What is the CFO role in the M&A process?

By Brad Buttermore
Managing Partner and Chief Financial Officer

The merger & acquisition process necessitates involvement of many professionals, especially the CFO, who, at the heart of the organization, manages cash flow, capital allocations, planning and budgeting, and many times, oversees growth and strategic planning at a high level.

With all the responsibilities assigned to the CFO, it is logical that he or she plays a key role in the M&A process — so much so that the CFO can be the difference between a successful or a problematic transaction. As CFO, you’ll be assessing if a deal makes good sense for your CEO and shareholders, whether you are on the buy side or sell side of a transaction.

There are several things to consider in an M&A transaction that go beyond price. Is there growth potential? Is the client base solid? Does the company have a good reputation with its customers and vendors? Do the companies share a vision or are they complementary in nature? Often, a CFO can detect if the numbers support the value offer presented in the transaction opportunity.

As CFO, you can expect to be a major player in answering such questions and in handling detailed transactional information such as looking at cash flow, tax implications, capital expenditures, liabilities, risks, compliance, etc.

Here are some things that come up in M&A deals that you’ll want to be sure that you or someone in your organization addresses:

  1. Culture: Can the two entities mesh their cultures? Are they similar? How will you address differing cultures? Which culture will be the dominant one and how will you integrate it to make all employees feel a part of the new combined team?
  2. Pre- and post-acquisition planning: Planning just can’t be underestimated. Are you prepared to address what needs to be done on the front-end of the transaction and what needs to be done afterward? Pre-planning could include self or seller due diligence, evaluating your risk profile as it pertains to workers’ compensation insurance, cleaning up the balance sheet and formulating a retention plan to help keep strategic personnel from leaving before or shortly after a closing. Post-planning needs to include an actionable integration plan and timeline for realizing operational and financial goals of the transaction.
  3. Relationships. The CFO and CEO must have a solid relationship built on trust for a successful M&A transaction, as these two people will be collaborating throughout the process.
  4. The M&A advisor works very closely with the CEO and perhaps even more closely with the CFO, where the advisor can help smooth out the stressful M&A process. Although an M&A advisor acts as a matchmaker, connecting a seller and a buyer, a professional M&A advisor has been down the M&A road countless times and will help the CFO keep the process on track to a successful closing with a deal that makes sense for everyone. The M&A professional can be relied upon to be a trusted advisor, assisting the CFO, wherever needed.


Capital Alliance Corporation is a Dallas-based investment banking firm with a four-decade history and deep operational and M&A experience across many sectors, including human resource management, upstream energy and energy infrastructure, among others. Capital Alliance is affiliated with Oaklins International, the world’s most experienced mid-market M&A advisor, with 800 professionals globally and dedicated industry teams in 40 countries worldwide. We have closed over 1,500 transactions in the past five years.