Fractional C-Suite Executives – Ahead of the Trend and Debunking the Myths

We were delighted to read a recent post by SHRM (formerly the Society of Human Resource Management) about how fractional execs are on the rise in C-suite positions. PBO Advisory Group has been providing fractional CFOs and fractional Chief People and HR Officers to clients for many years. While we don’t think of ourselves as trendy, the PBO Advisory team is happy to be at the forefront of this growing trend.

For those of you not yet familiar with the trend, fractional executives are high level professionals who work for a company on a less than full-time basis. At PBO Advisory, many of our employees work for companies as fractional C-suite level advisors. A fractional executive can work as many (or few) hours as the company needs, either onsite, offsite, or both.


Companies across the U.S. and beyond are learning what our clients have known for some time – the use of high-level fractional professionals is an excellent, cost-effective resource for organizations of all sizes. Our founder, Mike Ford, wrote this article for the Forbes Finance Council in February 2021 about the benefits of fractional CFOs, including:

  • Cost effectiveness – why pay a full-time salary when you only need part-time, high level assistance
  • High level focus – planning and positioning is where many fractional execs put their time and energy
  • Distinctive skills for unique projects – IPOs, M&As, government compliance, and other sophisticated events need specific expertise
  • Specialized industry knowledge and relationships – tap into expertise and connections you might not otherwise have access to or can afford
  • Mentoring and training of junior in-house employees – your team can learn from senior professionals who enjoy building and educating teams

The SHRM article cites many of Mike’s fractional executive benefits and adds that companies are getting high-quality talent at a fraction of the cost due to not paying benefits, and that these professionals are flexible as to their arrangements, can hit the ground running, and aren’t swayed by internal politics.

Myth Busting

SHRM also raises some risks and downsides to fractional professionals. With all due respect to our SHRM friends, we disagree.

  • Limited contact – FALSE! PBO Advisory’s fractional execs are always an email or phone call away. When they do take time off or are unavailable, there are others on our team ready to help.
  • Lack of clear direction and/or unwanted tension with full-time executives – FALSE! Our fractional CFOs and Chief People Officers have years of experience and can quickly determine where they are needed and how they can contribute. They also have held many fractional roles during their careers and know the ins and outs of successfully working with in-house teams.
  • Don’t rely on fractional execs if you have the resources and trajectory to support a full-time hire – SOMEWHAT FALSE. Fractional C-suite professionals shouldn’t take on the long-term role of a full-time exec if the organization’s need is immediate. However, they can take on the role on an interim basis until a finance or HR leader is found and brought up to speed, which can take months. They can also help with special projects and overflow work that require the highest level of skills.

We are excited that SHRM agrees with us: The use of fractional workers is trending and is a viable staffing solution for many organizations. If you want to explore the possibility of using a fractional professional, please reach out to us.

Michael LaMoureaux

Operations Manager