The role of a financial controller

Financial controller looking at statistics

The financial controller is a core financial position within a commercial organization, SME, or multinational company.  Almost all companies will employ a professional in this capacity. 

It is a popular role amongst accounting and finance professionals, and such candidates with strong experience are highly sought-after by employers.


The truth about being a financial controller

A financial controller's role may come across as routine and process driven, particularly for tasks such as month-end or statutory reporting. However, it can also be challenging and interesting. Reporting is just a small part of the role, and a financial controller can also be responsible for treasury, tax, financial planning and growth of commercial business partnerships.

To get the job

Employers often seek experienced professionals who hold a senior position within a finance team. You will also have to be technically astute with sound knowledge of financial fundamentals. Knowledge of general ledger, budgeting, forecasting, accounting standards and compliance regulations are essential, and you will have to demonstrate the ability to see not only the micro, but also the macro side of things. In Belgium, finance professionals with a strong grasp of local and US GAAP and IFRS requirements are also highly valued.

Reporting is just a small part of the role, and a financial controller can also be responsible for treasury, tax, financial planning and growing of commercial business partnerships.

Getting ahead of the competition

Given the competitive nature of the market, a classic accounting background with ‘Big 4’ and controlling experience are highly regarded and preferred by most employers. Three to four years of auditing experience with a ‘Big 4’ will give you a huge head start to moving into an all-round financial reporting role, and eventually, a financial controller role. Candidates without the necessary qualifications should consider acquiring accreditation from a professional body, or accumulate substantial experience in a commercial environment.

Job responsibilities and progression

The core responsibilities of the position will include financial reporting, business budgeting and forecasting, business development projects, treasury management, risk evaluation and business analysis. Financial controllers can evolve in their career to become finance directors or CFOs, depending on the profile or sector of the company.



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