What Makes a Great Group Financial Controller?

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Group financial controllers are senior-level employees, with ultimate operational responsibility for all day to day activities and production of financial results.

These high-level financial employees are responsible for the critical delivery of various financial entities within an organisation, including guiding the activities of accountants and financial professionals in their team.

As leaders in your organisation, group financial controllers pave the way for future growth by ensuring that budgets remain steady, through identifying key results, trends and financial forecasts.

So, how do you choose the right candidate for your financial controller role?

As specialists in financial recruitment, we have identified and delivered many successful financial controllers to our clients and understand, in depth, the characteristics, skills and results that make up a great financial controller in today’s market.

Here are some of the key characteristics we look for in the best group financial controllers.


1. Commercial Knowledge



Group financial controllers need an in-depth knowledge of how businesses operate overall, from the relationships held with shareholders, to the investment decisions business leaders make. Financial controllers also evaluate the big picture when contributing to decisions about things like production budgets and material costs.

Because of their understanding of the strategic direction that your business is taking they contribute through their teams to deliver effective financial decisions, and record and track the right metrics.

Financial controllers by using their insights into a business, industry and internal goals are therefore pivotal in steering organisations in the right direction.


2. Financial Background

The ideal group financial controller will naturally have a strong background in finance, but it’s also helpful for these individuals to have a knowledge of the specific vertical they’re working in too. For instance, a group financial controller in the manufacturing sector will be familiar with both the finance environment and the manufacturing space.

Because group financial controllers are avid learners, they’re able to absorb new information quickly. Often, these professionals thrive when introduced to new technology, accounting software and other tools used in the financial sector. During the induction process, business leaders can conduct development plan interviews with their controllers, to discover what kind of additional training they may need to build on their existing financial, technology and leadership skills.

However, during the initial interview process, it’s helpful to check that your candidates have extensive experience with:

  • Month-end accounts and balance sheets
  • Budgeting and forecasting
  • Investigating discrepancies in finances
  • Producing statutory reports and managing audit relationships
  • Preparing VAT returns and sales lists
  • Managing daily banking activities


3. Comfortable with Technology



In today’s market, group financial controllers must be agile, and conversant with the latest technological innovations in the marketplace. Technology can play a part in various aspects of the financial controller role, from collaboration tools used to communicate with team members, to accounting and record-keeping software.

The financial controllers are more than willing to go above and beyond to learn new technology skills where necessary, test out potential improvements to your existing system, and suggest their own IT upgrades.

Look for someone familiar with everything from Excel, to ERP systems like SAP and Oracle, as well as candidates who are happy to learn new skills as they go.


4. Great Team Leadership Skills

Group financial controllers are often responsible for leading entire accounting teams. This means that to succeed they need to be a good leader.

The best candidates will be the ones who know how to motivate direct and lead a financial team to success.

Rather than just reviewing CVs to look for a person’s ability to thrive in a team, ask them to explain the last time they helped guide a group towards success in a difficult situation. Alternatively, you can even consider group interview sessions that allow your candidates to demonstrate their teamwork and collaboration talents first-hand.


5. Excellent Communication Skills



Group financial controllers need to be able to collect and assess information quickly and accurately. However, once they’ve gathered that data, they also need to be able to translate what they learn into actionable insights for their team. This means that leadership-level accountants require excellent communication skills.

In a recent post on Thrive Global Warren Buffett shared the one skill that will lead you to success faster is your ability to communicate well.

Look for candidates that impress when it comes to delivering reports or presenting information to senior management. For instance, an assessment centre presentation may be an excellent way to assess a person’s skills in this area. Group financial controllers must be able to summarise critical data in a clear way and answer any questions that their teams might have to drive performance.

Even without an assessment centre, a competency-based interview question like: “Tell us about the outcomes of the last financial change you implemented at your previous job” is a great way to determine someone’s communication skills.


What Next?

Would you like support to identify your next financial controller? Then get in touch by calling our office on 01282 930930 or email us here.


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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