What Does A Financial Controller Do?

What is a Financial Controller? What does a Financial Controller do? What are the requirements to becoming a Financial Controller?

Most experienced finance individuals find these to be simple questions with obvious answers. However, for the rest of us, it may take a few Google searches to figure out what a Financial Controller really is or which functions he or she is responsible for within an organisation. Could it be just another title for a Financial Manager you may wonder? I thought I would save you time from guessing.

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My History: I did not come from a financial background. When I was first introduced to the financial recruitment industry, I remember having to google most concepts that I saw in a CV, just to make sure I didn’t sound so clueless, and I still find myself in unfamiliar territory sometimes. So I hope to provide the simplest description of what a Financial Controller is, what a Financial Controller does, and what the requirements are to becoming one.

What is a Financial Controller?

A Financial Controller is usually a senior manager who acts as the head of accounting. In South Africa specifically, titles for the same function can vary and are usually chosen by the company. In some companies, there may be a structure that includes a Financial Controller reporting to a Financial Manager, but usually, a Financial Controller reports to an organisation’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) or Financial Director (FD). In smaller organisations that do not have CFOs, the Financial Controller might be the top financial officer, reporting to the Managing Director (MD) or even the Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

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What does a Financial Controller do?

I don't remember what a financial controller does and I'm too afraid to ask.

The Financial Controller’s duties are to manage the financial accounting functions of an organisation, to monitor internal controls, and to oversee the preparation of financial reports such as balance sheets and income statements. Furthermore, the duties may include banking and finance activities, payment to all taxing authorities, insurance recommendations, and corporate documentation.

A Financial Controller’s duties are important because the remainder of employees in the company, from employees to executives, rely on his / her interpretation of figures to make sound decisions on expenses and sales, and to get an accurate report of where the company stands financially.

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What are the requirements for becoming a Financial Controller?

Usually, a Financial Controller will have a minimum of a degree qualification in the finance stream, and accounting experience of at least 3-4 years in a senior accounting position. They could also be professionally qualified as a CA(SA) or ACMA, CGMA. They will also have strong problem-solving skills, a sharp, analytical eye and good interpersonal and communication skills.

So I hope this short summary has enlightened those who are interested in understanding what a Financial Controller really does.

Written by Gilda Ngenda – Financial Services Recruitment Consultant – gilda@ca.co.za


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