Are you looking to hire a financial controller? Are you curious to know what a financial controller does? Or are you considering becoming a financial controller? If yes, then you've come to the right place.
This blog post will take you through the fantastic world of financial controllers, their responsibilities, roles, qualifications, and career outlook. So, let's get started!
On this page
- Role of a financial controller
- Benefits and challenges of a financial controller
- How to become a financial controller
- Career advancement opportunities
- Financial Controller Interview Questions
What is a financial controller?
A financial controller is responsible for managing the finances of an organisation. They're the people who create financial strategies and oversee the financial operations of the company. The financial controller is usually a senior-level position responsible for ensuring the organisation's financial health and stability.
The financial controller is also responsible for creating financial reports that help the organisation make informed decisions about future investments and strategies. They're also responsible for ensuring that the organisation complies with all applicable laws and regulations.
The financial controller works closely with other departments, such as accounting, marketing, and sales. They're often part of the executive team and are involved in high-level decision-making.
The role of a financial controller in an organisation
The financial controller is a crucial executive team member and is involved in high-level decision-making.
The financial controller is responsible for managing the day-to-day financial operations of a company, including preparing financial reports, overseeing budgeting and forecasting, and ensuring compliance with financial regulations. Some specific responsibilities of a financial controller may include the following:
- Preparing financial statements: The financial controller is responsible for preparing accurate and timely financial statements, such as the balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement.
- Managing financial risks: The financial controller is responsible for identifying and mitigating financial risks by implementing risk management strategies and procedures.
- Ensuring compliance with financial regulations: The financial controller is responsible for ensuring that the company complies with financial regulations and laws by preparing and filing required financial reports and documents.
- Managing financial systems and processes: The financial controller is responsible for managing the financial systems and processes of the company, including accounts payable and receivable, payroll, and financial reporting.
- Developing financial policies and procedures: The financial controller may be responsible for developing and maintaining financial policies and procedures, which can help to ensure the accuracy and efficiency of the company's financial operations.
- Collaborating with other departments: The financial controller may work closely with other departments within the company, such as sales, marketing, and operations, to ensure that the financial needs of the company are being met.
- Managing a team of financial professionals: The financial controller may be responsible for managing and leading a team of financial professionals, such as accountants and financial analysts.
- Implementing new financial systems: The financial controller may be responsible for implementing new financial systems and technologies, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the company's financial operations.
- Collaborating with external partners: The financial controller may work with external partners such as auditors, tax professionals, and banks to ensure the accuracy and compliance of the company's financial operations.
Overall, the financial controller plays a crucial role in the financial management of a company, helping to ensure the accuracy and efficiency of the company's financial operations.
What to look for when hiring a financial controller
When hiring a financial controller, looking for a candidate with the right qualifications, experience, and skills is essential. Here are some of the qualities to look for when hiring a financial controller:
- They should have a strong background in accounting and finance. The candidate should also have relevant professional qualifications, such as a CPA, CA, and ACCA qualification.
- The financial controller will lead and manage a team of financial professionals, so it is vital to look for someone with strong leadership skills.
- They should have strong analytical and problem-solving skills.
- They should have excellent communication and interpersonal skills.
- They should be highly organised and able to manage multiple tasks at once.
- They should strongly understand the organisation's financial objectives and strategies.
- They should be able to work independently and as part of a team.
- They should have a strong understanding of applicable laws and regulations.
- The financial controller needs to have a thorough understanding of the company's industry and the financial and regulatory environment in which it operates.
- They should be able to think critically and provide creative solutions to complex problems.
Benefits and challenges of a financial controller
The benefits of having a financial controller
Having a financial controller in an organisation can be highly beneficial. Here are some of the benefits of having a financial controller:
- They're responsible for ensuring the financial health and stability of the organisation.
- They help the organisation make informed decisions about future investments and strategies.
- They develop financial strategies and plans to ensure the financial stability and growth of the organisation.
- They ensure that the organisation is compliant with all applicable laws and regulations.
- They develop and implement financial policies and procedures.
- They monitor and analyse financial data to identify trends and opportunities for improvement.
- They provide regular financial reports to the executive team.
The challenges of being a financial controller
Being a financial controller can be a challenging job. Here are some of the challenges that a financial controller may face:
- Keeping up with changing laws and regulations. As laws and regulations change, a financial controller must stay on top of them to ensure the organisation is compliant.
- Financial controllers are responsible for managing and analysing large amounts of financial data, which can be time-consuming and challenging.
- Working long hours. Financial controllers may need to work long hours to meet financial objectives.
- Dealing with difficult decisions. Financial controllers must make difficult decisions that may affect the organisation's financial performance.
- Financial controllers play a crucial role in maintaining the trust of stakeholders through the accurate and timely preparation of financial reports. This can be challenging if the controller cannot deliver accurate and reliable financial information.
- Managing the finance department. Financial controllers must ensure that the finance department is running smoothly and efficiently.
- Working under pressure. Financial controllers must be able to work under pressure and meet deadlines.
How to become a financial controller
Financial controllers must have the right qualifications and skills to be successful in their roles. We break these down between educational qualifications, technical skills and soft skills.
Educational qualification and experience
Financial controllers typically have at least a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field and also hold professional qualifications such as the CA, CPA or ACCA. Most financial controllers have a minimum of 8-10 years of robust working experience.
Technical skills required
- Financial reporting skills: Financial controllers should thoroughly understand accounting principles, including Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (US GAAP) and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).
- Knowledge of financial regulations: Financial controllers should thoroughly understand financial regulations and laws, including any relevant industry-specific regulations.
- Proficiency with financial software: Financial controllers should be proficient with financial software, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and spreadsheet programs.
- Data analysis skills: Financial controllers should have strong analytical skills, including the ability to interpret and analyse financial data to identify trends and patterns. This may involve using spreadsheet programs or specialised financial analysis software.
- Automation skills: Financial controllers may be responsible for automating financial processes, such as by using tools such as robotic process automation (RPA) software.
- Cybersecurity skills: Financial controllers should be familiar with cybersecurity best practices and be able to protect financial data and systems from cyber threats.
- Audit compliance skills: Financial controllers should be familiar with compliance requirements, including relevant industry-specific standards such as SOC (System and Organization Controls) or SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley Act). This may involve skills such as preparing and reviewing financial documents for audit purposes, communicating with auditors, and implementing recommendations from auditors.
- Taxation skills: Financial controllers should thoroughly understand tax laws and regulations, including any relevant industry-specific tax requirements. This may involve skills such as preparing and filing tax returns, communicating with tax authorities, and managing tax payments.
Obtaining a certification in a technical skill can demonstrate to recruiters and employers that you have a certain level of expertise in that area. By earning a certification, you can show that you have made an effort to gain a certain level of proficiency in a particular technical skill, which can be attractive to potential employers.
In addition, obtaining a certification can also help you stand out in a competitive job market.
Soft Skills required of a Financial controller
Soft skills are personal attributes that enable an individual to interact effectively with others and adapt to different situations. They are often called "people skills" or "interpersonal skills." Some specific soft skills that may be important for financial controllers include:
- Communication skills: Financial controllers should have strong communication skills, including the ability to effectively communicate complex financial information to various audiences, such as board members, executives, and employees. This may involve active listening, writing, and public speaking skills.
- Interpersonal skills: Financial controllers should have strong interpersonal skills, including the ability to build and maintain positive relationships with colleagues, stakeholders, and partners. This may involve skills such as conflict resolution, collaboration, and teamwork.
- Leadership skills: Financial controllers may be responsible for leading and managing a team of financial professionals, so strong leadership skills are essential. This may include skills such as setting goals, providing direction and guidance, and evaluating performance.
- Problem-solving skills: Financial controllers should have strong problem-solving skills, including the ability to identify and analyse problems, develop solutions, and make decisions.
- Adaptability: Financial controllers should be adaptable and able to adjust to changing circumstances or requirements. This may involve flexibility, open-mindedness, and the ability to learn quickly.
Overall, financial controllers should have various soft skills that enable them to interact effectively with others and adapt to different situations.
What are the advancement opportunities?
Financial controllers have several advancement opportunities, depending on the individual's education, experience, and skills. Some possible career paths for financial controllers include:
- Chief Financial Officer (CFO): The CFO is responsible for the organisation's overall financial management. This is often a high-level executive position that requires a strong foundation in financial principles and practices and leadership skills. Read our blog on how to transition from a controller to a CFO
- Financial Director: Financial directors are responsible for the financial operations of a specific division or business unit within an organisation. This role may require advanced education and experience in financial management.
- Entrepreneur: Financial controllers who have a strong understanding of financial principles and practices and leadership skills may consider starting their own business.
- Nonprofit financial Head: Financial controllers with a passion for social impact may consider transitioning into a financial management role in the nonprofit sector, where they can use their financial expertise to support organisations that serve a social or environmental mission.
A financial controller is a critical position in any company as they are responsible for the organisation's financial well-being. If you are looking to hire a financial controller, or are considering becoming one yourself, then you should understand their responsibilities.
Here at eduyush, we offer certification courses to help you become a qualified and successful financial controller. Visit our website today to learn more about our program.