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Financial Controllers: 6 Helpful Tips for Success

The financial controllers of a company serves a big role in both the accounting and finance department and in management. They also have a unique opportunity to become an invaluable asset to the every department in the company. Here are six tips and tricks for becoming the best financial controller your company has ever seen.

  1. Take Advantage of Automation

The expectation for closing the books, especially for big landmarks like quarterly and annual closes, is that the process will take less than a week. What most companies are not sharing is that it usually takes a lot longer than that.

Most companies are a long way off from being able to leverage their automated processes for a fully automated close. However, a lead financial controller is able to use automation to make closing the books easier and quicker than ever.

Since the majority of financial software and Enterprise Resource Planning systems can be fully integrated with both the company’s spreadsheet software and each other, achieving a partially automated close is simple. Automate key closing tasks like data consolidation and report synthesis to eliminate time-consuming manual tasks and allow for shorter task lists for your staff.

  1. Lead with Data

Top Financial Controllers are not just nailing quicker closes, they are also serving a key role in the decision making process with the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and the rest of the executive team.

Using the financial data the accounting and finance staff works with every day, the controller can create in-depth financial reports that will quickly become indispensable to the executive suite. Implement things like visual analytics to place relevant key performance indicators (KPIs) in context with the rest of the company’s financial data. Create scorecards to identify patterns and help establish healthier financial trends.

These easy to use data reporting methods can be used across the entire organization to help them make better budgeting decisions and more.

  1. Emphasize and Enable Collaboration

Most of the departments the financial controller has primary contact with are widely separated. The controller usually functions as the head of the accounting and finance department, as well as a liaison to the executive team. The controller role generally also includes interaction with department heads in each of the company’s departments and divisions and often branch managers at each of the company’s locations. This may include a vast variety of geographical locations, personality types and even time zones. The controller and the rest of the accounting and finance staff must find ways to enable collaboration between the many offshoots of the company.

Financial controllers have the responsibly to centralize the accounting and finance department. Consider creating a tight communication schedule to reduce bottlenecks and waiting lists. Promote unity by giving each department a chance to be heard by both you and the executive team. Maintaining a consistent schedule also gives your team the chance to deliver financial information and reports in a timely manner, enabling smooth day-to-day operations and a seamless close.

  1. Invest in Your Professional Development

The world of accounting is always changing. Take advantage of training opportunities, financial conferences, continued professional education (CPE) courses and more.

By keeping up with your professional development, you can ensure that you are always on the forefront of advancements in general practice and technology. Share this knowledge with the accounting and finance staff or the executive team to keep your company on the cutting edge.

If you are a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), additional courses are usually available through your creditor. These courses often cover a wide variety of subjects like cyber security or fraud protection. You can also find more every day topics like strategic planning and data presentation. These courses are a great way to augment your continued learning experiences.

  1. Expand Your Role in the Company

On smaller accounting and finance teams, the controller and the CFO are often the same person. On larger teams where they are not, the controller often serves as a right hand to the CFO. They serve as the direct connection between the accounting and finance departments and the executive team, and vice versa.

Financial controllers are not only responsible for being the leader of the accounting and finance team. Controllers ensure all work that the team produces is accurate and on time. They also take on the role of a sort of junior CFO. They are responsible for backing up any strategic decisions the CFO makes with tangible financial data.

The CFO serves as the company’s strategic visionary. This tends to mean that the CFO is not necessarily an accounting expert. Instead, they rely on the controller for that aspect of their role. The controller ensures that the day-to-day operations of the company are going smoothly. The goal is to have the financial outlook on the company be healthy.

To augment this role, controllers can take these responsibilities one step further.  This is also a great opportunity to go above and beyond in your duties. If the numbers support a new product line or a new location, prepare data and reporting to back it up and present your findings to the CFO. The company’s CFO relies on the controller to be both their right hand and their eyes in the books.

  1. Financial Controllers: Remember that Knowledge is Power

Financial Controllers have the potential to be the most useful member of a company’s entire team. They have inside knowledge about things like the company’s operations, finances, industry standards, sector dynamics, office technology and more. Each of these knowledge bases serves as a new opportunity to help others in the company.

Leverage your knowledge of the company’s internal and financial processes to optimize workflow and streamline the company’s operations. Use your strategic experience to set long-term goals for your department and to help other departments do the same. With knowledge comes the opportunity to help your company grow and expand.

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