Controllers (aka financial controllers) are individuals in charge of maximizing returns of financial assets by formulating and establishing financial procedures and policies, and managing and reporting systems. A controller is responsible for overseeing the functions of accounting department and ensuring its smooth operations. They have to manage all the aspects of finance management comprising of financial and regulatory reporting, corporate accounting, and budget and forecast preparations.
Scope of controllers is very significant in small businesses because they are also responsible for cash management and risk management. However, in larger organizations, these added duties are shifted to chief financial officer or treasurer.
Basic roles, duties & responsibilities of Controllers
So, what does a controller do? Here we have listed out the basic roles, duties or responsibilities of controllers:
- Supervise financial decisions by formulating and implementing procedures and policies
- Protect company’s assets by formulating, monitoring and enforcing controls
- Prepare budget and set financial targets and objectives
- Report financial status by gathering and interpreting financial data
- Protect financial projects by keeping vital information and plans confidential
- Complete financial administrative operations by setting up and assigning employees
- Coordinate and direct preparation of financial forecasts and report any variances
- Make sure of quality control over financial transactions
Duties and responsibilities of controllers vary largely depending on size and motive of organization, and requirement of employers.
- Banking institutes
- Insurance companies
- Public banks
- Government bodies
- Public sectors
- Saving cooperatives
- Trust company
Controllers have to work normal office hours and their work is mostly office based. However, they may have to work extra long hours on special occasions such as start of new fiscal year.
Qualification and training
Individual must possess bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, business administration or other equivalent subject. You can also learn about internship placements and apprenticeship programs which will teach you many practical skills and knowledge to prepare for your entry in corporate world. It will also give you experience and an edge over other candidates. However, one should keep in mind that nobody starts his career as a controller fresh out of college; it takes many years of experience, hard work and credibility.
One must also get a MBA or equivalent specialization; garner experience from big organizations, and preferably as a government auditor, to become an assistant controller. Candidates with Certified Public Accountant certification or Certified Management Accounting designations are given priority. It is a likely 12-16 years of journey to reach the position of controller-ship.
Required skills or job specifications
Given the superiority of the position, controllers have to perform various functions ranging from day to day administrative functions to taking big decisions and steps. For such responsibilities, a controller must be prepared with following set of skills:
- Good communication and interpersonal skills
- Knowledge of the banking and finance environment
- Confidentiality and honesty
- Ability to work on own and manage a team
- Excellent leadership skills
- Bargaining skills
- Numeracy and problem solving ability
- Capacity to work under pressure
- Readiness to work long extra hours