Even in today’s fast moving business environment featuring innnovative products and services, the business fundamentals performed by a company’s financial controller is still quite relevant. Financial controllers are key members of companies’ senior management teams who provide oversight for accounting and financial reporting activities. Here are some examples of their primary job functions, the industries where they normally find the greatest number of career opportunities and the education and certification credentials they normally hold.
Accounting and Financial Policy Maker
A financial controller reports to a company’s Financial Director or Chief Financial Officer depending on the size and nature of the company, and they act as their company’s chief accountant. The financial controller generates policies regarding employee payroll, retirement investment accounts and business travel expenses and reimbursements in this role. They also analyze the company’s ability to use credit and debt to its advantage and subsequently generate policies designed to protect the financial health of the organization. Financial controllers who perform these functions support businesses operating across all industries, but are seen to have a prominent role in large retail establishments. In addition to undergraduate degrees in areas like finance, accounting and business administration, financial controllers who focus on these accounting policy making activities generally earn professional credentials like the certified managerial accounting designation.
Financial Activity Rporting Lead
No corporation operates autonomously where financial transactions are concerned. That is one reason why accurate, consistent and timely financial reporting is such an important part of the job description of a financial controller. These financial professionals provide updated financial reports to both external and internal stakeholders. For instance, financial controllers may oversee the preparation of Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) report, and they are often the only person authorized to officially submit those reports on behalf of their organizations. Internal financial reporting is done to keep Financial Directors and CFOs aware of companies’ financial status. Financial controllers generally set up the schedule for these reports that can be submitted on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis. They also select financial and accounting software systems that help them to generate and update financial models and reports efficiently. Businesses operating within the financial services sector employ large numbers of financial controllers who focus on financial activity reporting. Financial controllers who are heavily involved with finance and accounting reporting functions are usually certified public accountants.
Internal Audit Load Advisor
After generating finance, accounting and budgetary policies, financial controllers also monitor their implementation through periodic analysis and by conducting internal audits, according to the Houston Chronicle. This process ensures that the organization is following its business and regulatory obligations to perform, record and report financial transactions according to their adopted standards. These practices can be comprehensive, or they can focus on a particular part of finance and accounting operations. Many industries heavily utilize internal audit functions conducted by financial controllers, but the subscription cable companies operating within the telecommunications industry reflects their demand for these professionals with a significantly higher pay scale. Financial controllers who specialize in internal audit oversight often gain the certified internal auditor credential.
Related Resource: Master’s in Taxation
Although advancements in technology have improved business performance and its services, the business ethics of organizations have not always kept pace. Competent, ethical financial leaders like controllers help to keep their staff, companies and industries honest through the adoption of internal financial policies and standards. The functions of a financial controller influences both daily financial operation as well as long term, strategic ones.