Why Every Growing Business Needs a Financial Controller

Different types of accountants

If your business is growing but you feel unsure about cash flow, are being chased by suppliers but are not sure how much you owe them or your bookkeeper is providing you with reports that do not seem right, then a Financial Controller may be the solution you are looking for.

What is a Financial Controller?

The role of a Financial Controller involves a variety of number crunching tasks, overseeing, making sure the accounts department of a business runs smoothly as well as managing financial strategy.

While a financial controller in a large organisation will typically have a team of accountants around them to manage admin tasks, in a growing business the financial controller may work part time or on a freelance basis to  run the company’s entire financial function – from bookkeeping to basic FD. A financial controller should be a qualified accountant, commonly ACCA, CIMA or ACA with good business experience, verging on a financial director.

Some key traits of a Financial controller:

  • Good all rounder – they should have an advanced knowledge of tax and capable of identifying areas where tax may be saved;
  • Not just an accountant – business people with a solid financial experience and expertise;
  • A good communicator – used to dealing with external accountants, your bank manager or other members of your team;
  • Forward focusing – helping to build budgets and forecasts, analysing real time results and helping make strategic decisions as well as managing costs;
  • A team member – even on a part time basis they will present themselves as part of your team, getting to know you and your business;
  • Problem solver – confident and capable of answering technical questions asked by bookkeepers up to Board Level.

What does a Financial Controller actually do?

  • Preparing management accounts;
  • Budget setting and measuring these against actual results;
  • Forecasting and analysis;
  • Prepare and manage VAT;
  • Reporting to management;
  • Manage credit control;
  • Manage suppliers and their payments;
  • Manage all reconciliations;
  • Oversee payroll and related matters;
  • Target setting for employees;
  • Liaise with external accountants and your bank manager;
  • Have an overall understanding of tax matters;
  • Often works closely with Small Business Owners to offer financial advice and aid business strategy;
  • Promote efficiency to improve cash flow.

Whilst a Financial Director is expected to take part in board meetings, in the absence of an FD the financial controller can fill this gap.  In a small business or startup it often makes sense for them to undertake all bookkeeping and accounting responsibilities in addition to their usual duties, then as the business grows new team members can be bought in to develop a full accounting team which the Financial Controller will ultimately manage.

Financial Controllers are in more demand than ever as they represent a great all round solution to a growing business offering the talents of a Finance Director which are sufficient for a small business but at a fraction of the cost.  They are rapidly becoming a must have for any startup or growing business who wants to find an accountant who is willing to present themselves as part of the Company, even if they are actually a freelancer or only work part time. It’s a great solution to improve your strength as a business, your size in the marketplace and credibility with lenders as well as dealing with a layer of administration within the business.

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