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Financial Controller

What does a Financial Controller do?

The role of a Financial Controller is to manage and maintain all accounting functions within a business. This involves preparing budgets and financial forecasts, preparing monthly statements, managing cashflow and preparing monthly board packs. Generally speaking, the Financial Controller is the main point of contact for external stakeholders, which can include banks, solicitors, auditors and investors. The Financial Controller is responsible for maintaining a robust financial control environment and managing the day-to-day running of the finance function, including management and development of the finance team. A Financial Controller is also responsible for ensuring financial systems are fit for purpose, maintained, improved and in some cases updated during the implementation of new systems.

Fundamental skills that are required in order to be a successful Financial Controller, include:

  • A real aptitude for working with numbers;

  • Excellent analytical skills, organisational skills and being able to think critically;

  • A passion for business improvements and higher level view of the finance function;

  • A deep and genuine interest in finances and business;

  • High level of attention to detail and accuracy;

  • Strong leadership and communication skills;

  • Great business acumen;

  • Strong interpersonal relation skills.

  • Superb problem-solving skills;

  • Excellent ability to make informed decisions;

  • Confident communication and presentation skills; and

  • Ability to meet strict deadlines.

Are there any similar roles to a Financial Controller?

Depending on the size and type of business there are various differently named roles with similar job requirements. Some businesses refer to a Financial Controller as a Head of Finance and some companies use the title of Finance Manager. There can also be a difference in role responsibilities depending on the size of the business.

How do I become a Financial Controller?

There are multiple entry routes you can take in order to become an established Financial Controller. An initial route would be gain experience within an industry, having started out as an Accounts Assistant or similar and studying ACCA or CIMA and progressing through a finance career pathway. The progression steps would typically be Assistant Accountant, Management Accountant/Financial Accountant and then onto Finance Manger before securing the role as a Financial Controller. This career path would enable you to understand the roles of the team you will ultimately be responsible for managing as Financial Controller, while allowing you gain invaluable knowledge, experience and understanding of the overall finance function in a business.

There are other common routes to becoming a Financial Controller. One of the more popular routes is a move directly from an Accountancy firm as a qualified Accountant. Typically an individual will secure a role in an Accountancy firm and complete their ACA or ACCA qualification and then move into industry in a Financial Accounting or Financial Reporting role before progressing to a Finance Manager or Assistant Financial Controller and then into a Financial Controller role. However, depending on the company in question and the level of experience and seniority that you may have reached within an Accountancy practice, it is possible to move straight into an Financial Controller role within industry, having progressed to Manager or Senior Management level within practice. The transition is often much easier if it is a previous client or a sector which the individual is familiar with.

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Typical Job Spec for a Financial Controller

General Purpose

A typical Financial Controller role will oversee the day to day running of the finance function and report into the Finance Director, Head of Finance or Chief Financial Officer depending on the company structure. The Financial Controller will focus on the management of an existing finance department, support commercial and operational activities and provide quality financial information to both internal and external stakeholders. They are responsible for timely and accurate financial information to support the decision making process.

Core Role and Responsibilities

  • Managing all day to day accounting operations;

  • Management and development of the finance team;

  • Development of existing practices across the business and introduce new and improved ways of working;

  • Management of KPIs and oversight of the management accounts process;

  • Preparation of the monthly board pack;

  • Coordinating the preparation of budget and financial forecasting and reporting any variances;

  • Creating reports (annual and monthly) which identifies results, trends and forecasts;

  • Supporting commercial operating functions through increased financial analysis and improved reporting;

  • Ownership and development of the organisation’s treasury activities including foreign exchange transactions, ensuring accurate cash positioning at all times;

  • Preparation of the organisation’s annual budgeting and re-forecasting activities;

  • Coordinating the management of cash flow, debt and debt collection;

  • Maintaining excellent relationships with all external stakeholders: banks, solicitors, auditors and investors;

  • Management of the group audit process;

  • Development of the organisation’s ERP platform across finance and the wider business;

  • Streamlining and improving all operations and accounting systems; and

  • Providing financial support to commercial activities within the business e.g. forecasting, tenders and strategy planning.

Core Competencies

  • Qualified ACA, CIMA or ACCA, or QBE;

  • Experience in the preparation of management information;

  • Experience of working cross-functionally within previous organisations;

  • Ability to analyse and critically evaluate data;

  • An excellent manager of people with proven experience in developing individuals;

  • Pro-active approach and motivated to continually improve business processes; and

  • Strong ability with Microsoft Excel.