Accounting

Write a Financial Controller Job Description for Tomorrow’s Finance Leaders

Get started with our free Financial Controller Job Description template and the tips below

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Finance is reinventing itself and job descriptions must evolve with it. More than 50% of industry professionals already see a shift toward finance automation, according to an American Institute of CPAs survey. Beyond technology, smart finance teams are moving to plug the soft skills gap. 

And there’s a huge payoff: Companies that invested in developing soft skills reported stronger financials, according to Accenture Strategy. Your financial controller job description must account for these industry shifts in order to keep pace with transformation and appeal to the finance leaders of the future.

Fill future skills gaps with your financial controller role

The year 2020 reshaped finance: Rather than devoting their energy to routine, manual tasks, finance professionals focused on strategic financial management. The job description for your financial controller must reflect this evolution.

Over the past year, technology adoption accelerated. And the shift to remote work saw finance professionals managing spend for distributed workforces. As a result, more finance teams opted for proactive controls and real-time visibility into financial transactions.

Our 2021 Finance Technology Benchmarking Report shows that most forward-looking finance departments have embraced software solutions to streamline their processes. A report from the American Institute for CPAs shows most finance leaders believe the competencies of their teams must “change significantly” as technology impacts the finance industry.

Beyond a rise in tech use, 72% of finance leaders believe teams will spend all of their time forecasting within the next few years, according to a joint report by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and PwC.

Of course, job-relevant qualifications, like a Certified Financial Analyst (CFA), Certified Public Accountant (CPA), and bachelor’s degrees, still matter for financial controllers, but they’re table stakes. Candidates want to become business partners who can advise on financial decisions.

Jeanna Fisher, a managing director at executive search firm Russel Reynolds Associates, specializing in finance recruitment, told the Financial Times that candidates wanted to play a strategic role beyond basic financial reporting.

“The fun part is being the strategic business partner,” she said. “I’m seeing a trend in people moving from public to private companies because the compliance, accounting part of the role is not the fun part.”

Download our Forward-Thinking Financial Controller Job Template

Nesbitt encouraged finance hiring teams to place value on job seekers who were comfortable learning to use technology platforms to guide spend decisions and financial planning.

“In today’s market, businesses need more people on the finance team who can think strategically and quickly adapt to changing conditions,” said Nesbitt. “That means leveraging technology to keep a pulse on what’s happening across the company in real-time so you can deliver relevant and actionable insights.” 

Being successful in finance is about more than just numbers

For years, soft skills in finance have been underrated, even ignored. According to the Journal of Organizational Psychology, new accounting graduates lacked valuable non-finance skills, including persuasive communication, active listening, and teamwork.

Now, experts say that neglect has created a chronic skills shortage.

Historically, finance roles have been associated with reasoning and results-orientation, according to an Accenture analysis. In the Deloitte article, The finance workforce in a digital world, one chief financial officer (CFO) summed it up like this:

“We have the learning platforms in place, and the leadership culture and mindset are there. But the softer skill sets—the ability to understand other people’s motivations and help them work through change—don’t exist broadly across the finance community.”

Nesbitt said more and more finance teams acknowledged the deficit and placed a stronger emphasis on soft skills, including problem-solving and decision-making: “It’s not about just crunching numbers anymore. Finance professionals are increasingly taking on more integrated roles that require strong skills in communications, relationship-building, and holistic analysis.”

By highlighting these attributes in your financial controller’s job description, you will attract well-rounded candidates and show that your company values more than just a resume.

Identify the right Financial Controller skillset 

So what skills are important for the Controller of the future to possess? The Financial Controller oversees all aspects of a company’s accounting activities, involving both strategy and risk management. But accounting know-how is only meaningful if it is supported by these soft skills.

  • Technological savvy to identify and implement the right software platforms that streamline operations and position your team as a strategic partner within your organization.
  • Strong communications skills to not only provide relevant information, but leverage the data to convey actionable insights to key stakeholders.
  • Empathy to improve the relationship between finance and other departments, ensure compliance, and work with non-finance employees to reach common goals.
  • Strategic vision to look beyond the day-to-day and develop long-term plans for increased agility and performance.

 Only by writing a holistic job description can you future-proof the role. Hiring a Controller with these skills will be invaluable for the growth of your finance team and success of your company.

Of course, your job description will also need to list the technical skills and requirements for the financial controller role. Here are our recommended key responsibilities to include: 

  • Supervise accounting operations, including general ledger functions, accounts payable, and accounts receivable.
  • Establish robust internal control processes and financial reporting systems based on generally accepted accounting principles and regulatory requirements.
  • Support the CFO to develop budgets, forecasts, and other financial analysis for senior management, shareholders, and auditors.
  • Build out, manage, and develop the accounting team.
  • Lead the implementation of systems to streamline and automate accounting systems.
  • Collaborate with IT to integrate the new ERP with accounting systems and existing business applications.
  • Stay updated with future legislation about tax and operations to ensure compliance
  • Track and manage cash flow and working capital.
  • Engage and collaborate with non-finance staff to build relationships across business departments
  • Improve the process of collecting, analyzing, and consolidating financial data.
  • Build and manage the relationship with external auditors to ensure compliance with auditing requirements and standards.

Download the financial controller job description template

This financial controller job description template will get you started. In it, you’ll find a role summary, list of key responsibilities, qualifications, and education requirements common to the Controller role. Using the template, plus all of the tips above, you should be ready to hire the financial controller of the future.

[DOWNLOAD FREE TEMPLATE]