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What keeps a CFO up at night?

Life Sciences Practice Leader, Charles River CFO

As a CFO, the work and worries never stop. It doesn’t matter if your company is privately held or public. If you’re a dedicated professional, certain items need to be tended to and you worry about making sure you're staying ahead. In my experiences, these are some of the areas that I found myself thinking about in the middle of the night.

What keeps CFO  up at night

Risk management/cash management

  • Are cash and investments safe from an asset protection standpoint?

  • Will cash be liquid when the organization needs it?

  • Are investments too risky for little investment return?

  • Are institutions insured and highly rated?

  • Is access to assets appropriately limited and accounted for?

  • Are insurance (General, Trial Insurance and Directors and Officers) levels right?

  • Are insurance policies even in place?


  • 409A valuations are needed to grant stock options, satisfy banking requirements, and assist in future financings.

  • Many flavors of 409A valuations exist. Ranging from electronic versions to the valuation that withstands an external audit firm, bankers, or the SEC in a public offering.

  • The time and effort increase exponentially depending on the version and complexity needed.

  • What is right for our firm?

  • How often should it be revisited?

Cash runway/liquidity

  • Do we have enough money to accomplish what needs to be accomplished?

  • When will the next milestone be reached to ensure an up-round?

  • Can the organization and investors handle a down-round (round at a lesser price than the last round)?

  • It takes six months to raise and document financings. Is the organization ready?

  • Have external lawyers, bankers, and accountants been lined up?

  • Is the seasonal timing right (summer and late fall financing can be tough)?

  • Have we corralled the right investors to meet today’s and tomorrow’s needs?

  • Will we need to right-size the organization to extend the runway?

Annual audits

  • Do we need a “Big 4” auditor and the associated fees if we never plan on going public or the public horizon is five years out?

  • Can we get by with an audit firm just outside the “Big 4” that has a national presence and would allow us to pivot to a public market?

  • Is our technical accounting in order for an audit?

  • Do we have memos to support the accounting positions we have taken?


  • Has the company filed all its fiduciary reports correctly and on time?

  • Have the consultant 1099-S all been issued?

  • Has the payroll provider properly filed employee payroll taxes?

Board presentations

  • How can I bring structure and organization to the board room, from reporting financial results to helping committees assist corporate governance?

  • What is needed to present to audit boards and to craft compensation with compensation committees?

Human Resources

  • Are we conducting annual salary reviews (benchmarking vs. comparative companies) using Radford and other sources?

  • Are our benefits competitive?

  • Are we controlling costs?

  • Are employees contributing enough or too much?

Managing up

  • What can I do to help our startup CEO set expectations?

  • Can we raise enough at the right valuation to accomplish the CEO’s long-term goals yet not over-dilute current investors?

  • Are projections and timelines realistic?

  • Can I keep the CEO out of trouble from over-committing and under-delivering?

  • How can I be a good listener and a sounding board when needed?

How can Charles River CFO help with the questions on your mind?

We are smart, nimble, and flexible. If you would like to discuss how Charles River CFO can assist your company with fractional or interim CFO and accounting services, please contact us at (781) 431-0420 or send us an email.


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