Chicago is a special city, steeped in history and tradition but on the cutting edge of technology and innovation. Situated in a geographic corridor that connects other Midwestern cities like Minneapolis and Milwaukee to Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Detroit, the business dynamics of Chicago are as diverse as its people. Many of these companies will benefit from a part-time or fractional CFO.

Chicago is Good Business

Haleh Fardi, Managing Partner and Co-founder of ProCFO Partners, calls Chicago home in part, she says, because “it’s good business.” She points to exciting businesses transforming technology and leadership, like tech incubator 1871, manufacturing incubator mHub, healthcare innovation community MATTER and the iconic Merchandise Mart. Chicago is truly a hub of exciting business activity, and for Haleh, “The people make all the difference. People are good people, and you can still make a deal on a handshake.”

Unique Business Challenges in Chicago Require Unique Business Leadership

Unlike some cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco or even Austin that are better known for a specific industry or niche, Chicago has an interesting blend of traditional and tipping-point. For every exciting start-up securing funding, there’s at least as many family businesses with sometimes hundreds of years of legacy ownership. This means financial leadership, including the CFO, has to have a strong grasp of the business climate in Chicago.

One of the reasons ProCFO Partners was founded in Chicago was out of respect for the legacy of institutionalized information that established companies in Chicago have, where they need support for long-term growth and vision. The right part-time CFO helps bring best practices into these organizations with a fresh, well-rounded approach.

On the other hand, up-and-coming companies, like some of the incubators mentioned previously, will seek financial advisors when ultimately, a CFO is the more essential strategic fit. A modern CFO helps create and drive strategy, build and nurture financial relationships, develop systems and processes and much more. helps business leaders take action on the right financial functions at the right times for the right reasons.

“The people in Chicago make all the difference. People are good people, and you can still make a deal on a handshake.”

The Advantage of a Part-Time CFO in Chicago

This is where the portfolio CFO, a part-time or Fractional CFO, can be especially valuable. For the older, family-run business looking to modernize and grow, a CFO with broad, well-rounded expertise helps bring new and diverse perspectives. As Haleh points out, “I’ve worked across 18 industries. I’ve worked across all stages of companies.” When considered across a network of CFO’s, like with ProCFO Partners, there’s virtually no situation or environment that’s unfamiliar.

Many start-ups, on the other hand, will benefit from a CFO that can imprint on the company, even its earliest stages. Some pitch decks, for example, aren’t compelling because they’re built on an abstract financial model some advisor got from somebody else. The right CFO will understand what’s compelling to investors and be able to help shape the message and meaning. The skillsets of today’s CFO go far beyond reporting on key performance indicators, and companies seeking venture capital or early stage funding will benefit from the innovative, strategic thinking that an experienced part-time CFO in Chicago possesses.

Finding The Right Part-Time CFO in Chicago For You

“Too many CFOs in Chicago speak in ‘variance analysis’,” Haleh laughs. “They answer a question about why the phone bill is higher with, ‘Because we added another line.’ The question should really be – why we focusing on the phone bill at all!?” In Chicago especially, it’s important for the CFO to bring depth, experience and expertise to see all sides of a financial issue in order to create a clearer path to sustainable success.

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