‘A seat at the table’
From Fortune 500 to small biz, CFO finds her niche
Virginia Business’ 2022 Virginia CFO of the Year award winners represent large and small businesses and large and small nonprofits.
Small business | Cynthia Macturk, CFO
Fahrenheit Advisors, Richmond
When Cynthia Macturk wants to consult with professional peers, she doesn’t have to go far.
“Here, I have an entire in-house network of wonderful CFOs,” says Macturk, chief financial officer of Fahrenheit Advisors in Richmond and the Virginia CFO of the Year winner in the small business category.
Fahrenheit, which had fewer than 90 employees at the end of 2021, now has nearly 130 consultants who work with business clients to provide help and expertise in areas such as finance, accounting, human resources and investment banking. About 50 of Fahrenheit’s consultants are CFOs, Macturk says.
Macturk joined a much smaller Fahrenheit in 2017. “I had used the company in the past … so I was familiar with their reputation,” she says. Still, the company’s growth during the past five years — it has more than tripled its consultant base and branched into new business areas — has been exciting.
She has worked with Fahrenheit’s leaders to manage that growth, a role she’s familiar with because she did the same thing earlier in her career when she was CFO for Monument Consulting, which grew steadily and was later sold to an Atlanta-based staffing company.
“I like to have a seat at the table,” she says, and Fahrenheit’s founders are happy to have her there.
“We were looking for someone to come in and put in a foundation for scalable growth and she has done that,” says Keith Middleton, co-managing partner and co-founder of Fahrenheit.
Macturk developed forecasting models that have been critical as the firm has grown. “That’s been a game changer,” he says.
In addition to her financial skills, Macturk “understands people,” Middleton says. “She’s an advocate for our employees … and lives our principles.”
The firm’s leaders joke that Macturk’s the general manager, Middleton says, because she knows the answer to almost any question. She oversees the company’s facilities and IT and has even stepped in to do some marketing work here and there. “She’s a good project manager and she definitely gives attention to details,” Middleton says.
For Macturk, the flexibility of working for a smaller company is gratifying: “I’m bringing with me the understanding of how an accounting department can run without being held back by corporate structure.”
She enjoys being part of the discussions about where Fahrenheit is headed, and what it’s going to try next. “It’s a very entrepreneurial spirit here, so we’re willing to try new things. … It’s okay if we fail.”
For instance, Fahrenheit sold its human resources advisory division to a competitor in 2016. Then, it turned around in 2020 and dove back into that area of business, and it has been “wildly successful,” Macturk says. “What I like here is that I’m able to weigh in on some of those decisions.”
As the financial nucleus for Fahrenheit, “my group is supporting all of the consultants in the field,” Macturk says. “We’re in the center of it.”
The pandemic, it seems, only intensified clients’ needs for temporary help and consulting guidance. “With this Great Resignation … they’ve turned to us to do some fractional or interim work.”
Macturk enjoys working with the rest of the Fahrenheit team. “Accounting can be very vanilla,” she says. “You do the same sort of things every month, or every quarter or every year.” But it’s much more interesting in a growing firm where the CFO can work with colleagues to solve problems and set up strategies for the future, she says.
Her career path started at Big Four accounting firm KPMG before she joined Capital One Financial Corp. as director of external reporting and then accounting manager. During her 11 years with Capital One, the company grew from about 1,700 employees to a Fortune 500 corporation with nearly 40,000 workers worldwide. She worked to establish an office in England and set up the credit card and banking company’s joint venture accounting in South Africa, all while managing more routine accounting duties at home.
“I really got to see the broader, bigger picture,” she says.
Read about Virginia Business’ 2022 CFO of the Year award winners: