Is It the Right Time for My Business to Hire a Financial Controller?

 

Early into any business venture, team members often wear several hats. Whether you are a CEO overseeing the hiring process or a technology officer contributing to daily operations, versatility is a big bonus in getting a business off the ground. That said, as your business grows, it is essential to fill positions with dedicated team members, armed with specific knowledge.

If you are wondering, “when do I hire a controller?” The short answer is, as soon as possible.

A financial controller is necessary for anyone looking to expand and secure their business. With a dedicated controller, you can streamline accounting, coordinate your financial operations, and provide your team with the resources for success. Read on to explore the benefits, responsibilities, and must-have skills for financial controllers.

What Does a Financial Controller Do?

Before employing a full-time controller, it is essential to outline the position’s responsibilities.

Importantly, a controller is a high-level position tasked with maintaining business finances, overseeing company accounts, and managing accountants and bookkeepers. The role acts as a final checkpoint before financial data reaches the top level of executives. That means accuracy, consistency, and timeliness are of top priority to any financial controller.

Additionally, financial controller responsibilities may include:

  • Building a financial strategy – A controller can work directly with other executives to hone in on strategies for growth. Their financial expertise and experience are invaluable when making crucial decisions about the future of your business.
  • Accounting oversight – While your controller may not be responsible for the minutia of daily accounting operations, they can provide a critical eye and oversight to a variety of tasks. Budget tracking, payroll procedures, and regulatory compliance all fall within a controller’s authority.
  • Financial analysis – Tracking and auditing your financial data is key to your business’ overall success. As your controller reviews business data, they can offer critical analysis, identifying financial trends and providing comparative information to ensure your business’ competitive edge.
  • Leadership and stakeholder communication – Your controller may work between multiple departments or teams to support cohesive and sound financial practices. Additionally, they may be a direct link between various stakeholders in your company, detailing the financial health of the organization and even assisting to secure funding.

How Your Business Can Benefit from a Financial Controller

A dedicated financial controller can add massive benefits to any business organization, ensuring accurate financial reporting, actionable analytics, and crucial compliance. By compiling data-driven insight and supporting your financial team, you can expect a better bottom line and a more operationally sound business. 

The fiscal interests may be clear, but consider these additional benefits of bringing a controller to your team:

  • Fewer errors – A financial team without a controller may be more prone to budget discrepancies, tax problems, and payroll issues. Avoid mistakes by hiring a controller to review all financial documents. Even minor clerical errors can cost your business valuable time and resources.
  • More bandwidth – Are you and your team are spending more time than you would like sorting out financial issues? A controller can free up team resources and allow you to focus on key business decisions and new opportunities.

Financial Controllers vs. CFOs

For many businesses, the responsibilities of financial controllers and Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) may overlap. Early in a business’ development, financial tasks such as budgeting, financial reporting, and analysis may fall under a single team member’s leadership.

Eventually, the responsibilities may become too demanding for a single individual—thus the need to delegate tasks between a controller, CFO, and a larger financial team. 

For a quick overview of the delineations distinguishing these positions, consider the following purviews:

  • Statements and balance sheets – While your CFO may be fully capable of producing and preparing financial statements and reviewing monthly balance sheets, these typically fall under the purview of a controller. By focusing on the ground-level financial data, a controller can free up time for a CFO, allowing them to continue their work on more long-term financial plans.
  • Technical services and systems – The more granular aspects of financial technology should be tasked to your controller. From your accounting software to your internal auditing systems, a controller should have specialized expertise in digital systems that can provide greater efficiency to your business.
  • Internal controls – Protect against fraud while encouraging transparency and accountability. Internal control is an ongoing process, necessary to secure your business assets and increase the reliability of your data. A controller will protect the integrity of your company by ensuring proper procedures are followed at every level. 

A controller should work closely with a CFO, providing the actionable data that informs a CFO’s larger financial decisions. Controllers are highly technical, often able to spot inefficiencies and inaccuracies that other financial experts might miss. While CFOs are always looking ahead, financial controllers focus on the most immediate financial data and the day-to-day execution of the former’s strategies.

What to Look for in a Financial Controller

The varied duties of a financial controller mean that the position is highly specialized. Seek a controller with expertise in your particular industry or a comparable business.

Generally, it is advised to hire a controller that fits the minimum educational requirements, including:

  • A bachelor’s degree in finance or a related field
  • A Master of Business Administration (MBA) 
  • Specific accreditations, including:
    • Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
    • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
    • Personal Financial Specialist (PFS)

While a resume of quality higher education and accreditations may make for a strong applicant, direct experience cannot be underestimated. Leadership skills, communication, and flexibility are equally relevant when screening candidates.

Given the high demand for talented financial controllers, it may be expected that these professionals enter their positions with a six-figure salary. Fortunately, there may be other methods for your business to reap the rewards of a full-time financial controller without adding a major salary to your operating costs.

 

CFO Hub: Your In-House Financial Controller

When it comes to success, there is no shortcut. It takes proficiency, drive, and commitment to build a thriving business, and at CFO Hub, we aim to help you achieve your highest potential. 

As your financial controller, our team will prepare financial statements, implement and integrate new accounting systems, and train your team to maximize their performance. Plus, we offer a full suite of financial services and support, giving you an unparalleled experience with flexible applications.

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