What Is a Financial Controller? What Does a Financial Controller Do?
Money makes the world go ‘round, especially when it comes to running a business. So when your company is growing, it’s wise to invest in a solid financial team who can keep your books in good shape and help you plan for the future.
But sometimes balance sheets, accounts payable, expense reports, and other money-related tasks are more than any one accountant should have on their plate.
At this point, it may be time to hire a financial controller to take the reins.
But what exactly is a financial controller? And what does a financial controller do? We’ll explain everything you should know about this accounting role, and help you decide if (and when) it’s something your business needs.
What Is a Financial Controller?
A financial controller can be the head of the accounting or finance department in the absence of a chief financial officer (CFO). They’re charged with the task of overseeing all financial records, making sure they’re in line with the money flowing in and out of any business.
The controller is a leader who likely manages other accounts and delegates tasks related to taxes, internal spending policies, bank accounts, and more.
Smaller companies may combine the role of financial controller with the role of CFO, who typically spends more time focusing on financial strategy and raising money for the company.
What Does a Financial Controller Do?
The daily responsibilities of a financial controller differ depending on the company’s size and the nature of the industry. However, there are a few key tasks that most controllers share in any role.
1. Accounting Management
There are many moving parts in a mid- to large-scale accounting department, and a financial controller makes sure all of it runs smoothly. They manage or delegate tasks such as billing, accounts payable, cost accounting, revenue recognition, and more.
2. Financial Forecasting
Financial forecasting is an important part of any successful business, enabling you to plan for the future and anticipate various scenarios based on your strategy The controller helps forecast financials by calculating future revenue and income streams.
3. Internal Controls Management
An organized, effective accounting department should have well-documented policies and workflows for all business processes. The controller also helps develop and record these policies to improve internal controls.
4. Auditing Oversight
Though the controller does not conduct audits, they do work with outside auditors to ensure the process goes smoothly. Think of them as the auditing coordinator. They’ll be there as the knowledgeable go-between and help you better prepare for the auditing process.
5. Cash Flow Management
It’s essential to know where every dollar is going when you’re running a business, and a controller can help you do so by keeping a close eye on your company’s cash flow. They’ll create detailed reports and provide analysis so you can better streamline your money management.
6. Team Leadership
Ultimately, the financial controller is the most senior position in the accounting department, meaning they spend much of their time taking care of leadership tasks, such as hiring new accountants, developing training programs, and overseeing the daily operations of the department.
Why Is a Financial Controller Important?
CEOs may get most of the glory, but don’t be fooled—a financial controller is one of the most essential roles in any company. A skilled controller heads up the financial reporting, improves cash flow and budgets, and prepares a company to plan for the future. The best controllers are highly detail-oriented and able to manage and delegate tasks to keep the company’s financials in order as they grow.
Who Do Financial Controllers Serve?
Financial controllers serve a variety of needs in a wide range of organizations. An eCommerce company might hire a controller to monitor expenses and create an efficient reporting process. A subscription-based company or SaaS company might hire a controller to analyze churn rates or create advanced metrics to boost profits.
Does Your Business Need a Financial Controller?
From bookkeepers and analysts to payroll clerks and senior accountants, there are many financial roles to fill within the accounting department. So who do financial controllers serve, and does your business need a financial controller?
Here are a few reasons you might benefit from hiring a financial controller.
1. You Need Someone to Oversee Bookkeeping
If you’re an overloaded business owner or CEO who doesn’t have time to oversee bookkeeping, a financial controller is the ideal team member to handle the task. A financial controller can step in where a CFO might to ensure everything is being accurately recorded.
2. You Want a Deep Analysis of Financial Reports
Are you noticing frequent mistakes in your financials? If so, it can be difficult to pinpoint the source of the problem. A financial controller specializes in identifying and resolving the underlying issues in your books before they become a significant threat to the backbone of your business.
3. You’re Ready to Speed Up the Financial Close Process
As your business grows, it’s smart to look more closely at real-time data, meaning you may need to adjust your financial close process from once a year or once a quarter to a monthly basis. Hiring a financial controller can help make this transition go more smoothly by overseeing and streamlining this process.
4. You’re Worried About Financial Security
Security breaches are an increasing concern for most businesses, and the typical bookkeeper or accountant doesn’t have the background to take on this task alone. However, a financial controller specializes in internal controls that will protect sensitive financial data and minimize the chances of fraud.
When Is It Time to Hire a Financial Controller?
You may be interested in hiring a financial controller, but you’re not sure if your business is ready to take this step. Fortunately, you can look to other companies to see when it’s most common to hire a controller.
Typically, companies that have reached at least $1 million in revenue begin to consider hiring a controller, and will have certainly done so by the time they’ve reached $10 million in revenue. At this point, the controller will take over the typical tasks of in-depth reporting, handling internal controls, and taking care of the closing process.
If you haven’t hit this stage yet, hiring a full-time controller may not be in your best interest— fortunately, you can outsource your financial controller services to save you money and enjoy the same benefits of an in-house controller.
Controller vs. CFO: Which Is Right for Your Business?
Financial controllers and CFOs often have overlapping responsibilities. And as we mentioned before, smaller companies may hire a controller to cover the typical tasks of a CFO. So what are the key differences between these two roles, and which is right for your business?
A controller is usually the best fit for a smaller company needing someone to oversee reports and accounting, while a CFO is ideal for growing companies that are seeking an expert who can weigh in on financial strategy aligned to your business goals.
Outsource Your Financial Controller Responsibilities Today
Want to learn more about how a financial controller or CFO can benefit your company? Contact Amplēo today to find out how outsourcing the task could be the best way to help your business grow.
We specialize in all financial roles, including bookkeeping, financial reporting, forecasting, fundraising, and more.
Our expert team of CFOs and financial controllers will help you reach your goals, establishing a relationship of trust and transparency along the way. We specialize in SaaS accounting, eCommerce financial strategy, and more. Get in touch with us today.