Roy Duncan

4th March 2013

Financial Controllers – the new black?

Financial Controllers are the back bone of the finance department, especially in SME businesses. This article offers a guide on key financial controller recruitment challenges and considerations, to keep in mind, to ensure you hire the right FC for your business.

According to a recent report by Ernst and Young the role of Financial Controller has become much more challenging in recent years, as Financial Controllers strive to stay on top of regulatory changes, increased responsibility, limited resources, and handling expansion.  In larger business many are taking on more work and responsibilities which were formerly carried out by the FD or CFO, who are often focusing much more on corporate governance and investor relations.  Most Financial Controllers have readily adapted to this challenging regime and indeed see it as an opportunity to progress in their career.

 This is no surprise to Financial Controllers of SME business, who for years, have had a much wider brief than their larger company counterparts.  Owners of and investors in many of SME business have sought to combine the role of FD/CFO and Financial Controller, with possibly the support of a part-time FD or external consultant.  This has increased both the status and value of the FC to the business.

 Given that SME business account for almost 99% of business on the UK, good Financial Controllers are in demand and hiring one that is right for your business may be easier said than done.  Indeed, hiring the wrong one may prove to be an expensive mistake which may seriously damage your business.

 So if you are in the market to recruit a Financial Controller how will you know who is right for your business?  The first thing is to be clear about what you need them to do and what specific skills they should bring to the party.  Here is a check list of the key duties and responsibilities that can be used to help create the job description.

Key Duties and responsibilities:

In an SME business the Financial Controller will typically report to the owner/Managing Director; however in larger company it will be the FD or CFO. They will be responsible for these functions in the business:
  • Supervising and developing the accounts team
  • Setting up and maintaining and developing financial system, controls and procedures
  • Preparing financial models, budgets and projections
  • Production of management and accounts and key performance indicators
  • Preparing  year and accounts and  audit pack/audit liaison
  • Creating, developing and maintaining systems to manage and control working capital
  • Managing the cash both short and long term
  • Managing bank/investor relations

Depending on the business size and other factors:

  • Supporting operational staff
  • Assisting and influencing pricing strategies
  • Investor relations
  • Identifying key/most profitable markets
  • HR and other administrative functions

Skills, personality and experience:

  • Ability to liaise with internal and external stakeholders.
  • Commercial awareness and understanding  of the business model and value creation
  • Prior experience as an FC or deputy
  • Excellent people skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Background that has included hands-on involvement
  • Accountancy and graduate/post graduate qualifications
  • Industry and sector knowledege or transferable skills

The most suitable Financial Controllers will possess prior experience in the majority of these areas or an ability to develop into the role.  All in all they will be responsible all record keeping and reporting and explaining and commenting on company performance both financially and commercially.  They will understand the business and its finances and will act as custodian for the company’s assets and value.  More than likely they will become the right-hand person to the owner/MD.

 Typical salaries

If you are an SME company turning over say £3m and you want to hire a part-qualified or qualified by experience Financial Controller then you will expect to pay at least £50,000 pa or more. This however is becoming increasingly challenging as good FC’s are in demand and likely to be more expensive.  If you are running a larger business and want to hire one with more experience, or indeed you have a preferred applicant who ticks most of your boxes, you may find that you have to pay much more.   We have recently placed high quality Financial Controllers in London and the surrounding area on salaries between £52,500 and £70,000. Whatever your requirements there will be someone out there who can match them.

 How can a Financial Controller add value to your business? 

If you are a business owner or managing director, hiring a good Financial Controller in whom you can rely to take care of all aspects of your company finances will undoubtedly add value to the business freeing your time to attend to the business and perhaps focus on sales and customer value.

Taking on a new FC has already helped one of our clients to grow sales and win new pitches thanks to a greater understating of their production cost base and introduction of a new pricing model. As a result the company has refused work that is unprofitable and jobs that are too small. With the increased financial knowledge and awareness provided by the new FC they are able to negotiate more effectively and have increased their conversion rate by a large factor.

 How we can help

Here at RG Duncan we understand the issues involved and solutions required so we can introduce someone who is well-matched to your and your business’s needs.  Each brief is overseen by a qualified accountant and we already have a selection of interviewed and assessed Financial Controllers in our database.

Roy Duncan FCCA

RG Duncan Accountancy Recruitment, 33 St James’s Square, London SW1Y 4JS

T:  020 7930 4401  E:   W:

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