What to Look for in a Financial Controller

January 6, 2024

financial controller

No matter how big or small your company is, you’ll need someone to handle the enormous responsibilities of money, whether it’s keeping the cash flow through your organization to help it grow or to make sure employees get paid on time.

There is a position between a chief financial officer and an accountant. A financial controller is responsible for managing the daily financial operations of a company, in addition to helping it make stratetic decisions. If you don’t have an individual in this role at your company, it’s critical you fill it as soon as possible.

Not sure how to distinguish between qualified applicants and unqualified applicants for a controller position? That’s ok, we have you covered. Here’s what to look for in a financial controller. 

Extensive Experience With Financial Responsibilities

A financial controller has duties that go beyond that of just an accountant. Your controller needs to be adept at juggling various roles to keep the financial operations of your company running smoothly.

When you’re looking through resumes and interviewing candidates, make sure they have experience with the following:

  • Managing accounts payable and receivable
  • Managing budgets
  • Reviewing invoices
  • Keeping a company within the bounds of accounting and regulatory compliance
  • Preparing and reporting financial statements
  • Analyizing financial data and recommending actions based on results


Education and Certifications Relevant to the Financial Industry

While experience tends to be the greatest indicator of whether a person can do the job, education and certifications can still be indicative of someone’s qualifications for the role.

Several certifications are proof of an applicant’s strengths in the financial industry. Here are some you should take note of:

  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA) – Individuals who hold this certification have passed a rigrous exam that proves they are qualified to provide accounting services. The benefits of the CPA that holders of this certification enjoy include increased earning potential and new job opportunities. 
  • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) – This professional certification is evidence of an individual’s expertise in investment analysis. Before taking the three different exams for the CFA, individuals must have a bachelor’s degree and four years of industry experience. 
  • Certified Management Accountant (CMA) – The CMA is a certification that demonstrates an individual’s expertise in using financial data to help businesses make strategic decisions. In addition to passing an exam, individuals must have two years of industry experience and a bachelor’s degree.

When it comes to education, controllers typically have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in accounting.

Ability to Lead and Take Charge

Armed with financial data, reports, and knowledge of the laws and regulations your business needs to be compliant with, it’s not uncommon for a controller to be expected to lead and make big decisions. 

While a financial controller reports directly to the chief financial officer (CFO) within a company, which is a huge responsibility in itself, they are also expected to lead a team. Here are some typical members of that team:

  • Accounting managers
  • Accounts payable and receivable managers
  • Bookkeepers

When interviewing candidates for the job, ask them questions about their leadership capabilities. Can you envision them leading a team and arming your CFO with the right knowledge? Can you see them navigating the company through major financial decisions in the future and through uncertain times? If you need help finding a qualified financial controller for your business, we can help. K2 Staffing has more than 40 years of experience with filling open roles at companies that need financial experts. Contact us today.

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