Financial Controller

Whether based in a factory or at a company’s head office, financial controllers are chiefly responsible for producing key financial indicators and data that help company directors monitor performance and take informed decisions. Their tasks range from producing annual figures to analysing and interpreting them.

The life of a financial controller...

Financial controllers based in factories

The main role of a factory-based financial controller is to oversee all the site’s financial comings and goings, supporting production managers by sharing opinions on all the major financial decisions being made, making sure to remain objective in order to ensure the factory’s overall profitability.

On the other hand, financial controllers working in factories also need to take care of reporting, communicating actual results and key indicators for their division, which usually involves data related to productivity, employees, fixed assets, depreciation and financial flows.

They work closely alongside all the other departments within factories to financially assess the activities of each one. Their ultimate goal is to ensure the profitability of investments in all new projects. The financial results of previous activities and the company’s balance sheet are regularly discussed in order to make sound financial decisions. Work can be more intense during peak periods for companies, such as budget times, preparing annual balance sheets and any crises that may arise.

Financial controllers have to calculate the productivity of their factory and, more specifically, the productivity of individual manufacturing lines. The figures are then communicated to the managers and divisions involved. They use various key performance indicators to create comparison charts, tables and models that can be used on all different production lines across various sites. They carefully analyse the cause and effect of any gaps they may identify between the company’s targets and its actual financial realities.

Financial controllers based in corporate head offices

Financial controllers based in head offices monitor key pieces of data over time on how their company operates (in terms of sales, costs, staff, etc.) in order to understand the company’s trajectory (and any potential subsidiaries) so they can guide the strategic and operational decisions of the management.

Head office based financial controllers may also be asked to introduced rules on setting departmental budgets that will be passed down to operation staff in charge of working out annual budgets. Furthermore, they’re responsible for collecting and collating all the financial data reported by operational staff before summarising and ensuring its overall consistency. As such, they may be asked to write and formalise a company’s entire budget for the year ahead in a single guidance document.

Financial controllers collect the most reliable data possible on their company’s operations (known as reporting), using a variety of different dashboards, before investigating any discrepancies or deviations from defined targets (annual budgets) so they can pass their conclusions and recommendations for any strategic or operational changes onto managers to help improve the company’s economic outlook. Financial controllers may therefore be required to travel to meet with operational staff on the ground to help roll out corrective measures.

From time to time, financial controllers and their teams will have to look at financial investment plans and give their opinions. They work alongside various other stakeholders, particularly procurement teams, to get a more global perspective on upcoming projects and help them assess their significance. Their ultimate goal is to help ensure every single project is profitable for their company.

Required skills

The ability to summarise and analyse information is vital, along with an adaptable, diligent and methodical personality, able to look at problems objectively.

Typical educational background

5 years of higher education, business or management studies, masters in accounting or management

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