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The changing responsibilities of a financial controller

Written by: ICAEW Jobs
Published on: 25 Jul 2023

Financial controller feature

Financial controllers previously used to be responsible for the organisation’s business administration and accounting policies.  

Fast-forward to now and the role has become a critical position, particularly in terms of how a business grows. A financial controller will work closely with the Chief Financial Officer to identify opportunities for an organisation to improve profitability and reduce unnecessary business expenses. 

We look at the changing role of the financial controller, as well as their place within a business. 

What a financial controller does

A financial controller (also known as a comptroller) is a senior-level finance and accounting position that plays an important role in how a business operates.  

Traditionally, financial controllers would be placed as the primary accountant and leader of the finance department. They play a pivotal part in a business, acting as a steward to preserve assets, manage risk and deliver context around financial data to senior management.  

The data that they have will have plenty of insights to ensure that they make more profitable and strategic business decisions. The modern financial controller is more than just overseeing a finance department, they need to leverage data and communicate effectively with colleagues.  

Upskilling in the latest technologies, as well as their leadership skills is essential for someone to succeed in the role. 

When a financial controller is needed

Depending on the size of the business and the industry, there are some situations where a financial controller is not needed.  

For example, a small business may require a controller, but may not be able to employ one. Outsourcing a controller will ensure that your business meets their targets and deadlines set to help them grow. In some cases, your business may not require a controller and you’ll have to use a bookkeeper to keep track of your finances. 

If your business grows to the point where bookkeepers are not required, then a controller is needed. The controller’s experience, as well as expertise in business law and regulatory compliance, means that your business can continue to keep growing. 

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The changing role of the financial controller

When it comes to how the role of a financial controller is changing, there is more responsibility involved in the role. In effect, they are having to do more in their role, thus becoming CFOs, while Chief Financial Officers are now required to have the skills and decision-making of a Chief Operating Officer (CFOs). 

Financial controllers are now having to develop and expand their current skillsets to cope with these changes. Alongside that, they must pivot with various aspects of leadership and technical skills now required for their position. It means that a financial controller must collaborate with the CFO to drive growth to your business. 

With the financial controller position transitioning from a senior-level position to an executive-level role, they play an essential part of a business’ senior management team. It’s important that financial controllers in organisations leverage technology, with leadership and communication skills to manage risk and boost your business’ finances. 

Secure your Financial Controller job with ICAEW Jobs

The role of a financial controller is constantly changing, from a technological standpoint. It’s more important than ever before that financial controllers work more closely with CFOs to ensure that organisations continue to grow while utilising technology and data to make more strategic and profitable decisions. 

We also have structured learning solutions through the ICAEW Academy, which are designed to deliver world-leading content and helpful advice on which courses are available for your personal career development.  

Looking for your next position? Let ICAEW Jobs help you put one step closer to making your dreams of becoming a Financial Controller a reality. Find out more about the latest job opportunities and careers advice on the ICAEW Jobs website today.