Skills Financial Controllers Should Have

6 Skills Every Financial Controller Should Have

A financial controller plays a vital role in your accounting and finance department. In order to ensure you are getting the best candidate for your business, search out financial controllers that possess these skills.


The most obvious skill you should look for in a financial controller is knowledge. There are a few areas they should be particularly knowledgeable in to best serve your company.

Industry Dynamics

An in-depth understanding of the industry is a big selling point when you are looking for a financial controller. Their knowledge of the industry will help them make better decisions with your company’s money. Look for candidates with industry experience, software expertise and knowledge of specific accounting practices in your sector.


Some candidates for the controller position have degrees in subjects like economics, business studies or business administration. Programs like these do not often place an emphasis on accounting curriculum. It is important that your financial controller have knowledge or even expertise in Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). Look for candidates with accounting experience and knowledge when filling your controller role.


It is also vital that your financial controller have skill and understanding of the technology you use in the office. This includes both hardware and software. The transition into the controller role will be easier if they are already familiar with the accounting software your company uses. Additionally, your controller will need to be proficient at using Excel and other spreadsheet software to effectively manage reporting.

The Company

Most importantly, your controller should be knowledgeable about your company and the way it runs. In order to effectively manage your company’s processes and compliance, they will need to understand every facet of your company.


Your financial controller should be constantly looking to improve the efficiency of your company’s processes and procedures. Look for candidates with skill in process optimization, especially in operations or accounting departments.

Your financial controller should also be skilled in strategic planning. As a top-ranking member of the accounting and finance department at your company, strategic planning is a great way for them to connect with the executive team. They can help set priorities and control mechanisms for a streamlining strategy that will push future goals forward.


The controller serves as a liaison between the executive team, particularly the Chief Financial Officer (CFO), and the accounting and finance department.  They are responsible for administrative tasks as well. One of the skills you should seek in a controller is the ability to do administrative tasks like reporting.

The controller should be responsible for implementing internal controls and managing compliance. This includes ensuring the accounting and finance departments are running smoothly and efficiently to achieve the goals set out during strategic planning. Your financial controller will also have final approval over reports and other paperwork to ensure compliance with state and federal law and GAAP regulations.


Your financial controller candidate should have skill and show proficiency in analysis. They will be responsible for compiling and approving financial reports and breaking them out into data. These reports and data will go to the executive team and to shareholders if the company is public.

Depending on the company structure, they will likely also be responsible for cost analysis. This data will also go to the executive team and shareholders. It will also be used for finding areas for improvement and measuring the success of the company’s financial strategy.

A controller with experience with analysis and a tendency toward being analytical will be the best fit for the duties and responsibilities of the job.


Another major job responsibility of a financial controller is serving as the head of the accounting and finance department. Any candidates you pursue should have leadership skills and experience. They will be implementing new policies, managing employees, and streamlining department processes.

Leadership skills will be especially useful for implementing the processes and procedures outlined during strategic planning. These may include some big changes to the accounting and finance department, which the controller will be spearheading. They will need to balance both making the changes and leading their teams to do the same.


One of the biggest things you should look for in a controller is a personality that fits your company culture. They should be able to get along with the team members they manage and the others they work with. They should be both likeable and a strong leader.

This person will also need a passion for the details. There is a lot of information involved in maintaining a company’s finances. this information is tracked in complex spreadsheets. A passion for the details ensures that the spreadsheets will be accurately and delicately compiled. It also means that the controller will be able to explain minutiae of the financial data in a potable manner for others.

Your controller should be proficient at developing and maintaining business partnerships both inside and outside the business. These relationships, in conjunction with their hard and soft skills, will make them a seamless fit for your accounting and finance department and your company as a whole.

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