The world of finance is dynamic and intricate, requiring many roles meticulously crafted to safeguard and optimize a company's financial well-being. The fast-paced businesses today need someone who serves as the financial guiding light for a company, skillfully navigating it toward the path of triumph. This is exactly what a financial controller does.
Let us further explore the role of a financial controller responsible for overseeing and managing an organization's financial activities. The primary task of a financial controller includes budgeting, financial reporting, etc.
What is a Controller in Finance?
A financial controller is a personnel in the organization who works as a senior executive, responsible for managing the financial actions of a company. They are pivotal in budget management, financial planning, record-keeping, and financial reporting.
This person oversees all aspects of the company's financial health, keeping their finger on the pulse of the company's financial status.
Let us now check out some of the key roles a financial controller has in a company.
The Financial Controller Job Description
A financial controller catalyzes various FinOps activities, from accounting to budgeting, financial forecasting, and even financial data analysis. Their roles can be quite expansive, depending mainly on the size and nature of the organization.
Here are some of the roles and duties of a financial controller fills:
Assisting in financial reports and analysis
One of the core roles that a financial controller has is that of overseeing the company's financial reporting and analysis. They compile comprehensive financial reports, conduct thorough investigations, and communicate financial insights to stakeholders and company executives.
This job includes the following:
- Preparing or overlooking monthly, quarterly, and annual financial statements
- Managing balance sheets
- Checking income and loss statements
- Overlooking cash flow statements
All such reports offer insights into the company's financial status, displaying revenues, expenses, profits, and losses over a specific period.
Tracey Cauley, CFA at VEM Medical, shared her views on financial reporting:
“Precision is crucial in financial reporting. Our financial controller's meticulous approach to reviewing financial statements helped us identify errors, saving us 5% on potential losses due to misreporting.”
Financial controllers also conduct comprehensive financial analysis, interpret financial data to identify trends, overlook potential challenges, and watch out for growth opportunities.
Carry out budgeting and forecasting tasks
Budgeting and forecasting are fundamental to a financial controller’s job. They're responsible for formulating the company's financial budget, reviewing it regularly, and adjusting it as needed. This also includes conducting financial forecasting to help the company plan for the future and set realistic financial goals.
Ensuring regulatory compliance
A financial controller’s job requires a business to follow all the rules regarding money and the law. They must stay up with the ever-evolving landscape of financial legislation and regulation to guarantee that the business's methods align with the rules.
Risk management involves identifying potential financial risks to the company and taking steps to mitigate these risks. They understand financial trends and data to identify potential risks and implement risk management strategies that help mitigate business challenges.
Such an approach involves analyzing market trends and economic conditions, performing internal audits, or implementing new financial policies. The financial controller may also create financial models to simulate various scenarios and their potential impacts on the company's financial health.
Applying internal controls
The financial controller is also in charge of implementing internal financial controls. This contributes to ensuring the accuracy and reliability of financial reporting and prevents fraud and financial mismanagement.
They also overlook implementing and maintaining internal controls and procedures designed to optimize efficiency, safeguard assets, and prevent fraud. It usually involves setting up procedures for cash handling, approving expenses, and conducting regular internal audits. Implementing such data-backed controls help ensure the accuracy and reliability of financial reporting and compliance with laws and regulations.
Skills the Financial Controller Should Have
The complexity and responsibilities associated with the role of a financial controller require a specific set of skills to carry out the duties mentioned above.
Let’s explore some of the critical skills of the financial controller:
As much of the role involves analyzing financial data, a financial controller must have strong analytical skills. They are responsible for drawing meaningful conclusions from complex financial information and using these insights to drive business strategy.
A financial controller navigates through many spreadsheets, deftly guiding the organization's monetary course. With the utmost scrutiny, the position safeguards the company from fiscal jeopardy while ensuring the growth narrative is not interrupted.
Financial controllers should be able to understand and apply financial principles to interpret financial data and make informed business decisions. This includes understanding financial statements, budgeting, forecasting, and analysis techniques.
Their insight extends beyond the immediacy of the company's accounts, connecting them to the broader business ecosystem. They can discern the subtleties of market dynamics and integrate them into the financial planning and decision-making processes. Essentially, they act as the lighthouse, providing guidance and illumination in the often murky world of corporate finance.
Navigating the ever-shifting regulatory environment can be a complex challenge for financial controllers. However, maintaining an updated knowledge base ensures all business operations meet current legal requirements.
Their job also requires them to remain equipped to interpret these regulations in the context of their specific business model and sector, allowing them to effectively translate complex legislation into actionable steps that the business can implement to remain compliant.
See what Dane Habig, Financial Controller at Utopia Management, had to say:
“Expertise in accounting principles, financial analysis, compliance, and fintech undoubtedly forms the foundation of the financial controller role. However, beyond these essential technical competencies, two standout skills truly define the exceptional financial controller: regulated initiative and superb communication abilities.
It's a crucial process in financial management to safeguard a business from legal repercussions or financial losses. Here, the financial controller ensures that all operations are meticulously scrutinized, enabling enterprises to meet regulatory standards, avoid unforeseen risks, and assure accuracy in all transactions.
Personnel responsible for this job will require managing extensive financial data while adhering to regulatory standards by focusing on minute details. This is crucial to ensure all financial operations are conducted flawlessly and compliantly.
Budgeting and forecasting
Another key responsibility of a financial controller is planning and overseeing the company's budgets. This involves working closely with other departments to create budget proposals, monitor actual spending against budgeted amounts, and make necessary adjustments.
Forecasting involves predicting the company's future financial performance based on market trends, current revenue, and expenditure trends.
Both budgeting and forecasting require strategic thinking and a strong understanding of the company's operations and goals.
Lastly, a deep understanding of financial software, systems, and fintech developments is indispensable. Being technologically competent enhances efficiency and allows for the seamless integration of cutting-edge financial tools and systems, helping to stay at the forefront of financial management.
Moreover, such expertise keeps individuals and institutions at the vanguard of the financial sector, ensuring they can navigate and capitalize on digital transformation effectively.
Expense Management for Financial Controllers
Managing organization-wide business expenses is one of the most important tasks a financial controller does. Manual expense management practices, though, can lead to a messy financial closing process.
There are two main reasons for this:
One, controllers have less visibility into company spend.
Two, available spending information is often poorly organized and formatted right from the start. If you’re going to wait till the end of the month to find out where you’ve been spending, chances are, you will always run into some nasty and time-consuming surprises.
“Errors in expense reporting made manually might be quite expensive. When several reimbursement claims need to be processed, the monotony can be taxing on your staff. Errors with severe financial consequences can be avoided, and worker productivity can be boosted, by automating the process.” - Joe Troyer, CEO of Digital Triggers.
Fortunately, the expense gods heard the prayers of financial controllers across the world and sent in a saving grace: an expense management software.
With a real-time expense management system, employees can send in images of receipts taken with their phones right from restaurants or coffee shops. This eliminates the need for manual data entry and approvals, which can help to reduce errors and free up employees' time to focus on more productive tasks.
What’s more, if you issue corporate cards to your employees, Fyle’s integrations with Mastercard and Visa have made tracking credit card spending real-time too!
You can get instant notifications on all credit card spending, collect receipts via text, and automate credit card reconciliations without being dependent on your bank feeds. All this without changing your existing credit card.