When it’s time to hire an FC, you’ll know that you’re no longer running a really small business, but a fast growing business. When you think back to when the company originally started up, you would have made an effort to control your numbers via a spreadsheet or a basic accounting system.
But then the company begins to grow in revenue and reputation, so you hire an outside accountant to do your books and tax returns. The company is now starting to expand in both services and workforce, so you now need someone around in the office more often.
After reviewing your company’s present situation, the time is right to now hire a financial controller.
So what exactly does a competent FC do? The controller will systematically change your business. This new hire is not a bookkeeper and not an accounting manager. In fact, there’s much more than just an accountant. For a business your size, the FC is your main financial go-to person.
Here’s what they’ll do to support your business’ growth strategy:
Take ownership of the financial statements
The financial controller will take full ownership and accountability over the financial recording systems and is responsible for every data entry point. They will know every number going through it and will understand why expenses have increased and why some have fallen.
As the company’s FC, they will be a big part of every big decision or purchase made before being signed off by the business owner. For example, the purchase of new equipment or the hiring of a new staff member. This is because any large investments or purchases can and will affect the FC’s monthly financial statements.
The FC will be the primary point person for your banking, insurance and legal relationships. And under the controller’s ownership, create quarterly & yearly budgets and measure them against results.
Assess and find ways to save and reduce costs
A sales manager’s job is to obviously increase a business’ sales, but an FC looks to improve profitability. An experienced financial controller will know if the company’s sales are satisfactory, but will primarily be looking at the expenses. As an example, the FCs focus will be around how they can shave another 5% off the business insurance costs? How can I improve the margin on this product? Why is the company spending so much on freight? Does this department really need all those people or can some be more productive in another team? Are we incurring too much overtime in this area? This is the role of an FC and they make it their primary goal to find and launch cost saving initiatives, grow profitability and cut down expenses.
Not just an administrator, they’ll manage the data
As the business owner, if you’re going to make an investment in hiring an FC, then you will need to understand that this is not a bookkeeper or accounts payable staff person. You will need to make sure that this person has those people on-board and on the same playing field. The financial controller is not going to replace them but supplement them and bring a new skill set.
A controller’s job is not to do data entry. Their job is to supervise it and make sure it’s done correctly, efficiently and securely. The FC should be a champion for accounting technology and look for new applications, services and tools to help keep the department and others running productively and innovatively, with minimal resources. The controller will create and explain reports, analyse financial data, direct their team and advise the business owner around actions to take to reduce expenses and increase profitability.
Tenacious and professional
A controller should be willing to chase company suppliers and customers to ensure the best terms are obtained and adhered too, in a professional manner of course.
The FC can sometimes come across as being a bit of a pain to the company managers too, in a professional manner once again. This is the most important because as the business owner, you and your team of managers have a thick skin and know that the FC is just looking out for the best interests of the company. To that end, the controller should be the type of person who’s not afraid to talk to you if they don’t agree with how you’re spending the company’s money. You’ll want their opinion and for the FC to be your finance watchdog. You may not always want to listen, but you’ll appreciate the controller’s professional point of view.
There’s no golden rule for hiring a financial controller. But you’ll know that your company’s reached the size where a bookkeeper and a once-a-year tax accountant are no longer providing the service you require. You need a financial partner who’s sitting in an office near you and looking after your company’s money.
If you’re looking to hire an FC for your business, get in touch with EFM today. Our nationwide team of part-time finance professionals are on hand to support your team and help your company thrive. To find out more information, contact the EFM team on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01582 516300.