Why It’s a Bad Idea for CFOs to Do HR

Beyond balance sheets and income statements, a chief financial officer (CFO) wears many hats. Providing forecasts to help management make good decisions, overseeing compliance issues, and guiding the company’s financial strategies are their core responsibilities. While it might seem like a natural choice to leverage a very compliance and process-oriented CFO for HR, companies should think twice.

For all the strengths of a CFO, there are potential weaknesses to consider when reassigning workloads. Companies hire CFOs for their financial expertise, personal integrity, deep industry experience and strategic vision. The type of person that gravitates toward this role relishes in accuracy, trends and information. They tend to be very technical and independent with a very high learning index.

HR stands for Human Resources. The function completely revolves around PEOPLE. While a CFO might have some of the desired technical skills, HR requires someone who is comfortable talking to employees and empathetic to their concerns. They need to possess top notch interpersonal skills to help others navigate tricky conflicts. HR decisions aren’t always quantitative either. You need someone who understands the qualitative value of a change. There may not be a direct bottom line impact, but they know it will have a positive impact.

It’s easier for larger companies to respect this division of labor between CFO and HR roles. For smaller companies that need to keep overhead low, hiring two executives may not be feasible. Those companies should consider outsourcing their HR to a Professional Employer Organization (PEO). By working with a PEO, you get access to an entire team of HR specialists who provide guidance on HR best practices, anticipate compliance requirements and offer comprehensive, Fortune 500 quality benefits packages.

Not all PEOs, however, are created equal. In 2017, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced MidwestHR was qualified and listed as one of the first Certified Professional Employer Organizations (CPEOs) in the country. Dedicated to our clients, this new certification provides additional protections. Furthermore, unlike many other PEOs we don’t force our clients to buy service packages they don’t need. They can pick services a la carte and pay for exactly what they want. Give us a call to learn more about all the ways we can help.


The IRS does not endorse specific Certified Professional Employer Organizations. For more information, please visit www.irs.gov or our website at midwesthr.com.

Starting in the Professional Employer Organization industry 24 years ago, Char has been involved in almost every aspect of PEO services. In her role as the Managing Director of HR & Benefits at MidwestHR, she oversees all HR compliance and employee benefits in addition to managing retirement plans.