Financial controller

Financial controller article illustration


Financial controllers handle all tasks related to the budgeting and accounting aspects of a company or organisation. They implement and ensure compliance with internal financial and accounting procedures, and prepare documentation for external audits. They collect information related to financial statements such as assets, liabilities, equity, and cash flow in order to assess the company’s financial position to prepare annual budgets and forecasts.

Financial controllers typically do the following tasks:

  • Manage and supervise the finance department, including accounting, budgeting, and reporting teams.
  • Oversee the preparation and analysis of financial statements, reports, and budgets.
  • Ensure compliance with financial regulations, accounting standards, and tax laws.
  • Develop and implement financial policies, procedures, and internal controls.
  • Provide accurate and timely financial information to senior management and stakeholders.
  • Monitor the organization’s cash flow, liquidity, and financial performance.
  • Coordinate and communicate with external auditors, ensuring successful audit processes.
  • Lead financial planning and forecasting activities to support strategic decision-making.
  • Analyze financial data to identify trends, risks, and opportunities for improvement.
  • Collaborate with other departments to develop and review budgets and financial plans.
  • Assess investment opportunities and make recommendations for optimizing the organization’s financial resources.
  • Manage relationships with financial institutions, investors, and other external partners.
  • Stay updated on financial regulations, reporting requirements, and industry trends.
  • Evaluate financial systems and processes, implementing improvements for efficiency and accuracy.
  • Prepare and present financial reports and insights to the board of directors and executives.
  • Manage treasury functions, including cash management, investments, and debt.
  • Lead cost management and cost-saving initiatives to improve the organization’s financial position.
  • Provide guidance and mentorship to finance team members, promoting professional development.
  • Develop financial strategies aligned with the organization’s goals and growth objectives.
  • Ensure timely and accurate filing of tax returns and compliance with tax regulations.
  • Participate in strategic planning discussions, providing financial insights and recommendations.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to financial controller:

corporate controller
financial control officer
financial investigator
accounting controller
finance officer
finance manager
accounting supervisor
finance controller
financial accountant
financial investigation clerk
financial control manager
financial administrator

Working conditions

Financial controllers typically work in office settings, often as part of the senior management team. The role requires attention to detail, analytical skills, and the ability to work under pressure to meet reporting and regulatory deadlines. Financial controllers collaborate with various departments and external stakeholders to ensure accurate financial reporting and decision-making.

Minimum qualifications

Financial controllers usually hold a bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, or a related field. Many financial controllers also possess advanced degrees, such as a master’s in business administration (MBA) or a certified public accountant (CPA) designation. Relevant work experience in accounting, finance, and management is essential, with a track record of progressively responsible roles. Strong leadership, communication, and analytical skills are crucial for success in this role.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Financial controller is a Skill level 4 occupation.

Financial controller career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to financial controller.

cost analyst
accounting manager
budget analyst
accounting analyst

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of financial controller.

  • Accounting department processes: The different processes, duties, jargon, role in an organisation, and other specificities of the accounting department within an organisation such as bookkeeping, invoices, recording, and taxing.
  • Financial department processes: The different processes, duties, jargon, role in an organisation, and other specificities of the financial department within an organisation. Understanding of financial statements, investments, disclosing policies, etc.
  • Financial statements: The set of financial records disclosing the financial position of a company at the end of a set period or of the accounting year. The financial statements consisting of five parts which are the statement of financial position, the statement of comprehensive income, the statement of changes in equity (SOCE), the statement of cash flows and notes.
  • Tax legislation: Tax legislation applicable to a specific area of specialisation, such as import tax, government tax, etc.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of financial controller.

  • Enforce financial policies: Read, understand, and enforce the abidance of the financial policies of the company in regards with all the fiscal and accounting proceedings of the organisation.
  • Develop financial statistics reports: Create financial and statistical reports based on collected data which are to be presented to managing bodies of an organisation.
  • Create a financial plan: Develop a financial plan according to financial and client regulations, including an investor profile, financial advice, and negotiation and transaction plans.
  • Synthesise financial information: Collect, revise and put together financial information coming from different sources or departments in order to create a document with unified financial accounts or plans.
  • Interpret financial statements: Read, understand, and interpret the key lines and indicators in financial statements. Extract the most important information from financial statements depending on the needs and integrate this information in the development of the department’s plans.
  • Prepare financial statements: Collect, entry, and prepare the set of financial records disclosing the financial position of a company at the end of a certain period or accounting year. The financial statements consisting of five parts which are the statement of financial position, the statement of comprehensive income, the statement of changes in equity (SOCE), the statement of cash flows and notes.
  • Evaluate budgets: Read budget plans, analyse the expenditures and incomes planned during certain period, and provide judgement on their abidance to the general plans of the company or organism.
  • Follow the statutory obligations: Understand, abide by, and apply the statutory obligations of the company in the daily performance of the job.
  • Analyse financial performance of a company: Based on accounts, records, financial statements and external information of the market, analyse the performance of the company in financial matters in order to identify improvement actions that could increase profit.
  • Track key performance indicators: Identify the quantifiable measures that a company or industry uses to gauge or compare performance in terms of meeting their operational and strategic goals, using preset performance indicators.
  • Exert expenditure control: Analyse expenditure accounts against the income and usages of different company units, companies, or organisms at large. Recommend usage of financial resources in efficient manners.
  • Explain accounting records: Provide additional explanation and disclosure to staff, vendors, auditors, and to any other instance about the way accounts were recorded and treated in the financial records.
  • Ensure compliance with accounting conventions: Exercise accounting management and abidance by generally accepted accounting conventions such as recording transactions at the current price, quantifying goods, separating personal accounts of managers from those of the company, making effective the transfer of legal ownership of assets in its realisation time, and ensuring the principle of materiality.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of financial controller. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Financial forecasting: The tool used in performing fiscal financial management to identify revenue trends and estimated financial conditions.
  • Statistics: The study of statistical theory, methods and practices such as collection, organisation, analysis, interpretation and presentation of data. It deals with all aspects of data including the planning of data collection in terms of the design of surveys and experiments in order to forecast and plan work-related activities.
  • Insolvency law: The legal rules regulating the incapacity to pay debts when they fall due.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of financial controller. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Support development of annual budget: Support the development of the annual budget by producing base data as defined by the operations budget process.
  • Advise on tax planning: Advise on appropriate strategies to include taxes in the overall financial plan in order to reduce the tax load. Advise on questions related to tax legislation and provide advise on the possible implications that decisions in financial matters can cause in a tax declaration.. Advise on questions concerning things such as the creation of a company, investments, recruitments, or company successions.
  • Inspect government expenditures: Inspect the financial procedures of a government organisation which deals with budget and resource allocation and spending to ensure that no faults are being made and no suspicious activity occurs in the handling of financial accounts, and that the expenditures are compliant with financial needs and forecasts.
  • Manage budgets: Plan, monitor and report on the budget.
  • Prepare tax returns forms: Totalise all the deductible tax collected during the quarter or fiscal year in order to fill tax return forms and claim it back to the governmental authorities for declaring taxation liability. Keep the documents and records supporting the transaction.
  • Liaise with auditors: Participate in discussions with the auditors conducting inspections of the organisation’s accounts and inform the managers about the results and conclusions.
  • Prepare financial auditing reports: Compile information on audit findings of financial statements and financial management in order to prepare reports, point out improvement possibilities, and confirm governability.
  • Liaise with financiers: Liaise with people willing to finance the project. Negotiate deals and contracts.
  • Manage profitability: Review on a regular basis sales and profit performance.
  • Check accounting records: Revise the accounting records of the quarter and year and ensure that the accounting information reflects with accuracy the financial transactions of the company.
  • Advise on financial matters: Consult, advise, and propose solutions with regards to financial management such as acquiring new assets, incurring in investments, and tax efficiency methods.
  • Liaise with shareholders: Communicate and serve as communication point with shareholders in order to provide an overview on their investments, returns, and long-term plans of the company to increase profitability.
  • Draft accounting procedures: Lay down standard methods and guidelines to regulate bookkeeping and accounting operations, including determining the bookkeeping system used to record financial transactions.
  • Disseminate information on tax legislation: Provide advise on the possible implications for companies or individuals on decisions regarding tax declaration based on tax legislation. Advise on the favourable tax strategies that could be followed depending on the needs of the client.
  • Manage the general ledger: Enter data and revise the adequate maintenance of general ledgers in order to follow up on the financial transactions of the company, and other non routine transactions such as depreciation.
  • Analyse financial risk: Identify and analyse risks that could impact an organisation or individual financially, such as credit and market risks, and propose solutions to cover against those risks.
  • Supervise accounting operations: Coordinate, commission, and monitor operations in accounting departments in order to ensure the accurate record and eventual reporting of the financial operations of the company.

ISCO group and title

2411 – Accountants

  1. Financial controller – ESCO
  2. Financial Controller Job Description – Betterteam
  3. Financial Controller Job Description – Workable
  4. Featured image: Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash
Last updated on August 28, 2023