How to hire for a Financial Controller?


Financial Controllers are tasked with overseeing day-to-day accounting functions, integrating finance operations, forecasting and budgeting, handling tax matters, preparing financial reports, and ensuring organizational financial stability. 

Additional responsibilities can include management of information technologies, insurance, sales tax reporting, federal income tax reporting, outside CPA audits, human resources, monitoring internal controls, monitoring expenditure, forecasting revenue and analyzing financial data to varying degrees.  

Standard Job Description: 

A financial controller is a senior-level executive who acts as the head of accounting, and oversees the preparation of financial reports, such as balance sheets and income statements 

A financial controller, who may also be referred to as a financial comptroller, usually reports to an organization’s chief financial officer (CFO). In smaller organizations that do not have CFOs, the controller might be the top financial officer. 

A Financial Controller will aid an organization in maintaining positive revenue and financial growth, formulating sound financial strategies, implementing proper internal controls, achieving organizational targets, and developing financial plans that support organizational strategy. 

At some companies, financial controllers are involved in evaluating and selecting technology for use within the finance department or other related departments within the organization. Controllers are responsible for the financial and regulatory compliance of the Company. 

A financial controller is responsible for – 

1. Overall Accounting Oversight. A financial controller is responsible for ensuring that all accounting allocations are appropriately made and documented. In smaller companies, the controller may also perform cash management functions and oversee accounts payable, accounts receivable, cash disbursements, payroll and bank reconciliation functions. Every company should maintain a separation of duties with regards to accounting functions to ensure that there are checks and balances in the system. 

For instance, if the controller is responsible for preparing cash disbursements, he should not be a signatory on the account; the owner, chief executive or chief financial officer should be required to sign all checks. 

2. Establishing and Executing Internal Controls. A financial controller is responsible for establishing and executing internal controls over the company’s accounting and financial procedures. This includes reviewing and approving all invoices to be paid, as well as reviewing accounts receivable aging reports. In smaller companies, the controller will often handle collections on invoices, especially ones that are 45 days to 60 days overdue. 

A financial controller is also responsible for coordinating with external tax accountants for income tax preparation and auditors who prepare internal audits of the company. This includes keeping company records organized and readily available for examination. 

3. Financial Planning and Reporting. Financial controllers in smaller companies are responsible for all banking and finance activities. This includes negotiating lines of credit and vendor agreements, as well as reviewing all financial contracts, financing agreements and insurance policies. He/She is also responsible for providing accurate and comprehensive financial information to executive management for long-term financial strategizing. Unless a company has a CFO to provide the leadership for long-term financial planning, the controller will be required to fulfill this responsibility as well. 

In any case, she must provide crucial financial data and work with executive management to coordinate all financial planning functions with business operations. Financial reporting duties include preparing financial statements, balance sheets, cash flow reports, budgets, budget-to-actuals and financial projections. 

4. Financial Analysis and Opinions. In addition to financial reporting, a controller must be skilled at in-depth financial analysis and providing expert financial perspective and opinions. This means that a financial controller must be proficient in spreadsheet design that is often complex. While a CFO is responsible for finalizing financial policy, a controller’s financial analysis skills are instrumental in helping to assess risk, analyze efficiency and inform policy decisions made by executive management. 

Key Job Responsibilities:

1. Oversee all company accounts and investments. 

2. Create monthly and annual reports to identify results, trends, and financial forecasts. 

3. Manage cash flow by tracking transactions and regularly reviewing internal reports. 

4. Supervise and manage financial department staff, including accountants and financial assistants. 

5. Motivate and lead finance team members by clarifying roles and providing helpful feedback. 

6. Suggest updates and improvements for accounting systems, including payroll and invoicing. 

7. Ensure that all financial transactions are properly recorded, filed, and reported. 

8. Establish and implement financial reporting systems to comply with government regulations and legislation. 

9. Collaborate with auditing services to ensure proper compliance with all regulations. 

10. Develop budgets and financial plans for the company based on research and data reports. 

11. Review all financial plans and budgets regularly to look for cost reduction opportunities. 

12. Examine all financial reports and data closely to check for discrepancies. 

13. Create systems to prevent errors in data collection and calculations. 

14. Report to the CFO with timely and accurate financial information. 

15. Assist the CFO in presenting reports to senior executives, stakeholders, and board members. 

Ideal Candidate: 

1. Thorough knowledge of accounting principles and procedures. 

2. Experience with creating financial statements. 

3. Experience with general ledger functions and the month-end/year end close process. 

4. Excellent accounting software user and administration skills. 

5. Members of or connected to recognized professional associations such as the Finance and Treasury Association, Australian Bankers
Association or FINSIA. 

Desired Education:

Bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in accounting, business, economics, finance, or a related field 

Certifications Associated:

1. Certified Practicing Accountants (CPA) 

2. Chartered Accountants (CA) 

3. Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) 

4. Certified Financial Planner (CFP) 

5. Certified Management Accountant (CMA) 

Key Skills: 

Financial Management, Accounting, Taxation, Financial Control, Budgeting& Cost Control, Internal Audit, Financial Planning, Internal Control, Variance Analysis, Financial Modelling, Financial Analysis, ICWAI, CS, Financial Forecasting, Working Capital Management, Financial Modelling, Risk Management. 

Common Positions:

1. Financial Comptroller 

2. Treasury Operations Manager/Director 

3. Finance Vice President 

4. Director of Finance 

5. Head of Financial Supply Chain 

6. Financial Examiner 

7. Chief of Finance Control 

Screening Questions/Assessment Parameters: 

Basic Terminologies:

1. Accounting Cycle. The sequence of steps followed in the accounting process to measure business transactions and transform the measurements into FINANCIAL STATEMENTS for a specific period. 

2. Account Payable. Amount owed to a CREDITOR for delivered goods or completed services. 

3. Account Receivable. Claim against a DEBTOR for an uncollected amount, generally from a completed transaction of sales or services rendered. 

4. Accrual Accounting. The attempt to record the financial effects of transactions and other events in the periods in which those transactions or events occur rather than only in the periods in which cash is received or paid by the business, using all the techniques developed by accountants to apply the MATCHING PRINCIPLE. 

5. Actuary. Mathematician employed by an insurance company to calculate PREMIUMS, RESERVES, DIVIDENDS, and insurance, PENSION, and ANNUITY rates, using risk factors obtained from experience tables. 

6. Adjusted Gross Income. Gross income reduced by business and other specified expenses of individual taxpayers. 

7. Adjusted Trial Balance. A trial balance prepared after all adjusting entries have been recorded and posted to the accounts. Should have equal credit and debit totals. 

8. Adjusting Journal Entry. An accounting entry made into a subsidiary ledger called the General journal to account for a periods changes, omissions or other financial data required to be reported “in the books” but not usually posted to the journals used for typical period transactions (the cash receipts journal, cash disbursements journal, the payroll journal, sales journal and so on) the entry is posted to the general ledger accounts directly and usually will be numbered itself, dated and have an explanation. 

9. Bequest. Legal process, governed by federal statute, whereby the DEBTS of an insolvent person are liquidated after being satisfied to the greatest extent possible by the DEBTOR’S ASSETS. During bankruptcy, the debtor’s assets are held and managed by a court appointed TRUSTEE. 

10. Burden Rate. Standard rate multiplied by a level of activity to determine the OVERHEAD cost of that activity. Activity measures include LABOR or machine hours. 

Industry Jargons:

1. Abatement. Complete removal of an amount due, (usually referring to a tax ABATEMENT a penalty abatement or an INTEREST abatement
within a governing agency). 

2. Absorption Costing. An approach to product costing that assigns a representative portion of all types of manufacturing costs–direct materials, direct labor, variable factory overhead, and fixed factory overhead–to individual products. 

3. Accelerated Depreciation. Method that records greater DEPRECIATION than STRAIGHT-LINE DEPRECIATION in the early years and less depreciation than straight-line in the later years of an ASSET’S HOLDING PERIOD. 

4. Accounts Payable Subsidiary Ledger. A financial record of an individual ACCOUNT PAYABLE in which entries can be made daily. 

5. Acid-Test Ratio. The relationship of a company’s current assets that can be converted into cash to its current liabilities. It is determined by dividing QUICK ASSETS by current liabilities. 

6. American Depository Receipt (ADR). Receipts for shares of foreign company stock maintained by an intermediary indicating ownership. 

7. Allowance for Doubtful Accounts. A contra-asset account used to reduce ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE to the amount that is expected to be
collected in cash. 

8. Alternative Dispute Resolution. An alternative to formal litigation which includes techniques such as arbitration, mediation, and a
non-binding summary jury trial. 

9. Bank Reconciliation. A process by which an accountant determines whether and why there is a difference between the balance shown on
the bank statement and the balance of the cash account in the firm’s GENERAL LEDGER. 

10. Co-Mingling. Mixing ASSETS, e.g. customer-owned SECURITIES, with those owned by a firm in its proprietary accounts. 

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