What are financial controllers? – Challenges for an ambitious career in accounting

What are financial controllers?

The role and job description of a financial controller can vary depending upon the size of the company and covers a wide range of responsibilities in a company’s operational accounting processes. In most cases the financial controller reports to the financial director or the chief finance officer (CFO).

Financial controllers provide important financial data for the executive management to coordinate all long term financial planning and business operations. Financial reporting duties include preparing financial statements, balance sheets, cash flow reports, budgets, budget-to-actuals and financial projections. In addition to financial reporting, a controller must be skilled at financial analysis and providing expert financial consultation.


Emerging trends in the role of financial controllers

According to a research report done in 2008 by Ernst & Young, 82 % of financial controllers believe that their job has become more challenging over the years. The report states that companies’ stakeholders, such as shareholders and executive management need information faster and in ever clearer formats. This causes financial controllers pressure to deliver more detailed and high quality financial information more frequently for decision making.

The challenging state of the global economy, budget and resource constraints and ever growing plans for corporate expansion are also bringing challenges for companies’ financial decisions and resource allocation. This requires more analytical and innovative planning in the financial processes and will provide exciting new challenges for future financial controllers.

In contrast to challenges, EY’s research report states that financial controllers are presented with more opportunities than ever before. For example the day-to-day work is increasingly stimulating and varied, compensation and incentive packages are very attractive and the role provides an excellent springboard to becoming the CFO.



Drysdale, Alasdair 2010. The Financial Controller. Management Books 2000 Ltd, Gloucestershire.

Financial Controller. AccountingEdu.org. http://www.accountingedu.org/comptroller.html

Jyrkkiö, Esa & Riistama, Veijo 2006. Laskentatoimi päätöksenteon apuna. WSOY, Helsinki.

The changing role of the financial controller. 2008. Ernst & Young. http://www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssets/Changing_role_of_the_financial_controller/$FILE/EY_Financial_controller_changing_role.pdf.

This entry was posted in Careers in Accounting and Finance, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to What are financial controllers? – Challenges for an ambitious career in accounting

  1. seijamikkonen says:

    These are excellents points about the future job opportunities for accounting and finance students.

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