What Makes a Great Financial Controller?

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Like many positions in the financial industry, the role of financial controller is evolving. 

As regulations change and technology transforms the sector, financial controllers are now responsible for more than just “number crunching.” These professionals are also there to make sure that everything in the economic space continues to run smoothly so that there are no surprises at the end of a quarter.  

So, what kind of skills and characteristics must hiring managers look for in a financial controller? As a specialist in financial recruitment, Rebus is here to help. Here are some of the things we believe all amazing business analysts need.  

1. A Strong Understanding of the Numbers



First, a financial controller needs to understand all the functions and processes of a typical accounting department. Controllers must be able to examine and assess things like “accounts receivable,” “accounts payable,” payroll, and anything else your company deals with each day.  

The right candidate will be able to demonstrate their competence in typical financial procedures. However, they’ll also contribute to “meaningful” financial reporting. This means assisting business leaders in seeing where the company needs to evolve to support long-term profitability.  

During the interview, ask your controller: 

  • How would you make sure we were adhering to our budgetary benchmarks?
  • What steps have you taken to reduce expenses at past companies you’ve worked for?  
  • Explain a time where your work has allowed a business to increase their revenues. 


2. Leadership Skills

Financial controllers often work alongside CFOs to ensure that all the economic aspects of your company are working well. This means that the best candidates can demonstrate strong leadership skills.  

Excellent controllers are comfortable negotiating contracts and policies, and they know what it takes to develop KPI reporting suites for your organisation. Look for someone who can impress your interview teams with their knowledge of establishing and executing internal financial controls, and guide others to work more effectively.  

Remember, your financial controller will be responsible for everything from reporting economic accomplishments within the business, to implementing budgeting and forecasting processes. Strong leadership skills will help your candidate to manage, motivate and inspire the collective financial team. 


3. A Strength for Details and Ability to Explain Them



One of the most critical skills a financial controller has is the ability to see both the big picture and the tiny details in your company’s reports. Controllers need to be able to keep up with a huge amount of information each day, often tracked through complicated spreadsheets and digital systems.  

Competency-based interview questions like “Tell us about how you managed to keep track of the details in your previous position” will help you to determine your candidate’s organisational skills 

As well as understanding details, a great controller will also need to convey that information to other members of your team. This means that excellent communication skills are also necessary. Ask your candidates questions like: “How will you explain financial matters in a way that management and other teams can understand?”


4. The Ability to Work as Part of a Team

Financial controllers are often responsible for mentoring, and leading teams. However, they also need to know how to work effectively as part of a group. Financial controllers often have many responsibilities to deal with, and this means that they may need the help of other people in your staff from time to time.  

To ensure that your financial controller will thrive within your financial team, it’s worth looking for someone who has the character to fit with your company culture. Start by looking at the things that your business values most, such as a passion for innovation or punctuality, then search for evidence of those features with a competency-based interview.  

Questions like “Tell us about a time when you went above and beyond for your team” will evaluate both a person’s ability to work with others and their passion for the industry.  


5. Commitment to Continued Learning



Finally, as the financial industry continues to evolve, and controllers take on more demands in their roles, it’s essential to hire someone who can commit to continued growth. If your candidate is fully-qualified as an ACA/ACCA/CIMA or CPA, they’ll need to maintain their certification with additional educational courses.  

Additionally, some financial controllers may find that it’s useful to take on extra training that will assist them in building people skills, like leadership and management training. A financial controller needs to manage various complex problems and deal with high-pressure situations. This means that analytical abilities will also be critical.  

To evaluate a passion for learning, ask: 

  • What steps have you taken to continue your education in this sector?
  • What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your career, and how have you overcome them?
  • What’s your plan for personal and professional development in the next 12 months? 


About Rebus Financial Recruitment 

Rebus Financial Recruitment provides a specialist and focused recruitment service to its customers, which historically range from a wide variety of organisations including SME’s to large PLCs. 

We strive to offer both the client and candidate a seamless recruitment experience. Using our expertise, we get to the heart of employer and employee needs; and, in doing so, we match the two perfectly. To get in touch call us on 01282 930930. 

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