitely changing.

Tipple of choice: Total alcohol sales are little changed in USA, but craft beer and premium spirits are increasing. In Australia alcohol sales are generally declining with perhaps the exception being spirits. These trends are probably largely driven by younger consumers who see the attractive benefits in the cost advantage, brand personality, and ease of understanding and storing these drinks.

Ecological/sustainability: This is becoming increasingly important for consumers. Many wineries, including world leaders, are switching to organic or biodynamic practices.

Health: There does not appear (yet) to be a full blown health driven turn away from alcohol, with overall consumption trends being more driven by demographics change. But perhaps, as NZ is doing, researching and promoting lower alcohol wine may have merit.

Packaging: In USA, 2019, different research has shown decreases in standard 750ml wine bottles, but increases in 375ml, 500ml, 3 litres, premium bag-in-a-box, cans and Tetra Paks. These changes reflect preferences and lifestyles of the changing demographics. But COVID driven changes, e.g. increased food take-aways, may well accelerate these trends.

Community/Purpose: For younger consumers, helping and connecting with local community is an important consideration influencing buying decisions.

Wineries should not ignore these trends.  The impact on these trends need to be understood and dealt with accordingly. Practical hints to follow in part 2.

Gary Campbell is a Principal for the CFO Centre based in Victoria. He is a chartered accountant, an MBA, has a passion for wine, formal wine qualifications, and advises winery (and other sector) clients. See Gary’s profile here


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