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The rise of the finance freelancer

August 4, 2021, 10:00 AM UTC

Good morning,

The future of work amid a talent war means incorporating independent workers into finance teams, Eric Dutcher, CFO at MBO Partners, told me.

“Just within a week of going in the organization, I deployed an independent contractor,” says Dutcher, who began his role last month. “I’m actually building my own virtual workbench of workers that I will be bringing up to do various projects, really in two-week sprints, as the opportunities come up, or as we have the bandwidth for that particular project.”

MBO Partners CFO Eric Dutcher/Courtesy of MBO Partners

MBO Partners’ clients include tech companies like Cisco, HP, and Salesforce. Its job platform connects independent contractors and freelancers with enterprise organizations offering work assignments and handles workplace compliance and payment. The private company based in Ashburn, Virginia, is led by CEO Miles Everson. It was founded in 1996 and has 37% year-over-year quarterly growth. It has 155 employees and uses a labor pool of independent workers as well, according to the company.

Hiring independent contractors is a strategic approach for finance departments, Dutcher says. “If you look at finance organization, about 50% of what we do on a daily basis is kind of the same stuff,” he says. “But the rest is really project work. So, why don’t we build project teams around it using independent workers? We know that in one month we’re going to be doing a forecast. Why don’t we have a forecast group of independent workers that we’ve already vetted and put into the talent pool?”

“We have to scale fast,” Dutcher says, “And what that means is, I can’t add a lot of permanent headcounts.” Workers to fill these positions “can be independent contractors that I either have built from my own network or are available on the MBO Partners network,” he says. 

“I think there is a place for permanent workers,” to handle daily responsibilities that are needed and unchanging, Dutcher says. “The message is not that you want to make everybody an independent,” he explains. “The message is, let’s look at the two types of work.” His department will include some permanent employees along with independent contractors, he says.

And speaking of the future of work, digital nomads—location-independent, technology-enabled employees—are becoming the norm, according to a recent report by MBO Partners and Emergent Research. The number of Americans who define themselves as digital nomads increased from 7.3 million in 2019 to 10.9 million in 2020, the report found. Traditionally, these were independent workers. “But the 2020 nomad surge was driven by people with traditional jobs,” the authors wrote in a Harvard Business Review article about the research. 

Along with talent management, another objective in Dutcher’s new job is a push for real-time data. “At my core, I’m a data person,” he says. “I think we should be constantly pushing ourselves towards more metrics like monthly active users, daily active users, really just on things that show real-time connection, rather than longer-term, end-of-month readouts,” he says. 

He cites his own fascination with Indiana Jones as a driver. “Today, I still have that in me because I am digging for treasures within consumer information that helps me drive the organization as a finance leader,” Dutcher says. “So, in the end, I’m doing what I love. It just happens to be with numbers and without a trusty hat.”


See you tomorrow.

Sheryl Estrada
sheryl.estrada@fortune.com

Big deal

VMware, Inc., an American cloud computing and virtualization technology company, released its Global Incident Response Threat Report: Manipulating Reality, which found a rise in sophisticated cyber attacks. Cybercriminals are also taking advantage of the acceleration of cloud technology amid the pandemic. About 43% of survey respondents said more than a third of attacks were targeted at cloud workloads. The data is based on a survey of more than 120 cybersecurity and incident response professionals from around the world. 

Courtesy of VMware

Going deeper

The 2021 Natixis Investment Managers Global Survey of Individual Investors explores how the pandemic affected investors’ finances, emotions, and health. Although investors offer reasons to be optimistic about returns, they also worry about post-pandemic matters including potential tax increases, managing debt, and health care costs. The data is based on a survey of 8,550 investors in 24 countries. 

Leaderboard

Shaun Blakeman was named CFO at SomaLogic, an A.I.-data driven proteomics technology company. Most recently, Blakeman served as SVP and CFO at Cantel Medical. He has also served as a senior finance director at Medtronic, a medical technology company.

Margot Moellenberg was named the first CFO at Wonolo, a staffing platform. Most recently at Four Winds Interactive, Moellenberg grew from her initial role as CFO into the company’s president and chief operating officer (COO). She also previously served as COO at Western Union Business Solutions.

Overheard

"Today we’re in a new wave of accessibility and democratization."

—Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman on the evolution of investing, as told to Fortune

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