A financial controller is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) who is an integral member of the accounting and finance departments in small and large companies. These financial managers oversee all accounting clerks and processes in a company, streamline those processes, ensure proper checks and balances are implemented and employed and act as a bridge between finance and leadership. Often in smaller companies, a Controller may also take on either the accounts payable or accounts receivable function to help round out the accounting team. An accountant would usually have around ten years’ worth of experience before becoming a Controller.

When Should I Hire a Company Controller?
The answer to this question ultimately depends on your current situation. Generally speaking, you would look to hire a controller when your business is ramping up quickly, and you quickly outgrow your current accounting setup. Some common scenarios in which a controller would be employed include:

  1. You’re spending too much of your own time on accounting when you should be leading and innovating.
  2. You’re multiplying and making so many decisions but aren’t sure of the long-term effects of critical business decisions such as exploring new revenue streams.
  3. Your financial data is disorganized, or you cannot determine real-time strategic insight from your company’s financial data.
  4. You’re unsure how to get the best possible tax rates for your business while remaining tax compliant.
  5. Your accounts payable and accounts receivable are becoming so large that they need more dedicated attention.

Financial Controller Responsibilities

The controller position directly manages the accounting team and oversees finance activities such as accounting operations, procedures, checks, and balances. In larger companies, they may be responsible for subsidiaries as well.

Transactional Oversight

  • Monitoring accounts receivable and accounts payable
  • Following up on late transactions
  • Processing or overseeing payroll
  • Supervising bank reconciliations
  • Maintaining the balance sheet, ledgers, and sub-ledgers
  • Overseeing the maintenance of accounting software and transaction capture
  • Implementation and Monitoring of Checks and Balance
  • Compile information for external auditors
  • Oversee and audit tax filing and ensure compliance
  • Financial Reporting
  • Prepare weekly, monthly, and annual financial reports
  • Preparing the annual budget and financial statements
  • Report on financial operating metrics
  • Monitor for budget fluctuations
  • Generating analysis for the CFO or CEO

Does Your Company Require a Controller or a CFO

Before you recoil at the thought of paying a CFO salary, it’s important to note that many smaller snowballing companies do employ part-time CFO salaries to help them with their financial direction.

The primary difference between a Controller and a CFO is that while the Controller oversees the day-to-day operations of accounting, a CFO is generally fewer hands-on with every day and more responsible for the strategic financial direction of a company. CFOs need to have a strategic outlook and an eye to market trends and competitor behavior and work closely with the business owner or CEO to inform business decisions. Duties include managing cash flow and financial planning and financial projections and the ability to audit a company’s finances to identify and act on challenges and opportunities.

So if you’re currently looking for someone to implement or manage GAAP standard accounting processes with the development of regular reporting and cash flow management, a Controller can help.

If you’re going through a significant transition such as a merger or acquisition, require sophisticated financial forecasts and strategy, or need guidance on seeking and managing investment opportunities, a CFO consultant may be a better fit.

When Should I Look to Onboard an Outsourced Controller?

A full-time Controller with a base salary of $100,000, plus an additional 25 percent for taxes and benefits, would cost $125,000 per year, or $10,416 per month. But most small companies might only need a Controller’s services for one day per week, saving 65% – 75% of that monthly salary cost while still benefiting from their expertise.

This is when it can be advantageous to look into a financial services firm such as Greenough Group, mainly if you are an SMB or startup still earning under $10m in revenue. A part-time controller or CFO provides you with the same tactical and strategic benefits either of those roles offer, with a cost that’s manageable. As they help your company grow, you can then scale up their involvement with your business as needed.

Contact us For a Free Strategic Consultation

Our Controller leadership team has extensive knowledge of several industries’ financial considerations and has provided value to early-stage startups and Fortune 500 companies alike. Our consultants can implement all the systems and procedures you need for a stable financial future so you can concentrate on growing your business.

Contact us for a free consultation, and we’ll outline how our services can help your business reach the next plateau of success.